Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Cascadia Brand Compass: The Key to Finding Your Organization's True North

Great brand stories start with great research. At Cascadia Marketing, we begin the process with a thorough examination of your brand’s DNA, the building block that determines how your customers perceive you and how well your brand meshes with their needs.

Our proprietary Brand Compass process ‘maps’ your brand by as many as a dozen unique and critically important compass ‘points’. It begins with storytelling-based research that yields a treasure trove of insights, emotions and feelings about your brand. We then identify and articulate the first point of the compass: the ‘core themes’. These are the broad ideas, characteristics, or messages that serve to define the timeless and universal essence and truth of a company’s brand; the themes are often deeply emotional, mythic and archetypal in nature.

With most clients we identify between 3-6 core themes; the richer and more emotionally engaging the brand, the more themes that we are able to identify.  Each core theme is supported by actual quotes and stories that we gather during the research process. The core themes which our process revealed for a recent client included the following themes: "Transformation"; "Breaking Down Barriers"; "Timeless Truths" and "Membership".

We then express the ‘meta-theme’ of your brand:  a one-line summation (or ‘umbrella’) of what the core themes are all about; your brand is really a story of ______. The meta-theme provides a collective perspective and ideally offers a ‘timeless truth’ about your brand. In the case of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, the meta-theme we identified as "I belong here...and I'm better for it", which then led to creation of new tagline: "Stay True to You".

By articulating each point on the brand compass, a company effectively finds its unique true north. Before every key business decision is made, the organization can then ask itself, “is what we’re about to do in alignment with our brand story?"