How to discover a brand's USP
Whether you're working on a client's branding or trying to carve out space in a crowded market for your own brand, finding the thing that makes a brand special is vital to creating standout branding that will be remembered.
After all, fancy gimmicks, bright colours or even the best logo ever won't be enough to save a brand that has no brand purpose, or seems to be communicating mixed messages.
01. Find your why
"People buy why you do, not what you do," said Alvi. "So ask 'why' five times. Write your answer down and see if you're really solving the problem and then write it down, and then write it out again."
Alvi shared the video below by Simon Sinek, which explains the concept of the 'golden circle'. This essentially says that your 'why' is the most important part of your branding, not what you do, or how you do it, which are secondary to the 'why'.
"It takes time to figure out your 'why'," said Alvi. "So keep working on it until you find something that makes sense."
02. Discover what you're fighting for
"If you really want to build a brand that everyone loves you've got to love it more than everyone else," said Alvi. "If you really love what you're doing, people can tell."
To make sure you're really clear about your brand – and can therefore truly love it, not just the idea of it – ask yourself what it is that you're fighting for. Most brands are fighting for something, be that better shoes, safer internet browsing or ergonomic office furniture.
Alvi also pointed out that your vision, or what you're fighting for, needs to be something real and tangible, and which people can easily imagine. "If you're working towards eradicating poverty, it's not easy for people to imagine it," he said. "Try and make your vision something that people can relate to and understand."
03. Write down your founding principles
Once you've figured out your 'why', you need to start communicating it. "A good brand strategy is the combination of strong positioning, strong creative and strong consistency," said Alvi. "Strong design will get you most of the way there, but it won't get you everywhere."
04. Use the power of stories
"People forget facts, but they remember stories," said Alvi, adding that the best brands have a central brand story that they refer to again and again.
In order to make sure you really know your story well, you should practice telling it. Alvi shared the story of David Hieatt – of Hiut denim. The way Hieatt got comfortable with his brand's story was that he went down to his shed and recorded himself telling the story. He then shared the video with his daughters, who laughed at him. Through repeating this process, he got really comfortable sharing his story. It took two to three years.
"Practise your story out loud," said Alvi. "Fight for it, live it." After all, if you're not confident in your brand and its story, how are you ever going to convince anyone else of its value?
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