A couple years ago, I helped a wrestling academy (C2X) that was going through an identity crisis.
C2X started as a wrestling academy and, over time, added fitness and yoga classes. The issue was that most people still only knew them as a wrestling academy, which made it difficult for them to grow.
They needed my help to build a brand platform that was wide, and deep enough, to support all of what they had become over the years.
Here’s the process I used to help them build their brand platform.
CRAFTING THE STORY
I often use the story metaphor to explain to clients what a brand is.
A brand is a story— a bundle of ideas, beliefs and values stitched together in a coherent way.
And like every great story, a great brand has a through line— a connecting theme.
To build a brand, you need to start with the through line— What’s your story about? What’s the big idea you are trying to communicate and bring to life?
The through line for C2X was Commitment to Excellence.
I expanded on that idea by crafting a brand narrative— a short summary of the story they were trying to tell.
Next, we mapped out the hero’s journey.
When building a brand, you are not the hero of the story. The hero is your ideal customer. You are the protagonist. Who is the hero? What does she want at the end of her journey? What’s standing in her way? How are you, the protagonist, going to help the her on her journey?
To capture C2X hero’s journey, I created the position statement below.
Once we completed this first part, I knew we were in great shape. Now it was time for them to bring their story to life.
TELLING THE STORY
Creating a brand, like writing a book or giving a speech, is a process of co-creation between you and your audience.
When we finish a movie, the director can only hope that we understood what the movie was supposed to be about. He doesn’t own our interpretation of his work. His job is to bring his idea to life, the best way he can.
Similarly, you don’t own the perception of your brand. And you have to remember that, to form that perception, customers have no direct access to the intent behind your brand.
To bring the brand to life, start with defining a brand personality— a ‘script’ that informs how the brand shows up, behaves and communicates.
I chose the Warrior archetype for C2X’s brand personality.
Then, you have to create a visual identity system (logo, colors, fonts...etc) that matches the brand personality.
C2X created this rugged logo and look, and chose red as their primary color.
Next, you need a tagline-- an outward expression of your brand story. If your company’s name is the book or movie title, the tagline is the subtitle. C2X’s came up with Live Limitless as their tagline.
You rarely have people’s attention long enough to tell them all about your brand. So you need, through visual elements and messaging, to capture and quickly communicate what your brand is about.
Bringing the brand to life should happen at every touchpoint (website, social media channels, stores). Treat every touchpoint as a book cover. Brand videos can also be as powerful as movie trailers.
Finally, it’s people’s experiences that truly bring a brand to life. You should fulfill your brand promise—the promise you made, as the protagonist, to help the hero on her quest—through every experience you deliver to customers.
Ultimately, you have to remember that the value of your brand depends on how it is perceived in the market. The same is true for movies, books or speeches. Though we don’t own that perception, we can shape and influence it if we are clear about the story we are trying to tell and intentional in bringing that story to life.