Monday, April 13, 2020

Virtual Brand Positioning Workshop

You may know that BrandForward has conducted more than 150 successful brand positioning workshops for some of the top brands in the world. These workshops were designed to achieve leadership team consensus around emotionally compelling unique value propositions for those brands. Today, in the COVID-19 environment, it is more important than ever to craft a brand that is unique and that has strong emotional appeal. That is why we have modified our process to conduct virtual brand positioning workshops.

We can begin with the same brand audits, customer research and brand equity measurement. We will also inform the workshop by stakeholder input gathered by a simple pre-workshop survey. The only difference is that the workshop itself will be conducted virtually via online conferencing technology.

In the workshop, we will define the primary, secondary and tertiary target markets with great precision. After that, we will define the brand's essence and craft its promise. We will also identify the brand's archetype and its personality. This will lead to a brand positioning statement that includes the brand's unique value proposition. And the workshop participants will have a chance to review research findings, argue assumptions, debate approaches and tweak the exact wording.

All of this will lead to a brand position that is unique and highly compelling to its target customers.

The best part is that this can be accomplished not in months but in days or a few weeks at most.

"Thanks again for the excellent session you facilitated on Tuesday. I continue to get positive feedback from all who were present. I met with our president today, and he reiterated what a great job he thought you did and how the day exceeded his expectations. Your clear commitment to the Conservancy's mission was very much appreciated by the group, and your experience in brand building and skill in facilitating made a long day in a windowless meeting room actually fun!"

Angie Sosdian

Director, Marketing Strategy Project
The Nature Conservancy

"Brad’s book, Brand Aid, inspired me to change the way our division approached brand strategy. Brad’s unique talent for storytelling draws readers, as well as work-shop participants, deeply into the ideation process with fantastic results. I was very fortunate to have Brad facilitate a series of global workshops to further refine our brand strategy. He helped us define and align on a differentiated approach that quickly vaulted our global brand to the top of the market."

Michael Saso
Group Manager, U.S. Coronary Product Marketing
Abbott Vascular

"Brad is a master facilitator. He facilitated three different brand strategy workshops for us. He was able to achieve agreement between co-CEOs from different cultures with divergent points of view. I would highly recommend him to help you achieve consensus on your business and brand strategy."

André Bernheim

"Brad expertly led our organization in its rebranding efforts. This started with brand equity research and proceeded through an adroitly facilitated brand positioning workshop and then cogent presentations to key stakeholder groups. His group facilitation skills are exemplary. Our museum is deeply grateful to Brad for his outstanding work in helping us clarify our brand identity and how we will succeed in the marketplace, both locally and more broadly.”

Bruce Barnes, Ph.D.
Ron and Donna Fielding Director
George Eastman Museum

For more information, contact Brad VanAuken at

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Brand Building During COVID-19

What can brands do when people are stuck in their houses and not able to eat out, shop at local shopping centers, go to concerts or do anything else that is not connected to "sheltering in place" and home delivery? And what can brands do when people are laid off, have lost some or all of their income and are watching their retirement nest eggs diminish rapidly as the stock market crashes?

Some industries are more likely to thrive in this environment. Consider Zoom, Purell, Clorox and But most will struggle, especially as people try to cut back on nonessential household expenses.

Here is what brands can do. Innovate. Restaurants are offering take-out services, sometimes with items that were never featured on their menus. Universities, of necessity, are delivering their courses online. Medical doctors are delivering some of their services via telemedicine. Orchestras are delivering online concerts. Public art galleries are posting virtual galleries online. A friend of mine who loves to cook has started a soup brand and delivery service.

Arts organizations and other not-for-profit organizations are doing what I would recommend that all brands do - offering free content, advice and interactive online experiences to maintain ongoing relationships and to create goodwill with their members and patrons. As a member of Writers & Books board, I have been asked to read and record some of my favorite poems and passages from literature to be delivered to our members for their edification and pleasure. Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has created, a website for sharing at-home family activities. The website is open to all families whether they are involved in BSA or not.

Some organizations' free YouTube videos have gone viral. Have you seen or listened to any of these in your Facebook feed? South African Roedean School's rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah?" Berklee College of Music Students' rendition of "Love Sweet Love?" Or virtual tours of these art galleries - National Gallery in London, Guggenheim Museum in New York, National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, Musée d' Orsay in Paris or the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam?

Now is the time to edify, entertain and engage your customers and potential customers online in the comfort of their homes. They are bored. They are anxious. They are scared. They are feeling claustrophobic. They have cabin fever. Help them out. Stay in frequent contact. Keep your brand top of mind.  Build a greater emotional connection with your customers. Show them what you can do. Show them the best that you offer. Be real. Be empathetic. Give them a reason to feel tremendous gratitude toward your brand.

Now is not the time to go dark. Now is the time to engage with social media, email, webinars, YouTube videos and the like.