Four brand conversations to have now

| By: Angie Winschel
Angie Winschel

As marketers and communicators, we’re used to being the “keepers of the brand”. We know the heart of our brand and its challenges, inside and out, upside and down. We alone know every typeface, every key message, every PMS color. And when it’s time to revise, refresh or completely scrap our look in favor of something new, the temptation is to think that we alone own that job. But hang on, remember that wise old saying about not seeing the forest for the trees? Maybe sometimes we can’t see the brand for the standards.

The BEST thing you can do for your brand right now, whether it’s newly minted, tried and true or due for an overhaul, is to have these four conversations. You’ll come away with insights and energy and a new sense of direction, I promise.

Your goal is simple: to understand your brand from the very different points of view of your leadership, advisors or boards of directors, frontline staff and target audiences. Below, we’ve shared some questions you can use to get the conversation started.


  • With whom are you communicating on a daily basis?
  • How do you explain to those folks what we do here? How easy is it to explain?
  • Do they understand it? What follow up questions do you usually get?
  • What are we good at?
  • What do you want us to be known for?
  • What’s the biggest challenge to our success right now?
  • Where are we going in the next six months? In the next year?

Advisors/Boards of Directors

  • Why did you choose to become involved with us? (non-profit focus)
  • What had you heard about us before? What did you think we did? Was your perception accurate?
  • How has your perception changed since you became more involved?
  • How would you describe us in three words?

Frontline Staff

  • With whom are you communicating on a daily basis?
  • What are you hearing about us? Do people understand what we do? Do they understand why we do what we do?
  • How do you explain who we are and what we do to people who aren’t familiar with us?
  • What are you most proud of about us?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?

Target audience

  • How did you first hear about us?
  • Why did you choose us? Or not choose us?
  • What makes us different?
  • How do you describe us to other people?
  • What do you think we’re known for?

A few other tips to get the most out of these conversations:

  • Take notes, look for trends
  • Listen actively. If you don’t understand a comment or opinion, ask for more information. Don’t assume, and don’t be so focused on your answers that you forget the questions.
  • Depending on your size, length of time in business, and industry, some of these questions will apply to more than one group.
  • Drop the lingo. Notice we aren’t asking anyone about a “brand promise”, “positioning”, “copy” or “color palette”.

The important thing to remember is, our brands don’t live in the marketing and communication department, and they sure don’t live in our brand standards. Our brands live in the hearts and minds of other people. Today, take some time to get to know your brand right where it lives.