Why Nakedly Asking Humbling Questions Is the Only Path to Finding Branding Answers
So it is with branding and marketing. Not knowing what you don’t know is among the main reasons for failure, yet many companies, when embarking on a branding or rebranding journey, fail to ask (and answer) critical questions.
Most often, we fail to ask difficult questions because we are either afraid to hear difficult answers, or we are afraid of the work that might present itself as a result of our findings. Truth be told, it’s all about Getting Naked, as Patrick Lencioni might say.
But you can’t find an answer to a question you haven’t asked.
To wit, most companies going through a branding exercise or looking to solve a marketing challenge ask some very fundamental questions:
- Who are we?
- Why should people buy our product or service?
That’s fine as far as it goes, but that’s not even the beginning of the beginning. Those are the easy questions (both to ask and to answer), because all you are essentially presented with is an opportunity to talk about how great you are. There is no risk. However, with little risk comes little reward.
Stopping there leaves a panoply of critical questions unanswered:
- Why are we who we are?
- Who are our audiences (geographically, demographically, psychographically)?
- Why are they who they are?
- Why do they love us?
- What don’t they love about us?
- Why don’t our ex-customers love us anymore?
- What do our audiences want, love and need—not from us, necessarily, but where they live, work and play?
- How can we provide that for them, in our corner of the universe and by doing what we do well?
- What don’t we do well, and why?
- Who are our competitors?
- Why are they who they are, and how do they say it?
- How are we different from them? Are we different from them? Can we be, really?
- Why do some customers love them and not us?
- What are we best in the world at? Not the entire world, just in our world.
Even that is just the beginning of a true branding discovery. But you can begin to see the difference between asking difficult questions and answering easy ones…and what intelligence can be gleaned from the former versus the latter.
Why, Not What
To further explore why this sort of thinking is important, I encourage you to invest the full 18 minutes to watch and consider this video. During a TedX Talk, author Simon Sinek employs three notable illustrations—Apple, MLK and the Wright brothers—to demonstrate the motivations behind purchasing decisions. He advocates for “starting with why,” which is another way of saying, “Don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions.” Though it’s longer than most of us devote to watching Web video, and though Sinek’s “style” can border on off-putting, you will thank yourself for watching it. And you just might think of him the next time you embark on a branding or marketing expedition.