The Best 3 Branding Exercises For Startups

Here are a few fun, engaging and insightful exercises you and your team can do today to help define your brand. Don’t be shy — let your creative...

Photo: Suneera Madhani, CEO and Founder of Fattmerchant; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Suneera Madhani, CEO and Founder of Fattmerchant; Source: Courtesy Photo

In the past century, brands have been largely defined by their trademarks: logos, mascots and color schemes. The market was consumed by huge, monolithic companies whose logos were synonymous with their products and services.

Over the past few decades, brands have begun to share their voice. Companies have started to focus on the brand instead of just the trademark, which meant more time and effort could be put into messaging, content and visuals.

Now, we’re in an age where everything your company does is considered its brand: Brand is community, real-time engagement, content, story, charity, inspiration and so much more. Founders, employees, pets, offices — everything can and will be considered your brand by your audience.

So it makes sense to put some effort into it, right? A lot of business owners believe the culture side of branding will take care of itself as long as you hire the right people and rent the right office space. But this is not necessarily the case: A good, holistic brand takes work and commitment from your entire team. The only place to start, then, is to get everyone on the same page on how you want your company to be perceived.

Here are a few fun, engaging and insightful exercises you and your team can do today to help define your brand. Don’t be shy — let your creative juices flow!


1. Play ‘This, Not That’

You might already have an idea of what you want your business to be, which is great! For this exercise, we’re going to take that a step further: Instead of just making a list of words that you want to define your company, make a list of word pairs to help define what your company isn’t.


Create a fail forward company culture
Photo: © GaudiLab, YFS Magazine

For example, you might want to be fun, but not childish. You could be smart but not complicated, simple but not boring, or transparent but not chatty. Once you create your list, make sure to get it in the hands of your team — especially those in charge of your content and messaging. The more your voice is dictated by these brand personality decisions, the more clear and cohesive your brand will be.


2. Take the Personality Challenge

This is my personal favorite, as it allows your team to get a little abstract and creative. Think of your company, and then try to make it into a person. Think of as many traits as possible — male or female? Tech-focused or artistic? What celebrity would play it in a movie?

Once you have a little profile going, start to think about your company’s relationship with your consumer. Are you a friend, partner, advisor or something else entirely? Think of State Farm’s famous slogan, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” Your brand is more than just a product or service: You’re a special and important part of your consumer’s life, so make sure you’re defining that and creating content to support it.


3. What’s Your Story?

Lastly, take some time to define your story. Consumers are more apt to connect with a brand with an engaging story, not just a good offer. Break it down to all of the traditional components of storytelling: the main character, villain, desire and conflict.


Photo: © GaudiLab, YFS Magazine

The answers to these questions might not be what you’d expect. Is your villain your competition, the problem your company is trying to solve, or something more abstract? For a gym, the villain might be laziness, and your company is trying to overcome the conflict of lacking motivation by bringing your main character, the gym member, to their desire — a more exciting workout!


Whether you run through these brand exercises with your team or come up with a few of your own, put some time aside on your busy schedule as a business owner to really think about and define your brand. Once this information is shared with the rest of your team, you’ll start seeing a more cohesive, engaging brand story take hold in no time.


Suneera Madhani is the CEO and Founder of Fattmerchant, bringing simple yet powerful payment technology to all business types.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article