Lean Strategy Field Guide: Brand
Do your customers (and your team) know exactly what you stand for?
Brand Definitions & Examples
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Brand Strategy integrates the previous four Lean Strategy steps — Purpose, Customers, Competition, and Offering — into a cohesive starting point for your brand. Understanding how those four components fit together will give you the information you need to position your offering effectively in the minds of your target customers. The key brand strategy tools we’ll use to crystallize this information are the Mission Statement and Positioning Statement.
Brand Identity focuses on the tangible, usually visual, aspects of your brand. Your brand identity is what helps people literally identify and recognize your brand. Brand Identity includes your Brand Name, and Visual Identity (Colors, Typography, Symbol or Mark).
In the Competition and Offering steps we talked about differentiating your business from the competition on the basis of your activities: which Customer Jobs you fulfill, what specific kind of value you offer, and how you go about delivering it.
It’s also important to differentiate from the competition on appearance. Even if your Offering does fulfill an important Customer Job in a unique way, it’ll be hard to get noticed if your branding and packaging looks like everybody else’s.
Your branding must be able to help your Target Customer quickly and easily identify your Offering in a sea of possible alternatives.
Brand Attributes focus on the intangible aspects of your brand. If our brand were a person, how would we describe them? How do they see the world? How do they communicate? Brand Attributes include: Tone, and Brand Character.
Brand Architecture captures how your products and services fit together to form a cohesive whole. If your company coexists alongside others, such as part of a larger corporate parent, Brand Architecture can also show how your company fits into that picture.
Your Mission Statement describes exactly what you are doing to working toward your Purpose, along with who benefits from your work.
- Action-Focused: Describes the actions you take in order to fulfill your purpose.
- Unique to You: Your mission should be specific enough to be recognizably yours.
- Simple & Clear: Your mission is easily understood by anyone.
- Purpose: Essence of your Core Purpose expressed through action
- Audience Category: Big picture group you’re trying to help
- Geographic Location: Your Audience location (If your business is area-specific)
- Offering: Methods through which you’re satisfying an Audience job/need
- Benefits: Results of satisfying that Audience job/need in support of their priorities
Your Positioning Statement describes how we wish to be perceived by our Target Customer.
- Unique & Ownable: Your positioning should place you in a unique location in the market.
- Honest & Credible: Your positioning is something you can actually achieve and deliver.
- Practical Tool: Helps us decide what to do, what not to do, and how to prioritize projects and tasks.
- Internal Use Only: Positioning is an internal, strategic statement. Customers won’t see it, so it should not be confused for external messaging.
- Target Customers: The specific Customers you’re seeking to serve
- Unmet Job: The job/need that needs satisfying
- Competitive Set: Group of companies with similar strategic approaches as you
- Points of Difference: Ways that we are better than our competition. These usually come in three varieties:
- Unique: Nobody else can offer what we offer.
- Higher Value: What we offer is better in some significant way than competitors relative to Customer priorities.
- Lower Cost: We’re able to provide a comparable Offering to competitors at a lower cost.
- Reasons to Believe: Proof points that substantiate our points of difference. They preemptively address our target’s core concerns and demonstrate that we will actually do what we say we will do. Reasons to believe usually come in the following varieties:
- Guarantee: Reducing the risk perceived by potential customers by offering a guarantee or refund if expectations are not met. A good guarantee transfers the risk from the customer to the company.
- Personal Experience: Testimonials or Stories from personally known, trusted sources; individual interactions between your customers and your team; trials or demos that your customers experience for themselves.
- Unique Advantages: You own or have access to special equipment, knowledge, people, patents, trademarks or other unique items that cannot be had anywhere else.
- Pedigree: You have a history or track record of success, or relevant credentials and awards.
Choosing Brand Colors
Just as with other aspects of your company’s Brand Identity, it’s important to look beyond personal preferences when choosing your brand colors.
Remember, your Brand Identity is a communication tool, and it’s job is to quickly and efficiently help you Target Customer see that you provide a solution to the Job to Be Done, and that how you provide that solution is in alignment with the Elements of Value that they care about.
In our “lock and key” analogy, your Brand Identity acts as a big, highly visible arrow that tells your Target Customer “this key will work for you!”
Depending on your competitive situation, you may identify a wide-open space that aligns with a color that makes sense for your Target Customer, Value Proposition, Positioning, Archetype and so on. If so, grab it and don’t let go!
While there is no strict 1:1 link between Colors and Archetypes, certain overlaps absolutely exist when it comes to the psychological factors associated with each one. Revisit the Color Psychology and Brand Archetypes sections for help narrowing down your choices.
Symbol / Logo
Your logo is a marker, a flag, a signpost that reminds customers of everything you stand for. But that doesn’t mean your logo needs to be descriptive or directly illustrate your products or services. (To continue with the flag analogy, a country’s flag consists of colors and shapes that represent something about that country, not a little drawing of the country itself).
Instead of describing, an effective logo simply and clearly identifies your products and services so that when your customers see it, they instantly connect your logo to you. It’s another mental shortcut that we’re intentionally creating to make life easier for our customers.
One last key question to consider of course is whether you even need a logo. Many companies operate with simply a name (and possibly an initial as a pseudo “logo”). Only create a separate logo if it serves a specific and meaningful purpose as part of your Brand communication.
Brand / Archetype Alignment
Your brand may align very strongly with a single archetype, or it may be better understood as a blend of two or three. In the case of multiple archetypes, it’s best to think of one as the “dominant” archetype and any additional archetype(s) as “supporting”.
For example, if your company isn’t about comedy or entertainment per-se, but you want humor to be part of your brand voice, you might consider the Jester archetype as a supporting second archetype that only accounts for 10% of the overall mix.
While it’s tempting to want to associate with the appealing qualities of many archetypes, doing so actually undermines your brand by making it less clear. Remember that the purpose of aligning with an archetype is to provide a psychological shortcut — and a shortcut with multiple branches isn’t very effective.
In Lean Strategy, making clear decisions and embracing trade-offs are the paths to success.
Archetypes convey deeper meaning beyond just the individual words used to describe them. They access something deeper and richer in our psychology.
The modern concept of Archetypes was formalized by psychologist Carl Jung in the early 1900s, although some scholars trace the roots of the concept all the way back to Plato. More recently, the “Hero” archetype and the “Hero’s Journey” as a story archetype were explored in depth by Joseph Campbell (The Hero with a Thousand Faces), and then further extended to business and branding by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson (The Hero and the Outlaw) and Margaret Hartwell and Jason Chen (Archetypes in Branding).
Archetypes are especially powerful for branding because they connect deeply with fundamental aspects of human psychology. Chances are that you can easily recognize and understand many archetypes in characters from your favorite books, TV shows, movies, and even in your own life.
This intuitive understanding is exactly the power that we’re looking to tap into.
Stewardship, Altruism, Respect, Fairness, Accountability. Tendency to be a good listener and hard worker.
Great strength of character. Faithfulness. Supportiveness. Usefulness. Functionality. Resourcefulness.
Unevolved behavior. Ignorance. Preoccupation with the basic routines of life. Group think.
Driven by a need to feel a sense of belonging, The Everyman believes that everyone matters equally, regardless of status, age, ethnicity or creed. Like a good neighbor, the Everyman seeks to do the right thing, with no need for heroics or adventure. Possessing a charming sincerity, the Everyman embodies the acronym WYSIWYG — “what you see is what you get” — and has a casual approach to life, preferring to be understated, nonthreatening and helpful to all.
Altruism. Compassion. Patience. Empathy.
Fear of instability. Over-compromise leading to loss of balance. Inability to say no.
The one-word description for The Caregiver is altruism: the unselfish concern and/or devotion to nurture and care for others. This archetype is motivated to provide reassurance, service, advice, listening and an open heart to support the welfare of others. The Caregiver is compassionate, generous, efficient, self-sacrificing, patient, highly competent and an excellent multitasker. Able to find the silver lining in any cloud, the Caregiver remains calm in a crisis, makes friends with everyone, and radiates the lightness of optimism.
Power. Confidence. Dominion. High Status. Leadership.
Fear of loss of control and chaos. Entitled arrogance. Authoritarianism. Righteousness.
The Ruler represents power and control, and is motivated to lead. The Ruler’s position is earned or created rather than inherited or taken by conquest. The ruler has no need to benevolently protect. Instead, the Ruler must demonstrate expertise, a proven track record and competence before taking control. This archetype is a realist and finds meaning in creating structures, organizations and environments that are harmonious, fruitful and constructive.
Creativity. Imagination. Nonlinear thought. Nonconformity. Developed aesthetic.
Overdramatization. Depression accompanying a failure to make meaning. Perfectionism. Fear of mediocrity and judgment.
The Creator has a passionate need for self-expression, to be a cultural pioneer. Creating offers a means of dealing with how out of control the world seems. The Creator is highly imaginative, with a developed sense of aesthetic. This archetype often appears in environments that are reflective of good taste and a unique point of view. The Creator notices and acts upon the need for innovation, invention and reinterpretation. Believing in the value of inner expression, the Creator is dedicated, hardworking and achievement oriented.
Ability to dream enormous dreams. Mysterious powers of perception. Awe-inspiring intuition and cleverness. Charisma. Highly evolved perspective.
Manipulation. Trickery. Hubris.
Known to be dynamic, influential, charismatic and clever, this archetype is able to view the world through many different lenses. Driven to understand the fundamental laws of the universe in order to make dreams into reality, The Magician connection to experiences of synchronicity, flow and oneness, with a curiosity about the hidden workings of the universe. Using ritual and forces from above and beyond, the Magician manifests ideas into reality. Able to accomplish magic from the inside out, the Magician gets results outside of the ordinary rules of life.
Self-sacrifice. Courage. Redemption. Transformation. Faith. Strength. Stamina.
Delusions of grandeur. Arrogance. Temptation of power.
The Hero acts to redeem society by overcoming great odds in service to successfully completing extraordinary acts of strength, courage and goodness. The Hero is admired by those who appreciate the self-sacrifice, stamina and courage required to triumph over adversity and evil. As a continuous learner, the Hero seeks to understand the inner life force and fullest expression of self, while coping with difficulty, meeting strange fates and facing shifting challenges. The essence of the Hero lies in the sacrifice required to achieve the goal of transformation.
Wicked humor. Originality. Irreverence. Present moment awareness. Facile social skills.
Danger of being misunderstood, shunned or considered a threat. Temptation to play cruel tricks. Prone to waste time. Insolence. Tendency to be scattered.
Joyfully living in the moment, the Jester seeks to lighten up the world. Able to bend perspective, twist meanings and interpret events and people in surprising ways, the Jester can speak truth to those in power. The Jester appreciates beauty, change, surprised and wicked intellect. Known for exuberant antics, the Jester transcends tradition, convention and societal norms. Boldly original, irreverent and mischievous, this archetype sees life as a wild and crazy playground of opportunity.
Faithfulness. Passionate sensuality, sexuality and spirituality. Expansiveness. Vitality. Appreciation.
Obsession. Promiscuity. Jealousy. Game playing. Fear of not being enough or being alone and disconnected.
The Lover posses an unbridled appreciation and affection for beauty, closeness and collaboration. Motivated to attract, give, receive and nurture life-affirming, intimate love and strengthened by great passion and devotion, the Lover fosters bliss and unity. This results in an experience of love that goes beyond an emotion or mind-set to become a way of being. The Lover is an archetype of transformation and rebirth offering a remembrance of external transcendent ideas that elevate the human experience.
Unbridled sense of wonder. Purity. Freedom from preconceptions. Trust. Unconditional love. Spontaneity. Honesty. Wholesomeness.
Propensity to retreat into fantasy. Tendency to avoid, deny or repress problems. Fear of punishment for something wrong or bad.
The Innocent is pure, virtuous and faultless, free from the responsibility of having done anything hurtful or wrong. The eternal optimist, this archetype’s glass is always half full. The Innocent lacks guile and corruption, and it seeks the promise of paradise. In its most powerful expression, the Innocent embodies a sense of oneness and renewal, representing inner peace and acceptance. This archetype can trigger nostalgia for simpler times.
Independence. Bravery. Freedom. Self-sufficiency. Nonconformity.
Self-indulgence. Aimlessness. Alienation.
The Explorer is motivated by a powerful craving for new experiences. Greatly valuing autonomy, the Explorer has a core desire to be free of the establishment, but not necessarily to have to challenge it. This archetype is willing to do just about anything to avoid boredom and entrapment, even if it means taking great risks. The explorer is known to push boundaries and delight in unexpected discoveries, embracing a “no limit” philosophy.
The Outlaw / Rebel
Leadership. Risk taking. Progressive and provocative thought. Bravery. Personal power. Brutal honesty. Experimentation.
Susceptibility to being fueled by hate or anger. Negativity. Loss of boundaries. Criminal behavior or lawlessness. Fanaticism.
The Rebel is a force to be reckoned with, representing the voice that’s had enough. The Rebel is a key to social change and acceptance as a harbinger of fresh perspectives, new outlooks, aspirational change and awakening. A rule breaker, the Rebel challenges convention by questioning the status quo and pushing the envelope. With bold leadership, courage and power, the Rebel helps to dispel others’ fear of victimization.
Wisdom. Intelligence. Truth seeking. Clarity of thought. Rational decision making. Prudence. Talent as a diligent researcher.
Fear of being duped or ignorant. Susceptibility to feeling disconnected from reality. Dogmatism, righteousness or arrogance. Lack of action.
The Sage is motivated by independence, cognitive fulfillment and truth. This archetype has a foundational identity attachment to the belief that thinking is what defines the human experience. The sage responds well to expert opinion but is inherently a pragmatic skeptic. Possessing a high need for autonomy, the sage values learning for its own sake because it allows for detachment from the masses and the capacity to remain objective.
Happiness, Warmth, Optimism, Clarity, Competence, Bright, Sunny, Energy, Joy, Enthusiasm, Enlightenment
Irresponsible, Unstable, Naive, Caution, Sickness, Childish
Love, Power, Excitement, Boldness, Youthful, Passion, Energy, Heat, Strength, Desire, Sensuality, Intensity, Speed
Lust, Anger, Danger, Warning, Reckless, Aggression
Friendly, Bold, Confidence, Success, Courage, Stimulation, Fascination, Happiness, Creativity, Enthusiasm
Safety, Peace, Growth, Health, Freshness, Environment, Money, Fertility, Healing, Harmony
Envy, Jealousy, Guilt, Greed
Spiritual, Healing, Protection, Serenity, Introspection
Envy, Femininity, Indifference, Selfishness
Strength, Competence, High Quality, Dependable, Trust, Tranquility, Peace, Integrity, Intelligence, Security, Balance, Calm, Safety, Committed
Corporate, Coldness, Sadness, Seriousness
Happy, Healthy, Feminine, Sweet, Playful, Energy, Passionate, Romance
Creative, Wise, Independent, Authority, Power, Sophisticated, Royalty, Nobility, Ambition, Wealth, Dignity, Mystery, High, Class
Brown / Tan
Rugged, Earth, Outdoors, Longevity, Dependable, Comfort, Strength, Modesty, Independence
Conservative, Dogmatic, Dull, Laziness, Isolation
Wealth, Wisdom, Valuable, Traditional
Silver / Light Gray
Glamorous, High Tech, Graceful, Sleek, Wisdom, Intellectual, Knowledge, Refined, Neutral
Indecisive, Dull, Unsettles, Pessimistic
Black / Dark Gray
Class, Elegance, Formal, Protection, Security, Intelligence, Solid, Power, Mystery, Dominance, Authority, Sophisticated
Fear, Grief, Death, Gloomy, Unknown, Emptiness, Overwhelm
Goodness, Sincerity, Purity, Balance, Calm, Fresh, Cleanliness, Easy, Innocence, Light
Complementary Color Schemes
Complementary colors are directly across from one another on the color wheel. They are “opposites” in the sense that complementary colors do not contain any of the same color elements. Complementary colors create high contrast and interesting visual tension, and so a complementary color scheme can be a good choice when you want to have a dominant Primary color with a “splash” of a secondary color. (A 70/30 mix of Dominant/Accent color is a good place to start).
Split Complementary Color Scheme
If your color scheme calls for three colors instead of two, a Split Complementary color scheme could be a good fit.
Split complements generally use one Primary color as the base, and then “split” the complement by using colors that are adjacent to it on either side.
A Split Complement color scheme can have a similar level of contrast and visual interest to a standard Complementary scheme, but with more variety.
Analogous Color Scheme
Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel. As such, analogous color schemes aim more for harmony than contrast.
Analogous color schemes can be good when you want your branded material, website or app to form the backdrop for a more prominent piece of content such as an image or video.
Because analogous colors do not have high contrast from one another, you may need to introduce another color into the mix if you want to grab attention with buttons or calls to action.
Monochromatic Color Scheme
Even more subtle than Analogous color schemes, Monochromatic color schemes tend to be based on a single Primary color, along with a handful of tints, shades and tones.
Monochromatic color schemes can form a good base for pairing with a single complementary color for contrast.
Additional Color Schemes: Triangle (Triad), Rectangle (Tetradic), and Square
It’s possible to create additional color schemes by selecting colors in a Triangle, Rectangle or Square shape around the color wheel.
Because these schemes have a lot of variety, they can be difficult to pull off harmoniously.
However, these more complex schemes can be good if your business deals with several distinct categories of things — e.g. focus areas, independent topics like news, finance and sports, or offers several distinct service types. In these situations, the complex color schemes provide a coherent color-coded ways to identify different offerings. Each offering might then have its own “within category” Analogous or Monochromatic color scheme.