5 ways a workshop will give you a better brand strategy

An intriguing question from a client prompted some introspection this week. I was planning to use a workshop to kick off a naming strategy for a brand you’ll know well.

This client had had three other proposals but we were the only team suggesting a workshop. The others were happy to take a brief, do the work and present it back. And my client’s new boss was wondering why our approach was different.

Whether we’re doing brand strategy, tone of voice, behaviour change…or naming, I always start with a workshop if I can. So it never occurred to me that the value wouldn’t be obvious, and that got me thinking about the benefits.

So here are 5 reasons you should always start a brand project with a workshop:

1. It’ll make your scope really clear

Often, the apparent problem isn’t the underlying problem. And that’s something that’s not always clear until you get the right people together. The more questions you ask, the deeper you dig, the clearer that becomes. A project may be about tackling a symptom, but a well-run workshop can help you understand the true cause.

2. It helps crucial people agree

I once saw a new initiative, costing months of work and £150k, trashed in a moment, by a director who wasn’t bought into the approach from the start.

So I’ve learnt to get a smooth sign-off by involving the right people from the start. A written brief helps, but if you can get the people signing the cheques and making the decisions in a workshop together, you can get them agreeing on an approach and buying into the process.

3. It’ll enrich the brief

A workshop will help you tune into your current culture and thinking. You’ll get a clearer picture of where you’re starting from and where a project can take you. And it gives you the chance to hear what other people think and feel first hand, which means you’ll make fewer assumptions. The end result is then more in tune with the true needs of the organisation, so whatever the output, it’s more likely to stick.

4. You’ll get better-quality thinking

A workshop gives you space to think, reflect and explore a topic, away from your usual torrent of email and the pressure of getting through your to-do list. Doing that as a group brings more perspectives together, so you can see more angles. With the right facilitation, people help each other to think better and that helps good strategy emerge.

5. It’ll be great team-building

We get people exploring what they’re like at their best because recognising what’s already good puts people into a positive frame of mind for exploring new things. So as well as tackling the specific issue, a workshop is great team-building. For example, when I used workshops to help British Lung Foundation get to grips with their culture and brand, CEO, Dr Penny Woods, said:

“As well as getting the output he needed, our staff found them one of the best team-building activities ever. Thank you, Ben, for everything!”