The Game Of 20 Questions

A simple exercise that identifies some incredibly important information about your brand

We’ve talked before about why you shouldn’t run a business without a good sense of your brand. So now we’re going to give you a peak behind the velvet curtain and into the highly complicated method that is at the beginning of that definition process.
We play the game of 20 questions.
More accurately, we use a set of 20 very specific questions that are designed to get underneath your brand. If you’re doing it right, these don’t have simple answers, and often times there are follow up questions or answers that unlock more questions. And to be fair, some of these are multi-level questions, so technically there are more than 20, but the extra ones are just clarification or follow up questions.
Instead of giving away our highly coveted trade secrets, we’re going to give you a taste. You have to hire us to get the real thing.
There are five general categories that these questions fall into: Purpose, Point of Difference, Core Offering, Competitors, and Customers.
We like purpose-driven brands. We think they just work better and make more sense. Every business is supposed to make money, but we like pushing clients to define their underlying reasons for existing. Any company worth its salt stands for something – there are values that exist (or that are desired). And there is some kind of future the owner(s)/CEO has in mind. This section captures all of that.
Point of Difference
The next set of questions covers what makes the company, product, or service different or better than other people doing the same thing. It is not just important, but necessary, to define why someone might want to buy your widget over the 20 other widgets that seem to be the same. This could link back to Purpose, but generally there is some point of substantive difference we try to latch onto.
Core Offering
This section may seem to make sense before Point of Difference, but we actually think the specifics of the product are less important than either the POD or the Purpose. It’s almost incidental – necessary for slotting in the right space, but not much beyond that.
Next, we identify the competitive environment. We want to know who else is in the space and how they all rank out. This gives us some areas that we dig into later in research phases, but any answers we can glean from our client help. This section also looks into where the category is headed – beyond just the players – looking at trends and trajectories.
Fundamental to everything we do is a really clear definition of the target. We need to know demographics and psychographics, here. Lot’s of clients want to target everyone, but the reality is their product appeals to someone specific – and it was designed to solve some specific problems (hopefully). We also think here about what success looks like – beyond mere revenue numbers. We want to know how we’re going to know that we’ve arrived.
And that, believe it or not, gives us the snapshot we need to get started. It is an efficient use of our clients’ time and can be done live, over the phone, or even via email.

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