5 questions to build your brand

Published On
May 17, 2024

Build Your Company Brand by answering 5 Simple Questions

Getting the thinking right, before the doing is a hallmark of great brands. It takes just 5 answers to build your brand on objective business foundations – not creative subjectivity. To build a strong, resilient and high performing brand your management must agree the following, and be aligned in their understanding of, and answers to; BrandQuest’s 5 Essential Brand Questions:

1. What is your brand story?

2. Where will your business be in 4 years?

3. Why you?

4. Who are you?

5. How will you get there?

How we do it:

BrandQuest has developed a unique, proprietorial brand strategy process. We work with brands and organisations of all sizes and all kinds across diverse categories to ensure they have a brand strategy that can deliver their business plan. And this change process comes about through answering these 5 questions:

BrandQuestion 1; What is your Brand Story?

The answer to this question lies in the history of your business, or if your business is a relatively new one, then it’s the story behind your ‘start-up’.

However, for those companies with a history, we delve into the past to learn all we can, for in history we learn of hardships and prosperity, of tough times and good.

As President Robert Kennedy said: “Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total; of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

Question 1 forms the start of our full-day brand process workshop, and, from the assembled group (usually comprised of your management team and any others who have been charged with taking the company forward) we begin a chronological ‘story’ from the brand beginnings through the various phases and stages of the company’s history.

And the story is ‘picked up’ chronologically with the arrival of each person as they join the company. Retelling stories and highlights and major wins (and losses) throughout the years.

During this process BrandQuest ‘probe’ for catalytic changes, and about the ‘culture’ at the time. And, so it goes until the most current members to join have brought us up to the present day. Corporate and cultural background provides an insight into the Company and how and why it operates in the present day the way it does.

An additional benefit of this ‘time recap’ is that few CEO’s or MD’s are aware that others around the table - their more recent C-suite and senior management additions, may be unaware of the rich and diverse history of the company.

Why is Question 1 important to the future of the brand?

For BrandQuest, it helps inform and frame the Brand Essence of the company. Your Brand Essence is an important driver of your future Brand Strategy and is a two-word summation – a unique two-word rallying phrase – of what makes your company culture unique.

Forget old-fashioned and long-winded Mission Statements that gather dust and have little tangible relevance – over 150 Brand Quest Clients have embedded their own individual and truly authentic two-word Brand Essence into their company culture.

Two-words that will stand as a behavioural beacon for staff, for how they might act, how they serve their clients, how they respect and respond to their peers and colleagues.

Two incredibly powerful words that can become your powerful brand asset for your business today…and the future.

BrandQuestion 2; Where will your business be in 4 years?

The answer to this question requires the input of the entire management team. It may surprise to know that, based on over one hundred brand strategy workshops – from medium size and large national companies to listed entities - less than 20% had ever mapped a metric vision of their future.

Your Vision drives your Marketing Strategy. A clearly articulated business vision is instrumental in setting the parameters and establishing objectives for your brand and its marketing.  

But first, what do we mean by vision?

Vision, as defined in business literature, can vary from a simple sentence to a much more detailed account. Our view of vision is aligned with Jim Collins’ and Jerry Porras’ who define it as: “A vivid description of what a company will be like in a number of years from now — being as descriptive as possible.” (Building Your Company’s Vision - Harvard Business Review.)

If you were planning a journey, your vision would be your destination. Your strategy might include the route you plan, and your tactics would include the transportation method.

So how does your business Vision directly impact your marketing strategy?

Your marketing strategy is the conduit that converts your business vision into actionable plans that affect your customer and/or potential client. As an example, let’s compare two scenario visions.

Vision 1 is a computer company growing at its current organic growth rate, while Vision 2 has a vision for dynamic growth, leaping 30%+ each year over the next three years.

While the development of a marketing strategy for Vision 1 is clearly important, it is hardly going to revolutionise or dramatically change the way this company goes to market.

Conversely, it’s not difficult to foresee that Vision 2 will have a far more significant impact on marketing requirements and resources. To begin with, the marketing budget to drive incremental sales will most likely need to be significantly increased in this scenario.

Potentially this will also affect the number of people that will need to be devoted across product development, sales channels, marketing and perhaps accounts and finance departments. Such ambitious growth is likely to also have impact on the company’s geographic presence, its pricing policies, channel strategy, and even where and how it promotes its products or services.

The impact of this Vision scenario on a marketing strategy is likely to be considerable.

Similarly, if Vision 2 turnover goals are based on the development of a new product or an additional service to attain the ambitious growth objectives, the marketing strategy will be directly impacted.

This may determine the need for a product awareness strategy at the very least, but it might also mean much more, for example a new brand logo or packaging development, new brochures, an addition to or update of the website and so on.

So, a company’s business vision is the key determining factor and driver of the planned and future marketing strategy.

There are certain drivers that have more influence than others on the development of a marketing strategy. Before investing any money on marketing, we suggest as a minimum, that a company must have a clearly articulated metric Vision — agreed to by all management and stakeholders — that incorporates the following drivers for growth:

Revenue and profit.

What are your revenue and profit projections? As described above, the anticipated growth in these numbers will have a direct effect on all marketing. We find that if a business wants to significantly increase its growth rate, it will also need to significantly increase its marketing efforts to drive those sales (while still maintaining its profit ratios).

Market penetration.

What are your goals for your market penetration by product and market? The higher the penetration rate, due either to increased competitive pressure (stealing share from your competitors), growing the market (requiring greater brand awareness) or growing a new market (educating the market), the greater the need to increase marketing efforts above the normal sales and marketing ratio.


In achieving or working towards your business Vision, what geographical presence might you have in 3–4 years’ time? This may simply be across additional suburbs, more cities within your state or country wide, regional, or even global.

Geography will dictate how focused or widespread your marketing will need to be, as well as what types of media to use for coverage and efficiency. For instance, if you are focused on an entire city, you might consider mass radio advertising as opposed to a local suburb where radio may well be an over-kill (incurring lots of wastage). Conversely, bus or transit advertising may be efficiently used locally but might be too expensive to cover an entire city.

Product and services.

What product mix do you intend to have? Clearly these impact on how you market your products, how you might bundle them, cross-promote them and up-sell them.

How will your business evolve over time?

Vision dictates marketing strategy in much the same way as a destination drives your choice of route, your vision directly impacts your marketing strategy.

It is critically important that you identify the unique business success drivers in order to be fully aware of their impact on your overall marketing strategy. For these reasons, it’s also vital that as you periodically check and align your business Vision you take the time to examine the effects of any changes upon your marketing strategy and re-align accordingly.

Once this is achieved, your marketing strategy will be aligned to your business strategy, and you will have important indicators to identify any subsequent changes required if there any subsequent changes in your business strategy or vision.

BrandQuestion 3; Why you?

‘Look before you leap’ is an idiom that most people would agree with and apply regularly in their day-to-day lives. BrandQuestion 3, (the Why You?) represents the mind of your brand.

It means that you should think carefully and consider the possible results or consequences of your actions before committing to them. In the same manner, when it comes to marketing, it’s essential to get the thinking right before you proceed to the doing.

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him or her and sells itself. (Peter Drucker, Marketing Consultant and Educator 1909-2005)

We refer to this section of our process as the BrandThinkingTM, and it really encapsulates the answers to the first two of our fundamental BrandQuestions: Why you? and Who are you?

The answer to the BrandQuestion ‘Why you?’ is found in your responses to three sub-questions. They are: 1. What market are you competing in? 2. What customer segments are within that market? And, 3. Which segment/s can your product or service best deliver to?

In addressing each of the above consider first what market you want to compete in.

Defining the market you compete in is crucial to your brand Positioning Statement, which is the ultimate answer to BrandQuestion3 ‘Why You?

Importantly, YOU are in control of deciding exactly how broad or narrow your market is to be.

The broader your market the more competition you’re likely to have, conversely the narrower your market the less competition you’re like to have.

As an example, Coke is in the ‘refreshment’ market. It’s that broad.

It could choose to compete in a more discreet market, such as ‘soft drinks’, or an even more niche market like; ‘Cola drinks’. But Coke has defined their market broadly, as ‘refreshment’. The same example applies for any and every business.

You get to choose your field of play i.e. your market.

Next, you need to build a Competitive Matrix – one that takes YOUR market and plots your business and your competitors on two axis that you believe will ideally and clearly separate you from your competitors) within this market.

Your market construct should be debated amongst your management team. To say you’re in the ‘plumbing market’ for instance just won’t cut it when you are fighting for every customer, and against every competitor who is in that broad market.

But a refined definition of say ‘Gas and water valves and fittings’ means your market is smaller and your competitors less. Next, to get closer to the answer ‘Who are you’ you need to create a matrix of Gas and Water valves and fittings’ and then create an ‘x’ and ‘y’ axis – the two axis should explain your two strengths within this market. But these axis’ need to place you ahead of your competition.

For instance, if the ‘x’ axis is ‘highest quality ‘and the ‘y’ axis is ‘service and reliability’ – both being from Low to High - then you would next place your brand in the top right corner of the matrix (because these are your strengths and should be ‘highest’ on both axis’. Next, to ensure these axis’ truly reflect and will differentiate your brand, make a list of your known competitors and place them against the same axis within the matrix.

If a competitor rates the same as you, and you cannot differentiate yourself then you need to reconfigure both or one of your axis to place the competitor below or away from you.

Now that you have defined your market and your core competitive differences (the two axis) you need to find your most likely customers in that market.

Irrespective of the market you operate in, you simply cannot be all things to all people, so you need to segment your market to define those most likely to be attracted to you, your products or services.

Smart marketers and successful businesses realise that you cannot succeed trying to be all things to all people.

The more meaningful and appealing you can be to a select group (or groups) of potential customers, the more opportunity your brand and marketing messages have of generating the action you seek from them.

There are many ways to segment the total market including demographics, psychographics, behavioural and value segmentation.

At BrandQuest, our preference is to move beyond these and instead use motivational segmentation.

Why? Because when you better understand what motivates customers to want your product or service, you’ll be more able to create meaningful and relevant sales and marketing communications that directly address their needs.

In hundreds of case studies across hundreds of businesses of all sizes and types we have discovered that almost every market can be segmented into just six to nine primary motivational segments.

Once the management team is satisfied that the selected market segments represent the core motivations of the entire market its time to select which of those segments your business can best deliver to and define as your Target Customers.

This process will lead you to developing the answer to BrandQuestion 3. ‘Why You?’ (or in marketing terminology your Brand Positioning Statement) and forms the basis of all your brand communications to your customers.

Through the development of this internal Positioning Statement, it ensures you are constantly reiterating your points of difference to the target market in order to position you in their mindset, but also to help them understand and rationalise why they should choose you over a competitor.

So, the ‘Why You?’ is a construct of three key elements as outlined above:

1. Your Market (you decide how broad or how narrow)

2. Your Target Audience (who you need to say it to?)

3. Your Points of Difference (what makes you different?)

Use the axis from competitive matrix and Strengths from a SWOT analysis to help you define just 3 compelling Points of Difference – what makes you unique in your market and therefore the reason customers will buy from you, which are then applied as follows in your Positioning Statement:

“For (insert TARGET AUDIENCE); who want or need (insert your MARKET); company ‘x’ (your Company) is best because (insert POINTS OF DIFFERENCE 1, 2 and 3).

Following is an example showing the Positioning Statement developed for a BrandQuest Client who was entering the highly competitive industry of Commercial Building Insurance Rectification:

For Loss Adjusters, Project Managers and Engineers who require commercial insurance rectification works who want proactive, quality remediation from experienced specialists, IS Builders is the best solution because they provide:

• Specialist insurance rectification

• Proactive problem solving

• Quality outcomes

Here is the MARKET highlighted:

For loss adjusters, project managers and engineers who require commercial insurance rectification works who want proactive, quality remediation from experienced specialists, IS Builders is the best solution because they provide:

• Specialist insurance rectification

• Proactive problem solving

• Quality outcomes

Here are the TARGET AUDIENCE highlighted:

For loss adjusters, project managers and engineers who require commercial insurance rectification works who want proactive, quality remediation from experienced specialists, IS Builders is the best solution because they provide:

• Specialist insurance rectification

• Proactive problem solving

• Quality outcomes

Here are their POINTS OF DIFFERENCE highlighted:

For loss adjusters, project managers and engineers who require commercial insurance rectification works who want proactive, quality remediation from experienced specialists, IS Builders is the best solution because they provide:

• Specialist insurance rectification

• Proactive problem solving

• Quality outcomes

Using the Apple brand as an example, their positioning is:

For consumers who are looking for out of box, easy to use, cool technology to aid and organise their life (or business), Apple is the best consumer electronics company because it offers:

• a truly customer centric user-friendly experience

• a focus on enhancing your lifestyle through technology

• a cool and individual image

And their brand essence is: Simple Innovation.

BrandQuestion 4; Who are you?

The Heart of your brand is your Brand Essence. Your Brand Essence establishes a positive, powerful connection with everyone it touches and also creates a sustainable corporate culture for all to deliver to.

Your unique Brand Essence represents the relationship and intrinsic value the brand delivers to the customer, how it is communicated and marketed, the type of care and concern customers receive, and the way all management, staff and stakeholders support the brand.

For those who serve the brand, the essence is a beacon that drives, motivates and inspires continued commitment and cultural direction.

• What is it that ‘makes us tick’ what’s the heart and soul of our business brand?

• Are we: Innovative, conservative, risk-averse, risk-takers?

• Are we introverted/extroverted/serious or fun to deal with?

• What is our unique and compelling personality that attracts our customers beyond service or products?

• What do our customers really want from us?

“Just like a person, you can respect, like and even love a brand. Just as you like to be around certain people and not others, so also do you like to be with certain brands and not others.” Robert Blanchard, P&G executive - July 1999

Think of your company or organisation for a moment as a living, breathing human being.

Brand Essence is the heart and soul of a brand - a brand’s fundamental nature or quality. Usually stated in just two words, a brand’s essence is the one constant across product categories.

For instance, Nike's brand essence is, ‘Authentic athletic performance’; Optus, ‘Can do’; and Mercedes Benz, ‘Enduring passion’.

The brand essence is almost exclusively an internal statement and not a tagline. Often it is re-interpreted to give emotional meaning and context to the brand through the use of a tag line, normally closely aligned with its logo.

For Nike the tag line is ‘Just do it’; Optus, ‘Yes’; and Mercedes Benz, ‘Engineered like no other car’.

Think of your brand essence as the most basic building-block of your brand make-up.

Thinking of your brand as a person: their DNA helps explain who this person is, what this person thinks, how the person might act and feel, what the person looks like and how they might speak, communicate and even what fashion they might follow in their dress code.

The brand essence becomes the ‘soul’ and guiding light for the marketing of your business and the development of your brand culture.

The defining of your brand essence assists and drives much of your marketing and the way your brand consistently presents itself to the world. From the tone and manner of advertising, choice of colour palettes, typefaces and fonts, presentation and writing of documents, web sites and literature to the look of stores and delivery vehicles, the dress and uniforms of staff, and the look and fit-out of offices, foyers and reception areas.

Take the well-known Optus telecommunications brand as an example. Its brand essence was initially based upon the premise that when it entered the Australian market there was a monopoly situation with the then current telephony provider Telecom (Telstra). As a result of its strategic development, the brand essence for Optus was defined as ‘Can do’.

Think about it.

The monopolistic situation presented the Australian public with a ‘can’t-do’ attitude from their only provider. What an opportunity for a challenger brand, a newcomer, to take on the intransigent, intractable and distinctly customer un-friendly incumbent with a can-do attitude.

And so, armed with its can-do brand essence as a key driver, the company set about demonstrating how it can-do brand essence would permeate the company and the brand and the marketing communications to good effect.

In place of bureaucracy and departmentalising, open plans and flattened levels of management were put in place. This was can-do in workplace action. Throughout the business at all levels, staff were clearly educated to ‘deliver without delegation’, and not have to seek permission to approve a customer’s request within Optus’ capabilities.

Suddenly after what seemed like years of enduring a can’t-do attitude, the Australian mobile and digital market was presented with a fresh, optimistic and service driven ‘can-do’ company and attitude.

Displaying a can-do attitude was a key part in staff hiring, as it was in key performance reviews and job descriptions. The can-do brand essence was also translated into advertising. A tag line was developed to bring the essence to life.

More than twenty-five years after the development of the tagline, it still drives the marketing for the company: ‘Yes’.

Think of your brand as a person, what is it that attracts friends to it? What makes people want to bond with it?

People respond to shared values, they are attracted by certain types of people and personalities with which they emotionally respond.

Your brand is no different.

BrandQuestion 5; How will you get there?

If there is one recurring trait we witness above all others, it is that when it comes to marketing, far too many growing businesses move straight to the implementation of marketing tactics (actions) without the required thinking (ie; the brand strategy) before they commit.

Marketing tactics without an underpinning strategy are the enemy of good marketers.

We continually witness examples of companies that, whether through eagerness or ignorance, jump straight to the ‘doing’ tactics without considering why they’re doing what they are, what the right and relevant message is for best results, in which market and to which target audience? How they are going to judge or assess the response or who they want to target with their message and their vital marketing dollars.

“Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat" Sun Tzu – The art of war.

Use your marketing strategy to drive your marketing tactics. This requires two final steps, the first being a brand audit checklist followed by the creation of a top-line Brand Planning overview.

Your brand audit can be completed using your answer to BrandQuestion 2; Where do you want to be?

Carefully consider your metrics as outlined in the brand Vision, then ask yourself “Are our current primary brand assets capable of delivering to this vision?”

Your checklist needs to consider the following, honestly and without bias.

Your current:

• Business name

• Brand logo

• Trademarks and copyright ownership

• Brand tagline

• Brand Guidelines

• Website

• Copy & brand language guidelines

• Marketing materials

• Marketing responsibility

In assessing the answer to whether these historic and current brand assets are capable of delivering your 4-year vision ie; can they take you “from where you are to where you want to be?” BrandQuest provide their experienced and expert assessment.

This Brand Audit is then supported with a Brand Planning process. A high-level assessment of the steps required to bring about the positive changes required to achieve the outcomes you seek, and to move towards achieving your future vision.