Google has a three-hour brand sprint workshop methodology that’s covered in the book Sprint. The sprint is a series of six exercises that are designed to quickly align leaders around a vision for their brand. Within the three-hour session, you cover the “why,” “how,” and “what” of your company, starting with “the why” as the big reason you’re going to be successful or how you’re going to solve your customers’ problems.
The point of these exercises, it turns out, is to make the abstract idea of “our brand” into something concrete. After doing the exercises, the team gets a common language to describe what their company is about — and all subsequent time-sucking decisions about visuals, voice, and identity become way easier. We tested the google method and innovated it over the years to this 3 hour format:
THE 6 EXERCISES OF THE BRAND SPRINT
FUTURE NOW to define the long-term desirable state of your business
MINIMUM VIABLE AUDIENCE to define who would miss your services/products if they were gone
TOP 3 VALUES makes your why tangible and real
AVATAR helps you define who you really care about and who cares about you
TONE OF VOICE defines the aroma and texture of your brand
COMPETITIVE LANDSCAPE compares your brand to other companies
1. The sprint starts before the sprint
The 3 hours brand sprint relies on good prep work in advance. We let every participant do the exercise FUTURE NOW in advance and post it into our project room (in our case it’s Asana, but every space work where you can share a link to a Google Doc or Evernote link).
2. Build on the work of others
We use the FOCUS BRIEF to collect, visualize and share all the current inputs (current increments) and desired deliverables (desired increments). The sprint is then adapted to be exactly the transformation process from inputs (example: marketing brochure 1.0) to outputs (in this case marketing brochure 2.0).
3. Enable creativity through limited time slots
In order to keep to the workshop to the allotted time, it is important to time-box every exercise. The better you prepare the design with the FOCUS BRIEF, the easier moderation will be, like “Here’s the exercise, here’s the format. Everybody go to your workspace—I’m turning on the timer.”
4. Work in public
Many of our sprints run remote, with team members scattered all around the globe. In these cases we use the zoom video feature all can see and hear each other throughout the entire sprint. Even when working on an individual exercise, keep the video on because you’ll only work alone for a few minutes at a time. This really helps feel like all are in the same room and working together. Even better of course to fly in and work in an actual large room together. In this case let every individual work happen on the wall (projected, whiteboard or flip chart). Remember the petri dishes insights – when working in public in one space, cross-pollination happens and the magic of collaboration unfolds. The reverse is also true – when people in one room hide the information and don’t work in public (because they just sit and talk, without visualizing their thoughts) nothing creative happens.
5. Create a clear visual progression
There are some areas where each person does a big brain dump, you’d vote on results as a team, and the decider (a pre-defined role) would ultimately select her top choices for each category. So in addition to the individual work spaces, you’ll have a second frame where everyone puts their work and a third frame where the decider chooses her favorites from the second board.
It’s really beneficial to have this clear visual progression of the exercise, everyone’s work on it, and the output. Not only will it help you to see the progress you make as a team, but it means that there will we no need to transcribe it or do anything after the meeting will be over. You could easily share it with other people, like the agency you work with on branding and other people in our organization. And there’s no need to explain what you did (the next usual time-sucker) because all the instructions and the work is already there.
At the end of the brand sprint, members often say it was the best meeting they ever had. It is both productive and fun. Now that the team is aligned around common goals, values, and vision for the brand, the subsequent branding activities can be done in a very short amount of time. New employees and new agencies to work with can be onboarded in a fast and easy way.
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