You have engaged with a new graphic designer, copy writer or another creative vendor. It’s common for clients to work under the premise that simply tasking the creative with a project, providing a few instructions, and waiting for the magic to happen are the steps that will lead them to checking off the box for the creative challenge at hand. We work in an era that values quick decision-making and swiftly moving to the next task, so in this light it’s natural for savvy professionals to follow this instinct. However, effective creative outcomes often stem from a more strategic starting point. The path a creative project takes, whether it’s in the realm of design, copy, video or images, should start with a conversation about your goals and what makes your brand unique. Enter the brand discovery.

What is a brand discovery?

The brand discovery process is different for every business, every project and every creative strategist. Only one meeting might be needed for some, while for others, several meetings may be needed. However, the primary goal of a brand discovery is the same: create a strong connection between your brand and your audience, setting the stage for growth, loyalty and success.

Understanding your audience is essential 
One of the underlying purposes of a brand discovery is to understand your core audience. After all, it’s your customers who keep you in business, so learning about them is paramount. Creative strategists will want to know their gender, age, income, personality traits and behaviors. The information collected here will help creative strategists make brand more relatable to your audience, and relatability is one of the foundations of trust and confidence in your brand.

Another important step: Examining the competition
A good brand discovery will also include a competitive analysis. A competitive analysis will uncover not only direct competitors, but also similar businesses. Asking who “you” are may not be enough. It is just as critical to ask who “they” are. Once this is defined, an analysis on their strengths and weaknesses compared to your brand may shed some new light on what your creative marketing strategy should be.

What more does it involve?
A brand discovery unveils various insights including where your brand has been, where would you like your brand to go, what creative challenges you have faced, or how will the new creative challenge co-exist with your brand.

Why do I need one?

Many clients have their own perception about the necessity of a brand discovery, often associating it exclusively with developing a brand strategy or with their brand logo.  However, it’s more fundamental.  In its simplest form a brand discovery is an exercise to “discover” your brand, which may be essential regardless of the deliverable. Clients may be asking “how do I know if I need a brand discovery?” Well, the answer might lay in this analogy: would you email a new doctor’s office and ask for a diagnosis for your illness before the doctor has even seen you? You could try. But, chances are your new doctor will need you to schedule an office visit so they could ask questions about your medical history and your symptoms. They may even need to run some tests before they can properly diagnose your health issue.  This same principal applies to a brand discovery.

Not convinced? Need more clarity? Well, here’s another analogy: Starting creative projects without a discovery is much like shooting arrows blindfolded. Creative strategists would be completely blind, and they would never, ever hit the bullseye on the first shot, or even the second or the third. The success of your creative project can be very subjective. A good brand discovery takes subjectivity and unfounded creative preferences out of the equation and replaces it with informed choices.

Some brands may already have an extensive brand guidelines book, with the brand persona, core values, brand tone and manifesto already written by a previous branding agency. This is certainly great and may very well eliminate the need for a brand discovery. But, as in the previous analogy, when you need a new doctor, that doctor may have their own questions, or may ask for different tests that will help them make their own informed decisions. This same principal applies to creative strategists.

A brand discovery is the compass that steers the ship of creative projects towards success. It’s the essential groundwork that ensures every creative challenge aligns with the brand’s identity and resonates with its intended audience.