Your Noteworthy Nine

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A Free Resource to Help Define Your Brand’s Unique Voice

By Andy Suggs

2020 has changed us all. A lot. And as we begin to wrap up the year and plan for 2021, there is no better time to reflect on your brand and make sure your marketing efforts are carving out a unique voice in your industry.

As you start to analyze your marketing against your competitors, you may quickly realize there is a lot of sameness. It makes sense, right? It seems to be working for them, so why shouldn’t we do the same? Same colors, same tone and same design approaches.

“In the world of branding, “same” is truly a 4-letter word.”

If you challenge yourself to think back to memorable brands or campaigns, nine times out of ten, they are memorable because they pivot against the norm. But, the key is to do this authentically. Branding never works if you are trying to be something you are not.

To help our clients find their unique voice, we rely on a handful of trusted tools and exercises. Many are slight variations of what other agencies use, but our “Noteworthy Nine” activity is unique and we wanted to share it with you. It is easy to do on your own and will not cost you anything to apply to your ongoing marketing efforts.

These key nine categories are neither good nor bad. Instead, each brand is either this or that. For example, you cannot be humble and bold, but you can carry yourself as one or the other. The first eight categories are rather foundational to any brand, and we have added a ninth category for you to fill in with a set of adjectives that may be unique to your space.

Before you begin filling out this chart, revisit your competitor’s brands to familiarize yourself with their current messaging and how you would associate them with the defined descriptors. The trick here is to do this as your potential customer would. You likely have insights and a history which gives you a deeper level than most. So, go to their website. Check out their social feeds. Read some of their case studies if they have any. As you immerse yourself in their communications, you will get a feel for their brand as a potential customer may.

To properly fill out the chart, follow these simple steps:

Step 1: Chart Your Competition

Associate one of the 3 icons with your 3 main competitors and chart each brand out amongst the multiple categories. And, as is often the case when you fill out the chart, you quickly see how your competition tends to cluster together. A sea of sameness that feels comfortable to all, but ultimately is confusing to your customer. This quickly leads to brands trying to differentiate themselves through pricing- or features-based messaging. 

😬 Insert cringe emoji here. Pricing and features change quickly. This is a bad, bad approach.

Step 2 – Map Your Brand

With the star, chart your brand as objectively as you can to identify areas of opportunity. This step is often the most difficult as you live and breathe your brand every day. So, take the same approach and review your website and any easily accessible marketing materials. Look in from the outside. What are you communicating? What is the key takeaway you are getting? Is there even a key takeaway?

Step 3 – Evaluate Your Answers

How do you compare? Are there many commonalities and glaring voids in your space? Should you find that your brand is like all of the others, it may be time to take a hard look internally at what your strengths are and if there are untapped, missed opportunities. This may require an outside perspective, but that differentiator is always there, somewhere.

To get your free “Noteworthy Nine” document, click here.

If you have any questions about how to apply your results or would like another perspective on your findings, please feel free to reach out here.

About the Author

Born and raised in Atlanta, Andy started solving visual problems as a high school sophomore by helping the Roswell Hornet cheerleaders concept and design football banners. Andy graduated from UGA in 1997 and became a Partner at Reckon in 2004. His goal is to build a company where creatives can grow and flourish alongside their clients. Andy lives in Roswell with his wife, son, two dogs, a cockatiel, and a few dozen koi. He can often be found fishing down the street from his house (don’t tell the koi) or getting crushed on Xbox by his son.