I’m very excited about your question and want to answer from a personal experience. (I’m always espousing, the say/show model, the walk your talk model, so here is something I experienced, and think the same or similar is not uncommon as insights, realizations go.)
When I was finishing my thesis, a colleague knocked on my door one morning to ask me a question. He was doing the same thing, and ask me, “Which statistical formula would produce the best result.” To which I asked him, “What do you want to know?”
My question rang such a loud bell in my head that I know it taught me much more than anything I helped him to do that day, and I realized, suddenly, that, although I had a good handle on this as it applied to my work, I did not extrapolate it to me. In my academic career I hadn’t ask this very simple question of myself, beyond superficial major choices, areas, etc., although I was actively applying it to a scientific paper (and going through requirements of attaining a degree.) The ultimate benefit of education. To extrapolate methodology onto self. To know thy self.) What did I want to know — what was driving me? And it starts with simple questions — but it doesn’t stop with simple questions.
What is at the center of what drives you (your brand)?
What are your (your brand’s) central driving forces?
I’m often asked, “What strategy do we implement and at what juncture?” “When should we implement this or that?” “What should we say, how/where/when should we say it?” all very valid, very legitimate, good questions (and a creative paradise of work!) But like my What do you want to know? realization, under many to most questions is still lurking the unanswered one, What is the purpose? and at the very least, What do you want your brand to accomplish – and, at what juncture? And the answer is not, “To sell our widget – or to sell x number of widgets by x time period.” As Simon Sinek would explain to you, “That’s a result.” And the answer is not as complex as asking it of an entire person, no. A brand is not as complex as a person (so don’t get jumpy. smile!)
But, there is a question before your question.
It’s obvious when we think about it, right? but with brilliant new: products, services technologies in hand, and public deadlines encroaching we suddenly find ourselves making best guesses, to fill in blanks, and cobble together descriptive pieces of what and how, but not so much of why – or completely stumped over very basic brand strategy and marketing questions, because we have not confronted THE most obvious one. The top question: What is the purpose?, Why are we doing this? — from which all things flow.
Or alternatively (comically, cynically) perhaps the blessed convenience, and advantage of public deadlines pending (depending on your level of aversion toward such endeavors) – to not have the cycles – to get to the question, and simply be forced to delegate it, and choose from the best second or third degree, or outside guesses, only to find them lacking and inaccurate. No second degree, or third degree, or outside vision can do this for you. They can help you, guide you, mentor you, yes!, but your absolute participation is required. A quick look at great brands, companies, establishments, and we see there legendary fingerprints so deeply impressed onto every aspect there is absolute clarity what founders had in heart and mind, and what purpose was driving them. (And they had help. In the form of teachers, mentors, adversaries, students. Greatness doesn’t emerge whole from a vacuum and I’m not at all suggesting it does – but that purpose is of top, strategic, central importance.)
What is your (brand’s) purpose, is a question that is, easy – hard to answer. (Sometimes never fully answered.) And it needs to be asked repeatedly throughout the life-cycle. And sometimes changed (sometimes it’s just wrong, or wrong for the time, or something deeper, more central presents itself that you now see and a rebranding ensues.) But the bottom line is, the faster it’s fully understood, the faster everything falls into place. The faster your customers are identified, their location, an understanding of how to form good relationships with them, what new business offerings and new lines of business will benefit them, and so on. Then, your focus comes clearly into view.
Find your purpose. Find your focus.
(Here’s a GREAT example I posted shortly ago.)
There are many good, smart people, tools, texts, and ideas to help you get there. Fewer short cuts than advertised, ultimately (beware) but you don’t have to go it alone. None of the greats did and you don’t have to either.
Working towards a clearer purpose will help – in the extreme – answer your Q.