Defining your brand can pose a significant strategic business challenge for organizations. This is particularly true when your organization is trying to work through defining your brand  in a group setting. In these situations, there’s often a tendency among individuals who live “inside” the organization to suppose it can stand for everything a company desires. That is generally impractical and a recipe for failure when ultimately your customers and the marketplace are going to determine how your brand lives in their minds and fulfills their expectations.

Here’s an alternative strategic thinking exercise to employ.

Start by asking, “What doesn’t our brand stand for or represent?”

By beginning with defining your brand through a “not” definition, you may subsequently be able to more readily express a succinct, targeted brand definition.

The strategic thinking exercise works beyond business brand definition efforts. You can also use it when having trouble narrowing the number of strategic or creative concepts you’re trying to fit into other things you may be trying to articulate. While you want to know what you stand for, it’s equally valuable to be able to say what you don’t represent.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. We draw on our varied strategy experience in defining new brands, jump starting lagging ones, and  rehabilitating battered brands. Email us at [email protected] or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

3 Responses to “Defining Your Brand – A Strategic Thinking Exercise Defining “Nots””

  1. Interesting post. I like the approach, as it is often said that the hardest part about defining any strategy is deciding what NOT to do. The secret being to define what you will do – and keeping it tight and specific. So think this is a good approach as well when trying to define the brand position. The key also being to get it down to one key unique and differentiated idea. So maybe one test is the “why” you not doing it?

    • Mike Brown says:

      Thank for the “Why not?” addition to this, Gary. Why questions are tremendously helpful to getting to underlying motives for decisions and actions.


  1. 16 Articles on Defining Brand Strategy and Business Branding Topics | The Brainzooming Group | Strategy Consulting and Strategic Planning - March 29, 2012

    […] Defining What Your Brand Isn’t – If you’re stuck trying to make your brand extend too far, start with what it isn’t. […]