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    4 Replies Latest reply on Apr 14, 2008 8:35 AM by iMicrobrand

    Use a Brand Story Board?

    ibranz Wayfarer
      Recently a friend asked me to comment on his company brand. Rather than
      overloading him with definitions and common practices, we simply took
      out a small stack of paper and created a storyboard.

      Whether your are creating a feature-length movie, animation, or You
      Tube video, a storyboard helps frame an idea into a series of logical
      steps or a beginning, middle, and end. My friend has a successful
      business ($2.1M annual revenue) and doesn’t need to change his business
      model. However, his question was really about the message his firm was
      communicating to the business community at large. In effect, it’s more
      about aligning his business and brand strategy than changing his
      business design.


      So, why a storyboard? I believe things should be simple. A story
      board is a direct approach to telling your target audience what you do,
      how you differentiate yourself from others, and the value you provide.
      More importantly, you need to discuss what problems your audience are
      trying to solve on a daily basis and provide information, ideas, and
      possible solutions. The storyboard process helps you think in terms of
      your audience (outside-in) and how they would view you message. If you
      primary medium is your web site, then the way you present information
      should enable a path (links) to the solutions they seek. Also, you may
      have different audience segments that require different paths and thus
      you need to account for that in your web structure.


      The value of a story board simply helps you step back and assess
      your overall message and how you are presenting it to your audience.
      Its not meant to take the place of a business, brand, or marketing
      strategy. It will, however, help you visualize the type of story you
      are telling your targeted audience.
        • Re: Use a Brand Story Board?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          Using a Story Board. That brings back memories.
          In the 1970's, I was the Controller of a T V and Audio Production Company
          in New York City. We used Story boards.
          Thanks for the memories. LUCKIEST


          Storyboards are graphic organizers such as a series of illustrations or images displayed in sequence for
          the purpose of previsualizing a motion graphic or interactive media sequence, including website interactivity.
          The storyboarding process, in the form it is know today was
          developed at the Walt Disney
          studio during the early 1930s,

            • Re: Use a Brand Story Board?
              primalnet Newbie

              Thanks for posting additional information about storyboards. I for one, however, would have appreciated at least a link, and, appropriately, proper credit to the source of that information (which I believe would be in keeping with our Community Guidelines) so I could find more details and maybe validate the source and quality of the facts presented. Also, this posting could be even more useful to other readers if some consideration might be given to taking a moment extra to fix the how this copied text formats in the window after pasting it (odd line breaks appear in what was pasted exactly as they are on the Wikipedia page it was copied from, and the last part of the sentence that follows the comma after "1930s," is missing. This missing text reads: +"... after several years of similar processes being in use at Walk Disney and other animation studios."+).

              For other readers, additional details on storyboards is available through this link to the full Wikipedia article Luckiest seems to be quoting (though this could be coincidental):

              Sometimes readers would like to get more than just a "teaser" snippet of information, though I would think most people feel it's okay to post only part of the story (which may be sufficient for many), but why not also consider including a link to the original story so others have the opportunity to read the entire article on the storyboard? I know I would have appreciated at least a complete sentence so I didn't have to go out and search for that myself.

              Just a friendly suggestion in the spirit of improving the quality of information available in this forum.
            • Re: Use a Brand Story Board?
              primalnet Newbie

              Storyboards are an excellent tool to use in creating a structured and ordered flow of information with a clear "beginning," "middle," and "end" as you explain, whether for communicating a focused marketing message such as a television commercial or delivering the plot line of a story (as sometimes used in feature film production). However, in my opinion, creating a storyboard when discussing such a "global" topic as a company "brand" is a bit like "putting the cart before the horse."

              A storyboard can be an effective aid when developing one of perhaps many "tactics" (such as a television commercial, YouTube video, or perhaps in some manner as you suggest, as a Web site "navigation chart"), where these tactics would be utilized to help execute and support an overall marketing "strategy" to drive sales. Unfortunately, I'm not able to see how using a storyboard would be an efficient or effective tool to discuss your friend's overall company "brand" as you have stated the situation.

              To me, it seems you are using storyboards to show abstract intellectual concepts (like that of brand perception) in a more tangible manner by illustrating them on a storyboard, which is probably good whenever abstract concepts can be made more tangible, but it seems to me using your technique adds in an additional element of abstraction (your ability to accurately illustrate the perception by the target market of your friend's brand in the first place on a storyboard, then a potential additional abstraction doing the same for his competition). I'd say an easier way would be to compare actual sample ads (Web sites, print, video, audio, whatever) that your friend's company and his competitors have produced, side-by-side, then examine your perceptions of "brand."

              I would want to make things as clear as possible when dealing with an abstract concept such as "brand," and eliminate as much as possible any room for "differences in individual perceptions" that may be introduced through your "interpretations" of brands by illustration. I would think your friend would need to be highly sophisticated in conceptualizing abstract branding concepts, and further to be even more sophisticated in understanding how you are using a linear, time-based graphical device to depict abstract psychological concepts. I would not advise others try this sort of technique except in very unique circumstances (which you may actually be describing though that's not clear from what you've written).

              For example, if I were to comment on a particular company brand in the manner you suggest (really, an advertising comparison), I would want your friend to look at the overall "image" of his brand (or product, or company) in the mind of the target audience (in a very broad sense, what the brand "means" to those who exchange their money for his products). Then, I would compare and contrast your friend's company's brand image with competing brands or alternatives. This could most accurately and easily be accomplished through a direct comparison of advertising materials and other promotional efforts, directly, from your friend's company and the competition, side-by-side.

              I would then go an important step further and compare all this to your friend's company's strategic plan to try to determine if the brand image established with the key target customer matches the company strategy. Doing such a brand analysis with a storyboard seems highly unorthodox and of little practical value to that end. If you mean that you are actually doing a super "quick-and-dirty" competitive advertising analysis by illustrating actual samples of your friend's and his competition's advertising efforts on storyboards, primarily because you don't have samples of these materials handy, then maybe it would have some value in a very broad sense if it started a productive dialog leading to some serious brand analysis, but it's not something I'd want my friend to bet his successful $2.1M business on.

              More appropriate I believe are techniques that can very easily be done, say, on a paper napkin at lunch and be, in my opinion, significantly more effective as a quick-and-dirty brand overview. One "paper-based" technique I have used to help define a "brand" for a company is to map out brand positions on a what might be called a "perceptual space map," where you plot the relative position brands lie in regards to the target customer's perception key product attributes. Say for example, that your friend's company has as it's key strategic initiative to establish a brand image in the mind of a specific target market segment that its product is a "high-value" product, with "high-value" defined as "very high-quality and easy to use." To plot this on a "perceptual space map" you could draw two axes, say with the vertical line (x-axis) representing ease of use (difficult at the bottom of the axis, easy at the top), and the horizontal line (y-axis) representing quality (low quality to the left, high quality to the right), with these lines intersecting at their mid-points (forming a cross or large "plus" sign).

              Then you and your friend could examine the perception of your friend's product and mark on the vertical line how easy the product is perceived to be to use, then mark on the horizontal line the perception of its quality. The point representing the intersection of those two plotted points represents the perceived "value" of your friend's product.

              If the intersection of the two points falls in the upper right quadrant of the plot, the product would be deemed as both easy to use and of high quality, and thus a perception of "high value" to the target market. If the point of intersection falls in any of the other three quadrants, it would not meet the stated company strategic objective which would be the case when:

              1. in the upper-left quadrant where the product is perceived to be easy to use, but of low quality (fix this by improving quality);
              2. in the lower-left quadrant where the product is perceived to be both of low quality and difficult to use (fix this by improving quality and ease of use);
              3. in the lower-right quadrant where the product is perceived to be of high quality but its difficult to use (fix this by making it easier to use).

              An extremely simple, convenient, and effective technique.

              Many others "paper" techniques can be used to do a similar crude "brand analysis," but I'm not sure how useful information regarding "brand" could be achieved through using a storyboard in the traditional sense of how a storyboard is used.

              If you are using the word "brand" more as a "verb" to refer to a particular technique (tactic) to create a desired perception of an existing brand through some form of communication that changes over time, then I can certainly understand how a storyboard would be most useful as a simple shortcut method to explain how that tactic might be executed. However, my understanding of the word "brand" is more as a descriptive term ("noun") that would better be explained using other more appropriate techniques.

              So, I guess I need to ask the question directly: are you using the word "brand" as a verb? If so, suggesting to illustrate the "branding action" implied by the verb "brand," in a sequential linear form, that changes over time, as represented in each subsequent frame of the storyboard may make sense, otherwise, it seems makes little sense to do so (unless you have some storyboarding technique I'm not aware of, and I've seen many).

              In any event, I agree that taking a thoughtful look at the image your company communicates to the marketplace is important, and I agree that adopting the viewpoint of the customer is critically important (my buzz-phrase has always been "think like a customer"), so anything that leads to that end will probably be of some benefit, but not all analysis techniques are created equal, and your own mileage may vary (significantly!).
                • Re: Use a Brand Story Board?
                  iMicrobrand Adventurer
                  Interesting and Detailed Post primalnet -

                  Perhaps you can give me a quick insight... My practice is more in the area of Microbranding which brings in many variables not only because of the dynamics of the Microbrand - it's purpose, strategy and position, but because of it's definition (still being developed and researched by the brand community). I find myself helping clients define and develop their Microbrand through the use of a Mind Map. I do this because my research is prevailing that the Microbrand is highly dependent on the organizations or individuals intellectual collateral, it's organization and ultimately it's delivery, which then in turn builds perception and adoption model.

                  In your opinion - is the Mind Map optimized enough to truly forward the Microbrand or should I be exploring another means of discovery, organization and management? I have had great success so far - BUT I am always open to looking at traditional Brand practices (that I may not be in-tune with) to further expand on my practice with clients...

                  Thanks In Advance!

                  Vincent A. Hunt