r12 - 10 Oct 2006 - 15:47:33 - PieterHartsookYou are here: OSAF >  Projects Web  >  CommunityHome > BrandingExercise > BrandingCurrentStatus > BrandFocusSummary

Brand Focus Summary


Strong, enduring brands evolve from what is fundamentally authentic and differentiating about their products and the company that makes them. When companies take the view that "brand" is the expression of these fundamental truths about the company, good things happen. --M. Brandt & G. Johnson, PowerBranding
Brand Focus Goal: The goal is to select the focus for the brand. (This was the goal for the Brand Focus Meeting of the Branding Committee on 9/19/2006) The brand focus will be the consistent ongoing message repeated in almost all communications. For example the "elevator pitch" statement or positioning statement in addition to identifying the target market and defining the product, should include the top 1 or 2 brand association we want establish.


  • The Branding Committee met on 9/19/2006 to review the brand association research and to evaluate possible brand focus directions.
  • The 275 association responses in the brand interviews, were rolled up into 23 "values" which were then grouped into brand focus themes.
  • The Branding Committee selected two brand focus themes as candidates for our brand focus.

Decision Needed

  • The Ops Group is asked to consider the two alternative brand focus directions, and with recommendations from the Branding Committee make a decision; Which will be the enduring brand focus for our solution upon which all future marketing communications will be based, including brand name(s), logo, position statements, marketing collateral, marketing campaigns, etc?
  • The candidates are:

Brand Focus Theme 1

Focus Value associations
I use this because of
how I feel about the product and the
people and organization that created it.
And why I feel good about using it...
not constraining
(in a position to be) successful
(strive for) excellence

Brand Focus Theme 2

Focus Value associations
What using the solution enables me to be... efficient
in control
make better decisions
more effective
more successful
have more time
optimize disparate needs

Decision Process

In order to help understand the implications of choosing one particular brand focus rather than an alternative, we will have a short 3-minute exercise.

"Position as Derivative of Brand Focus" exercise

A position statement is one or two-sentences that clearly and succinctly explain how our product is different from our competitors'. It is customer- and benefit-oriented. It ensures delivery of a consistent product message and the best product message. It should have differention, relevance, and longevity.

The purpose of this exercise to to help us understand the impact of the brand focus upon all subsequent marketing communications and thus inform the decision making process. It is NOT intended to produce well-crafted position statements.


Create a statement with the three parts of a position: superlative, category, and qualifiers based upon the benefit from one of the brand focus perspectives. The three things to include in your statement are:

  1. We’re unique/best at something that will make people want to use our solution – what is it that differentiates us? - It is our Brand Focus...
  2. What is the label or category of the product? What business are we in?
  3. Get specific about who we want to reach. Describe our market segment by budget, platform, geography, specific feature need, etc.
  • Exercise examples
    • examples can be read aloud at the meeting

Some previous sample position statements:

(don't peek until after you've written your statement)

Consider Focus 1 and Focus 2 -- Pros and Cons and Implications

Without getting caught up in the details, but being informed by the position/benefit statement exercise, discuss and evaluate Pros and Cons of each focus.

Theme 1

I use this because of
how I feel about the product and the
people and organization that created it.
And why I feel good about using it...


  • top values are
    • prosocial
    • adaptable
    • smart
  • this focus is a more inclusive message, addresses both users and developers
  • this focus embodies who we are, that we are willing to take risks, and be more innovative (not conservative, risk adverse, bottom-line oriented)
  • a stand for pro-social is a terrific position
  • BIG differentiator from proprietary solutions
  • we already have credibility even before we ship: promotion of open standards, contribution to other open source projects, inherited values from founder
  • these values are in our DNA -- founder, organization, employees, volunteers, product design, development process, product, and social benefit to users
  • focus can be expressed concretely, we get to define and own how pro-social is used in the high-tech software/web services market
  • collaboration is a prosocial activity, helping groups work better is a better investment than making individuals work better
  • ---


  • "swish factor", feel good focus will need a solid product foundation to balance
  • visionary & innovative claims are hard to live up to
  • ---

Theme 2

What using the solution enables me to be...


  • future viable solution: better options, better tools
  • What's In It for Me, perspective is important
  • what the solution is going to do for "the rest of us"
  • focus on function helps defines market
  • ---


  • based more around product (transient, has to wait until product catches up with promise, limited funtion/use cases in early versions)
  • functional focus makes it harder to differentiate in a brief statement
  • does not resonate, "snooze" not passionate
  • ---

Make decision on brand focus

  • After reviewing the Pros and Cons, consensus from the Operations Team was that Theme 1:
    I use this because of how I feel about the product and the people and organization that created it. And why I feel good about using it... was the best choice.

Follow-up actions/decisions

Task/Deliverable Resources Target date
roll out and test brand focus to staff and the community Pieter Oct. 2006
review of next steps at BrandingCommittee20061010 meeting Oct. 10, 2006
Creative work
Position statement(s) in-house, Pieter Oct. 2006
Product/solution/UI element name(s) staff + outsource? Jan. 2006
brand logo(s) outsource? Jan. 2006
brand look-and-feel style guide staff, Pieter Feb. 2006
Decision on using outsource resources for creative work. Ops Group? (informed by Branding Committee recommendation?) Oct. 2006
Brand Strategy Marketing Plan for executing on consistent cohesive brand messaging. Pieter Nov. 2006
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