The One, The Only…The STORY

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Getting Beyond “Great” – Introduction to the Methodology

How do you ensure your brand can shoot the rapids of your competitors’ promotions? Seize and hold share? Exceed demanded multiples? Is there a better way than hurling a flash of expensive promotion out there and hoping something catches your targets’ imaginations: And hoping they buy in…and stay? What is the best way to establish messages that resonate across stakeholder audiences? To inform Public Relations? To keep executives on point?

Any brand in any market can jump up and down and holler “This is the Best!”, “We’re the Greatest!”. “Look at this!” You can hire agencies to deliver the most beautiful, wild, or weird promotions. To use crazy creatures, desert racing scenes, and glamourous women and men. You can stage lavish events and free trials online and on the street.

But anchored by what? You can send an army of salespeople out there. But armed with what?

When you, the brand’s steward, own the key points to clearly establish: This is the only product, person, or program out there like this. The only one with the attributes your customers need. When your messaging can prove: This one is uniquely developed to benefit your customers. Then you will have the edge.

With that clear Core Story in hand, you can build credible, definitive statements on the value of your brand almost effortlessly. Then the objective for each promotion is to consistently deliver that messaging in vibrant, absorbing ways.

“The only…” Is often said. Not often authenticated.

The goal of Go-to-Market Positioning Strategy is to get beyond boasting, to Why this is “The Only” brand to Join. To those key points that clearly establish why this offering is unique. The only one that delivers this composition of attributes and benefits. And, to get there authentically and accurately.

Ordered, accurate points of differentiation drive engagement, conversion, and sustainable growth. The points connect customers, partners, and investors alike—in the most efficient way—to what they need to see, hear, and learn.

Your target audiences, including employees, are smart. They are marketing savvy. They have seasoned media filters. Authentic communication will engage them. Accuracy will resonate. Together they accelerate uptake. Together they help you avoid spending on off-center promotion—and from hours spent confusing stakeholders with jumbled claims.

The means to state clearly and vibrantly what makes your brand Unique
—and Valuable.

The most successful approaches to building a concise Brand Strategy provide you with the means to that keen-edged Core Story. To conclusively differentiate your offering in your target market.

THE MISSION of this Brand Identity TurbineTM Series is to present a clear, effective, end-to-end approach to developing Brand Positioning and Identity Strategies that will engage and inspire stakeholder audiences. And Vibrant Integrated Marketing communications that capture the imagination, drive uptake and encourage loyalty.

“Turbine” ? Corny–but an apropos metaphor. The diagram presents the means to drive brand value and growth. If you create distinct and aligned Positioning, Identity, and Creative Strategies, you will have built the heart of the machine, the “fast-moving flow”, the energy you need to deliver continuous power to your promotions.1 Ultimately you get the velocity from the “vanes”, your promotional programs, to carry the brand to greater growth.

The 3 Phases of this curriculum:

  • I – Brand Opportunity AssessmentTM – BOA
  • II – Clear Differentiation—Positioning to Creative Strategy
  • III – Integrating MarCom Programming –IMC

Methodology – Why all this Process?

“Hey! This looks like a lot of work! All this time spent proceeding through these exercises!
What’s the Pay-Off? Seems like we could get there faster with some great ideas.”

Unlike Henry Ford, Muhamad Ali, Martha Stewart, or Madonna; Frederick W. Smith’s FedEx, Jobs’ 21st Century Apple or Sara Blakely’s Spanx; Joy Mangano, Melanie Perkins, Oprah Winfrey, or Guy Fieri – few of us can shine our own guiding light, create a uniquely valuable brand and power through to present what matters most to stakeholders.

One can argue these unique individuals, and many more, had full-blown visions of what their brand could be. Their broad opportunity. A deep-seated vision to fuel their determination and guide decisions as they did “shoot the rapids” of their individual markets.

We know these exciting success stories. We want to live them. We don’t know the stories of the hundreds of thousands who have mismanaged their visions and opportunities. For most of us the best decision is to channel our enthusiasm into analysis—and our findings into developing great content. We need to ensure the Vision in our keeping becomes reality.

Success in every market requires being able to get outside your product offering—or yourself—and to be able to see the offering from out there, from the target’s vantage point. To do that we need the support of an exacting process.

TIME – When compared to extra years of striving and spending, a few months of discovery and development is a convenient, contained, and critical investment. The speed with which we can achieve our goals for the offering is what matters. Energy can fade and markets shift. Competitors learn very fast. So why risk the big bucks on guesswork?

PRODUCTIVITY – With the reasons to believe clearly articulated for them: Leaders can work together more efficiently. Investors can feel more confident. Employees can understand the mission. Sales have a song with valuable lyrics. Communicators have a foundation to build upon. All together you gain efficiency, engagement, and energy. Good, because your stakeholders do not share a founder’s passion for Promethean efforts.

FORESIGHT – This methodology contains a compendium of exercises you can adopt and implement. Every component has been carefully deployed and improved upon over time. Then articulated for clarity and usefulness. The exercises are orchestrated to help you envision what is going to take place out there. To be ahead of the moment with insight-driven initiatives. To reach your goal. To prove your offering is The Only One, Purpose-built, and thus the one to join.


There are many different graphic models meant to show a process for building “Brand Strategy.” Almost every firm practicing “Branding” is eager to present its methods in a graphic. Some of these models have true elements but are incomplete. Some only address parts of a methodology. Some use vague terminology.

As a student of branding, I wanted to see more instructional models and more sustainable use of the terms being deployed by various firms. I wanted to see the whole end-to-end process. That lead to me drawing my own models.

I’ve trained both teams and individuals and led many programs with the models you will find here. The models encourage understanding. enthusiasm and partnership. I believe they will accelerate your training and guide your work. 

The “Brand Identity TurbineTM” presented above will help to guide this curriculum. The “Turbine” is a graphic translation of my approach to branding as I’ve developed it over 25 years.2 This model has been developed to teach with. It is meant to be accurate, not “different”. It is sometimes complex, but hopefully never obscure. One of the most interesting things is how one comes to think along the lines of this methodology. Beyond the Turbine, you will see other models related to specific discovery and planning exercises, and to the landscape of brand communications documents.


Phase I – Finding the Foundation— Brand Opportunity AssessmentTM – “BOA”

       This work comprises the First Third of the Brand Identity TurbineTM Series

Intent of BOA: To clearly establish the key elements of the Brands’ Core Story.

Principal Outcomes. The “deliverables” are best known as Key Value Propositions, or KVP’s. These are the points that clearly state what makes the brand unique and valuable to stakeholders; the most important elements of the Story you are setting out to tell. The KVP’s can be ordered to ensure your narration of the Story contains the spark, clarity, flow, and impact you need to engage and inspire. The KVP’s are the bridge to Phase II.

BOA process is designed to help you to see the whole picture—and all the relevant dynamics—of the brand’s opportunity to differentiate itself in the marketplace. To accomplish that we begin 360º of marketplace exploration and analysis necessary to establish the KVP’s.

Go-to-Market Applications:

  • The BOA process (like the Turbine) can be applied to an organization, product, service, or individual.
  • For individuals—executives, candidates for public office, performance artists, broadcasters, authors, online personalities, etc.—the process can be the same. It will address:
    • Their Vision for their Offering, Objectives, Competitive Framework, Assets, Audiences and KVP’s.
      – At work, on the campaign trail, and across social media. It’s the same challenge.
      – They can be chosen—or joined—or not.
    • What makes them different and valuable? How to communicate that?
  • The best foundation for relaunching a brand can also come from Brand Opportunity AnalysisTM.

The Principal Exercises of Brand Opportunity AssessmentTM.

Copyright Evoke Communications 2023

This regimented approach will bring you a multitude of insights into your brand’s opportunity and inform all your thinking and planning going forward.

Your “Sleuthing” begins here.

THE SEARCH IS FUN. Let it be. The truths you discover will make you wise and prepare you to win others over.

In the film Knives Out, Daniel Craig, as Benoit Blanc, says when discussing the book, Gravity’s Rainbow:

“… I like the title. It describes the path of a projectile, determined by natural law. Voila, my method.
I observe the facts without biases of the head or heart, I determine the arc’s path, stroll leisurely to its terminus,
and the truth falls at my feet.” 3

Obviously, this methodology does not provide for a lot of leisurely strolling. But you can have confidence in your discoveries. You will have many Aha moments as the “arc” appears. The truths you seek will come alive for you.

Your perception of what is important will evolve. You will assemble truths about how best to take your brand to market. Your “cross-examinations” will illuminate the points that make your brand unique–and the points that do not.

As you proceed through BOA exercises you will gain:

  • Insights and a new understanding of your foreseen audiences’ mindsets, behavior, and investments.
    • What stakeholders really want and/or need—from their point of view.
    • How they seek, evaluate, and buy.
    • How best to connect with them; where and when.
    • What your employees need to know to best support the mission.
  • Insights and a new understanding of your foreseen competitors’ mindsets, behavior, and investments.
    • How they perceive this moment and their opportunities in their perceived target market.
    • How they are attempting to differentiate and sell their offerings.
    • What assets they actually have.
    • Where they are directing their promotional spending. And what their creative work looks like.

And more…

You will see clearly how to circumnavigate competitors.

You could skip steps in the BOA process, but the fewer you skip the more accurate, credible, and engaging your Story. Each exercise brings insights and adjusts your thinking. You will revisit the importance of some of your Brand’s Assets.

The process can reinform what you take to market, the Competitive Framework—and even to whom you sell.

Every step of the way the BOA exercises will deliver insights on how to succeed. You will develop an assuredness of the destination and overarching strategy for getting there. You will be able to investigate possibilities for a “Category Play.”4 Elements of a strong brand identity and basic creative concepts will emerge. You will begin to see how to “weaponize” your brand. 5

You will get to market successfully—faster–by discovering all the elements of the Core Story, and then maximizing communications to tell that Story.

  • turbine – Oxford – noun – A machine for producing continuous power in which a wheel or rotor, typically fitted with vanes, is made to revolve by a fast-moving flow of water, steam, gas, air, or other fluid.
  • My first brand strategy drawings date back to the late 1990s.
  • Ian Johnson’s Script for the film “KNIVES OUT”.
  • If you can effectively argue that no offering like yours has ever been taken to market—then you are in a position to make a Category Play by promoting it as a unique new category in the marketplace. Examples: iPod.
  • Certain “edges” of a strong brand identity can more easily “cut through the clutter”, and penetrate perception to best do battle with the competition.

Copyright Langston IP-Evoke Communications LLC 2023

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