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The method behind the magic

Image: Nikola Tesla circa 1899

Whenever people say that our ability to design stories with the exact voice for their brand is uncanny, or amazing, we always tell them that it’s nothing magical; but a very rational process of mining the right information from the client and using it in our creative process.

The first step of this process is the questionnaire that we share with our clients; it serves as the cornerstone of our story design process. It’s designed to extract key insights about your brand, values, and other ideas that help us capture the authentic story of your company or personal journey. So, this questionnaire is more than just a series of inquiries—it's essentially the series of dots that we will connect into an articulation framework for your business; a blueprint that enables you to make decisions, brief creatives, and communicate what’s at the heart of your business to your staff. In this blog post, we'll address the frequently asked questions surrounding our questionnaire, offering clarity on how your responses can be formulated to best inform our story design process. 


* Please note that the explanations given here are for selected questions only; we’ve chosen to give explanations to these questions because more people have needed help with them. If you’re a client who needs more explanations or wants a better understanding of a question not listed here, reach out to us. We’ll get on a call to make sure you get all the answers you need. We highly recommend listening to this video walkthrough while you attempt the questionnaire. It gives a step-by-step explanation of each question and can help you complete the questionnaire with greater accuracy.


Question 4 

In question 4, we ask about any specific needs, problems, or wants that must be taken into account in our design process; usually, the answer to this question would be a set of words, colours, or ideas that you want to steer clear of for important reasons; or a market context that you want to make special reference to. For example, a consultant who commissioned us wanted to steer clear of the word ‘design’ because it had a strong association with a set of services she did not offer and did not want to get inquiries for.

Question 5 

Question 5 is to get you to consider how the articulation framework will be used. If your primary focus is on driving creative decisions when speaking to consumers, you should emphasize how the framework will inform your marketing and promotional strategies. 

On the other hand, if your priority is to share your work culture, values, and onboard new teams or inform existing teams, focus on how the framework will serve as a foundational tool for internal communication and alignment. Then the framework will be somewhat tailored to help you integrate it into onboarding processes, employee training programs, and internal communications to foster a sense of belonging and unity among team members.

Question 6

When answering question 6, whether your business takes a group-led or individual-led approach in your business story, consider if your business is best represented by the collective efforts of a group or by an individual founder or leader who closely directs others and makes most of the key decisions. Determine which approach resonates most authentically with your way of working.

Question 7 

In question 7, we ask you to associate a fictitious age with your brand persona; and this has nothing to do with how long your business has been in operation. Here’s why. A brand’s age has to do with shaping how it’s perceived by your target market. Although hardly ever explicitly mentioned in stories, a brand’s age can be hinted at in its visual presence or vocabulary.

Consider how these age groups are generally perceived. Envisioning your brand as young can convey a sense of freshness, innovation, and forward-thinking. This youthful persona may appeal to younger demographics seeking products or services that are modern, cutting-edge, and disruptive. On the other hand, positioning your brand as middle-aged suggests a level of maturity, reliability, and experience. This persona may resonate with consumers who value stability, trustworthiness, and a track record of success. Portraying your brand as a senior evokes notions of tradition, heritage, and legacy. This venerable persona can instil confidence and trust in consumers who prioritize longevity, heritage and established credibility. Lastly, embracing an ageless persona transcends temporal boundaries and emphasizes timeless values and universal appeal. This approach resonates with consumers seeking products or services that are enduring, adaptable, and relevant across generations.

When answering the question of how old your brand considers itself to be, it's crucial to align the fictitious age with the desired perception you wish to convey to your target market. Consider the demographics, values, preferences, and aspirations of your audience, and choose an age that best reflects the identity and positioning you want for your brand. 

Question 8 

When considering the gender of your brand persona, it's important to recognize the impact this decision can have on shaping the perception of your brand and its appeal. Associating a gender with your brand persona can serve as a powerful tool for conveying specific traits, values, and characteristics that resonate with your intended audience.

For instance, envisioning your brand persona as feminine can evoke qualities such as nurturing, empathy, and creativity. This persona may appeal to consumers who prioritize emotional connections, authenticity, and inclusivity in their interactions with brands. Positioning your brand persona as masculine suggests attributes such as strength, leadership, and assertiveness. This persona may resonate with consumers who value qualities like reliability, confidence, and ambition in the brands they choose to engage with. Alternatively, embracing a non-binary persona challenges traditional gender norms and fosters a sense of fluidity, diversity, and acceptance. This persona can appeal to consumers who prioritize equality, openness, and representation in their brand interactions.

It's important to note that when considering whether a brand persona is feminine, masculine, or non-binary, we're not necessarily referring to traditional notions of male, female, or LGBTQ identities. Instead, we're associating these terms with energies, traits, and tendencies that can transcend gender boundaries and apply to individuals of all genders.

By understanding these distinctions, brands can leverage the concepts of feminine, masculine, and non-binary energies to communicate specific values, characteristics, and emotions that resonate with their target audience, regardless of their gender identity. This approach fosters a more inclusive and nuanced understanding of brand personas, allowing for greater flexibility and authenticity in brand representation.

Question 13

When answering the question about what your brand sounds like when speaking, reflect on the preferences and characteristics of your ideal target audience. Determine whether they are more responsive to communications that sound local and familiar or if they prefer a more global and cosmopolitan tone. Understanding your audience's cultural context and linguistic preferences is crucial in shaping your brand's voice. Consider your business’ origins and how important that is to your story. Evaluate whether your brand's voice should reflect the speech and language of a particular region or culture. Consider whether aligning with regional dialects, colloquialisms, and cultural nuances will enhance your brand's authenticity. Is your business rooted in a specific community or culture? 

Or does it have a more cosmopolitan and globally-minded perspective? Assess the potential impact of adopting a more universal and culturally neutral tone on your brand's global appeal.

This tone of voice must be managed consistently whether it’s in advertising campaigns, social media posts, customer service interactions, or written content. Maintaining a cohesive and unified voice across channels is a must.

Question 28

This question prompts you to think about the type of consumer with their purchasing decision-making methods. When creating stories and visual language, a brand must pay close attention to the type of consumer they are targeting because different types have unique behaviours, preferences, and motivations that shape their purchasing decisions.

For instance, the Bargain Shopper is primarily driven by discounts and deals, seeking value for their money. In brand stories and visual language, emphasizing cost savings, special offers, and price competitiveness can effectively resonate with this audience segment.

The Researcher, on the other hand, values information and seeks thorough research before making a purchase. Providing detailed product information, customer reviews, and comparisons in brand stories and visual content can help build trust and credibility with this audience.

For the Impulse Buyer, who makes spontaneous purchasing decisions, leveraging eye-catching visuals, limited-time offers, and persuasive storytelling can create a sense of urgency and drive immediate action.

The Negotiator appreciates flexibility and seeks opportunities for customization or personalized offers. Tailoring brand stories and visual language to highlight customizable options, flexible payment terms, and personalized recommendations can appeal to this audience segment.

The Loyalist values brand trust, consistency, and reliability. Reinforcing brand identity, values, and past experiences through consistent brand stories and visual elements can foster loyalty and strengthen the emotional connection with this audience.

Lastly, the consumer on a mission seeks efficiency and convenience, with a singular objective of completing the purchase quickly. Streamlining the buying process, providing clear navigation paths, and minimizing distractions in brand stories and visual language can cater to this audience's need for speed and simplicity.

Understanding the nuances of each consumer type allows us to tailor their brand stories and visual language effectively, resonating with their target audience's preferences, behaviours, and motivations. Consider this when you’re answering this question.

Question 34

This is one of the questions often elaborated by our clients; however, the point here is to be as succinct as possible, narrowing down on what exactly it is that you do. This question is to identify how to refer to your work or business. For example, ‘a clothing store’, or a ‘financial intelligence consultant’. Of course, there is room to bring in a specialized aspect of your business here; for example, an ‘abstract painting artist’. When a business identifies what it does, it helps customers understand its purpose, offer, and what to expect. This is important for brand stories and visual language; this clear identification should be reflected in messaging, visuals, and branding elements to ensure consistency and coherence.

For example, if the brand is a digital marketing agency, it should clearly convey its services, such as "digital marketing solutions," "online advertising," or "social media management”. 

This is a question that requires a somewhat short answer, which is why we encourage clients to try and explain their work as succinctly as possible, in approximately 3 words. 


* Got a question that we didn’t cover here? Don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're more than happy to schedule a call and help you complete this questionnaire. We highly recommend listening to this video walkthrough, while you attempt the questionnaire. It will save you time and help you record accurate answers that best reflect your business.


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