| 8 June, 2021

How to Run a Brand Workshop


We always tell our clients that the hardest part of a rebrand is deciding you need a rebrand. Once you’ve committed, things get pretty fun.

The Trekk brand workshop is an experience. We’ve got teachers, trainers, and pedagogy geeks on our team, which means we know that in order for a rebrand — and the paradigm shifts and behavior adjustments that come with one — to stick, everyone involved has got to assimilate the new information. And the best way to help people who have been doing things “the old way” to internalize “the new way” is to make the process interactive. That’s why every Trekk branding client experiences the brand workshop.  

The best way to help people who have been doing things “the old way” to internalize “the new way” is to make the process interactive.

We get a ton of questions about our brand workshop. How long does it take? How should I prepare? What should I wear? (Answers: Between four hours and two days, depending on the scope of the project, and we’ll work with you on scheduling. We’ll walk you through any prep work. You do you, but we advocate for comfortable shoes in pretty much every situation.)

But the most common question we get is also the most essential: what is a brand workshop, anyway? To answer that, we’re walking you through ours. Whether you’re thinking about working with us or just want to try out these exercises for yourself, here’s a sample guide to a half-day brand workshop designed for a small to medium-sized company, divided up into our pre-workshop activities, the workshop itself, and our post-workshop deliverables.


1. Figure out who your stakeholders are.

The work we do leading up to the workshop and the live session itself are both part of our discovery. For brand identity projects, the discovery stage is all about capturing the brand’s vision and voice, and we include all the client stakeholders in the effort. Our rule of thumb is that a stakeholder is anyone who will have some sort of say in the approval of the final product.

2. Conduct stakeholder interviews.

This might be done using a survey, like we did with our own rebrand. It could also happen in small focus groups. Ideally, you’ll be able to conduct one-on-one interviews with at least your key stakeholders so you can really dig into what’s working, what’s not, and what the brand means to them personally. These personal attachments will prove to be important when you try to get everyone on board with the new brand later.

3. Gather your materials.

You’ll need:

  • A workshop deck with slides to help guide participants through the activities.

  • A large whiteboard or two medium-sized whiteboards.

  • A stack of sticky notes with one personality adjective written on each in permanent marker. Try to fill up the entire stack, or about 90 sticky notes. Fill them with all sorts of adjectives that could be used to describe someone’s personality — good, bad, and neutral. For example, you might include optimistic, mischievous, and judicious.   

The Workshop

4. Name your objectives.

Include objectives for the rebrand as a whole, as well as objectives for the workshop. We also recommend a clear agenda for the workshop to set expectations and keep people focused. Don’t forget to include bathroom and snack breaks!

5. Share what you know so far.

Aggregate the results from your (anonymized) stakeholder interviews, focus groups, and/or surveys and present them for discussion. Ask those in the room for their opinions. You’ll likely hear some observations and perspectives you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

6. Warm up.

This activity is designed to prepare everyone’s brains for the work of branding. Show a slide with photos of four different celebrities. (During our own rebrand, we chose the celebrities by asking in our survey, “If Trekk were a celebrity, who would we be?” and selecting the four most popular answers.)

Break into random (or not — up to you) teams. Give each team 10 minutes to come up with ways the brand is like or unlike that celebrity.

Come back together and choose a spokesperson to present to the group. Allow each group to share and add to one another’s ideas.

7. Take it further.

Now that everyone’s thinking about the brand like a person and imagining what that person might sound like or how they might act, pull out your stack of sticky notes and divide your whiteboard into four columns: YES, NO, MAYBE, or SOMEDAY.

sticky notes
Photo by Brandi Redd.

Pass the stack of notes around the room and ask each person to pull off the top sticky and read the adjective out loud. As a group, discuss whether this adjective describes the brand and invite the person who chose it to add it to a column on the whiteboard. Explain up front that it’s okay to disagree and it’s also acceptable to move the sticky notes around as the conversation progresses.

Once you’ve gone through all the notes and divided up the adjectives, focus on the YES words. As a group, divide them into two categories: VOICE (what is the brand like? how does the brand talk?) and VISION (what does the brand believe?). Categorize the first few words yourself to demonstrate the difference.

If you have time, go back to those SOMEDAY adjectives and ask the group: what skills do they already have that could help them earn those descriptors? What markets could they tap into if they were to use those skills?

8. Wrap it up.

Drive home how the newly clarified personality, vision, and voice will play a crucial role in the development of the new brand, right down to the design elements that will be used to express the brand. Go over what’s up next on the branding timeline, and don’t forget to thank your stakeholders!


9. Follow up.

Your brand workshop participants want to be sure that their time was well spent, so make sure to keep them posted on your immediate next steps and your progress as the new brand comes together. Use your first follow-up touchpoint to reinforce the value of the workshop, to spark excitement about the new brand, and to create the sense that the group is moving in the right direction.

The deliverables from a brand workshop usually include an updated positioning statement or message map, the creation of visual concepts that ultimately result in a new brand guide, a defined content strategy and marketing communications plan, and sometimes even updated company values or an updated mission statement. Sure, you could dive into all these things without a full workshop, but we believe the workshop provides value for everyone involved: a broader, more nuanced perspective for those doing the brand identity work, and real buy-in from those who will carry the brand forward.

Header photo by Kelly Sikkema.

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