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Part 2 of 6: The Spiritual Kickoff

Why are you here? Existential questions are our stock-in-trade for the so-called Spiritual Kickoff, the second step of engagement with BS LLC on any project. In the end, trust us: you’ll be glad you (were) asked.

At this point in a project, we’ve already signed two documents that define our relationship and the project’s scope (contract and project charter), so why are we now going into areas that may sound like a psychologist created them? 

The answer isn’t as mushy as you’d think. 

Our goal as a branding agency is to define (or sometimes, redefine) your brand and your brand’s promise. We must blaze a pathway towards the effective communication of a straightforward and compelling offering to an identified audience—wrapped in an aesthetically appealing (preferably timeless) package. To do that, we need to make sure that we’re all talking the same language.

When your team meets our team, there will be a wide array of skills and backgrounds, and the kinds of deliverables we’re going to build together are often difficult to describe succinctly with language. Getting diverse personalities to agree on challenging subjects is, well, challenging. 

For example: “please describe why your logo looks like it does using business-oriented language.” 

*Cue blank stares*

The flip is, if we’ve already found a common language around what our audience finds trustworthy, we can more easily describe how our logo represents our trustworthiness. Make sense?

Therefore, we have to start by talking generally — and then bring it down to our project specifics over time. 

The Method Behind the Sanity

We present the fabled “Big Questions” of our BS LLC Spiritual Kickoff. Did we make these questions up? Absolutely not. In fact, we probably lifted them from a mentor or a former job or a design book. Good artists borrow, great artists steal. Here are the Q’s: 

Why do we exist?

No, you don’t get to say “to make money” or “to increase value for our shareholders.” Because we’re going to follow up and ask you, “Why is it important to you as a company to make money the way you do?” This is all about discovering your purpose as a company or brand. It can be surprising when you learn that your peers have other reasons than you do. 

What do we hope to become?

What’s the goal for this assignment? This is tightly aligned with the previous question but different. The last question asks: Why do you want to grow up?

What makes our team passionate about their work?

If your team isn’t passionate about its work, this question will be tricky. In that case, the right question is, “There is no passion,” and we can explore that one as it comes. However, assuming there is genuine motivation, we want to learn if there is an overarching tone or flavor to it that pervades your company or brand. This question is designed to get you talking about your culture.

What makes our customers excited about our product?

Every company that makes enough revenue to keep the lights on and pay its employees has “anchor customers.” You know the ones; they are the customers that help you understand what you do well. Why are those customers enthusiastic about what you do?

What are the big ideas that drive our company?

Motivation gives rise to action. To take action, you need ideas. Tell us about these ideas. With this question, we pivot from the general to the specific. Do you have proprietary tech, unique processes, a worldview, a POV?

What makes us different?

The features and characteristics of your product may be your differentiating factor. Your brand’s purpose may define your uniqueness. Or, you may realize that your product is “parity” and undifferentiated. We’ll discuss how hard to push on topics like “innovation” and “disruption.” Competitors: who are they and why are they worse or better than you at what you do? 

What do we need to be successful?

You can answer this question from a couple of perspectives: “We aren’t as successful as we’d like to be, so we need the following.” Or, “We’re doing great things, and to keep doing great things, here’s what we need.”

What's holding us back?

This is another “centering” question. Here we are on a Zoom call, determining who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish. What exactly stands in the way of these goals?

Where we land

Knowledgeable, inspired, and unified. We’ve heard from our peers and defined the undefinable one hundred twenty minutes later. What’s next? We explore yet another broad question to anchor us in reality: “What could possibly go wrong with this project?”

Next up, Part 3: The Risk Register

About the Author:Sam Lowe conducts research to help build full-featured road maps and strategies for BS LLC clients ranging from hospitality to healthcare and manufacturing to high tech. He’s also delightfully addicted to 2-wheeled vehicles, classical music, and fine teas.