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77 – Brand Discovery – How to Find Yours

Brand Archetypes
Brand Archetypes
77 - Brand Discovery - How to Find Yours

We’re BAAAAACK! It’s a little late for a “happy new year” but this is our first time recording in a while. 

Today, we’re talking about the process of selecting an archetype for your organization.  We refer to this process as “brand discovery.”

Now, in years past, before we really refined this into the brainstorming/discovery session we perform today for all of our clients, we still went through similar steps and the end result was the same – having the client pick an archetype – but it was clumsier and it took a lot longer than it does today.  

A typical session with one of our clients now takes about 90 minutes.  We can do it in person or virtually. 

Before we get into this too much further, let me point out to the listeners that, sadly, we’re not going to go into super deep detail about our own process.  That would be giving away the “secret sauce.”  We will, however, give you enough direction that with a little creativity and stick-to-it-ness, any group should be able to get themselves to the point where they’re able to make a selection.

Each of our discovery sessions is broken up into four distinct areas.

  1. Identify AttributesThis is digging deep into the nature of your organization.
  2. CategorizationTaking the attributes identified in step one and categorizing them.
  3. DistillationThis is where we take our big lists and refine each down to a single idea.
  4. SelectionThis is the hardest part.  It’s where we evaluate all of the data from this session – combined with the results of the questionnaire – and make a selection of which archetype will best suit us.

Identifying Attributes

There is a number of ways that an organization could identify its attributes.:

    • Polls of employees, polls of clients, brainstorming sessions during a company-wide meeting, tasking the effort to a brand committee, etc.
    • You might be wondering “why attributes”?  
    • Review the “single entity” idea.

A little more clarity – So, pick any two random people on the planet and compare their attributes.  You’ll find, not too surprisingly, that these two people are truly unique in all the world.  Not a single one of the other 7.5 billion people on the planet is identical in every way.

The lesson here is that all companies are just as unique from each other as any two people are different from each other. The goal is to take a DEEP dive into the exploration process and to identify ALL of the organization’s attributes, characteristics, pros/cons, values, faults, superpowers, etc. For example, most businesses will say they are “professional” – that’s easy. But what about “cutting-edge” or “captivating” or “powerful”. I think you can see where we are going with this.

At the end of this session, your group should feel like they have explored ideas that have never been considered before.  They should feel like deep, insightful, and meaningful details have been uncovered.  The reason almost all groups feel this way is because very few companies have ever gone through this kind of exercise.

Now we use a brainstorming session to get to this point and, while writing on a big whiteboard, we will usually end up with between 75 and 150 attributes.


What I want you to do is spend the next couple of seconds thinking about someone who you’re super close to, a spouse, parent, child, best friend.  Got it?  Ok,  when you pick that person, you immediately get a picture of them in your head, right?  And you may have thought about interaction with them. You might have thought about any number of things …. But what you probably DIDN’T do was to start listing and thinking about that person as a list of attributes. Am I right?  Why?  Because we don’t think about people this way.  We tend to think of ourselves as a single entity with a name.  We sum up all those parts into one idea.

So, if I were to start listing attributes for Kevin, I might jot down: quirky, funny, unique, happy-go-lucky, bubbly. I also might list passionate, intense, energetic, etc.  So, by “categorization”, what we intend to do is to take our full list of attributes and start lumping them together like this into logical groups.  The attributes in the first list obviously belong together (funny, bubbly, quirky), AND the attributes in the second list go together (passionate, intense).

After performing this many, many hundreds of times, we have found that groups will break up their big list into 3-4 groups.  We’ve never seen a group with only 2 groups, AND we’ve found it’s muddying/confusing if the group adds a 5th category

Your goal with this step;  End up with 3-4 groups of words where each has a distinct “feel” to it as you read through it.


This is where we take each list and try to distill all of the ideas and nuances into “the most important” idea. So, again, let’s use the first list Amy made for Kevin as an example;  (quirky, funny, unique, happy-go-lucky, bubbly)  Now, this list might have as many as 20-40 other words and phrases that are similar to these.

Here are some considerations:

      • You could pick one of the words/phrases off of the list.  For example, I might say the word “quirky” is the best way to describe the list
      • Know that you can’t capture every idea and nuance.  That would be impossible.  
      • What you’re trying to do is capture the biggest, most important idea that is embodied by the list.

The goal for this step is to end up with 3-4 big ideas.


This is where you now pull out your printout of the results of the questionnaire. Our questionnaire system will list the archetypes in order based on each person’s answers.  It will also tabulate and list the 12 archetypes in order based on the entire group’s results.

This is helpful for a few reasons:

      • You can see commonalities between group members
      • You’ll identify outliers … those that aren’t necessarily on the same page
      • You’ll be able to see and discuss individual differences

Although your goal is to select a single archetype (making adoption much easier), you may find yourself in a situation where you want to incorporate two archetypes into your new brand strategy.  In this special case, we recommend that you go back and listen to Episode 22 – Picking an Archetype to review the several ideas and processes to merge two of them together.  This definitely takes a lot of extra thought and consideration, but it is doable.
So that was a whirlwind review of the discovery process but I hope it’s helpful in giving the guidance you’ll need to take these crucial first steps.

We have so much fun these brand discovery sessions and every time the client comes away with a much clearer picture of their brand and their message. If you have never thought about your brand on this deep level – we highly encourage you to give it a try. We guarantee you will learn something. It is a great team-building exercise and a great way to make sure everyone is thinking about your brand in the same way. 

As always, the very first step in figuring out your brand is to take our FREE questionnaire. 


Get on over to and dive in.  If you have, we’ve given you a lot to think about today and enough direction to select the archetype that’s just right for your organization.  

Follow us on all the social media @BrandArchetypes 



Kevin & Amy

Kevin Skarritt and Amy Zander are the co-creators of the Brand Archetypes podcast and co-authors of the book by the same name. Explore the world of Brand Archetypes and find out how they can transform your company!

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