Build These 5 Things to Grow Your Business

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10 Questions to Kick Off Refining Your Brand

We use the 10 questions in this worksheet at the start of every branding project. Whether you're building, refreshing or simply refining your brand, these questions set the foundation for the process and help guide the creative to its full potential. Use this worksheet as a tool to inform your internal team, your agency or design firm partner, or to gain a deeper understanding of your brand's landscape.

Brand Worksheet Download

Build These 5 Things to Grow Your Business

If you need to attract more leads and close more sales, then you need a sales funnel. A sales funnel is another way of saying marketing plan, and it works regardless of the type or size of your business, or what you sell. This strategy will engage customers, capture their attention, and compel them to buy. Download the Marketing Checklist and get started growing your business today.

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How to Unite, Align, and Guide Your Company

How to Unite, Align, and Guide Your Company

How to Unite, Align, and Guide Your Company

Question #9 When Considering a Brand Refresh

Clarity, Clarity, Clarity

Over most of this year, we have discussed the role clarity plays in constructing and reconstructing brands. We have pointed out the importance of bringing clarity to your positioning, communication, and visuals. To finish off the year, we want to showcase the importance of clarity in a brand’s guiding principles and how defining your Vision, Mission, and Core Values can guide your company toward long-term success.

What Are Guiding Principles?

Essentially, Guiding Principles are the core ideas that unite, align, and provide direction both internally and externally. These ideas build a following within an industry, grow customer excitement about your company and its offering, recruit new employees that fit within your desired company culture, and so much more.

It’s Not Always About Selling More

When questioning individuals in leadership positions about how they make decisions, most are quick to answer, “Sales guide our decision making.” Meeting financial obligations is critical, but this year’s sales numbers do not necessarily determine the company’s brand’s health. Companies risk letting great employees go while retaining bad employees with a “sales-first” (or sales only) approach.

Without well thought out guiding principles, leadership may not see past the short-term goals and unknowingly make decisions that can erode company culture and harm its external and internal reputation long term.

Why Are Guiding Principles So Important?

These principles or ideas will permeate throughout your entire organization and have a lasting impact on your operations, marketing practices, company culture, and brand reputation. Getting these guiding principles right has more weight than most leaders think.

Although establishing new guiding principles today might not affect your company tomorrow, these decisions have a tremendous long-term impact.

How to Find and Implement Guiding Principles

We break guiding principles down into three key elements: your brand’s Vision, Mission, and Core Values.

Where Are You Going and How Do You Get There?

Loosely using Jim Collins’ example from the book Good to Great, we can explain each of these principles with a bus analogy:

  • Your company is the bus
  • Your Vision is where the bus wants to go
  • Your Mission is the direction the bus is heading to get to that destination
  • Your core values ensure that the people on the bus are the right people to get you pointed in the correct direction.

A definition, a short explanation, and the #1 question we ask for each of those three elements.

1 – Vision: your brand’s purpose.
Best found with the question “Why does your organization exist?” Your Vision should be forward-thinking, aspirational, and not easily achieved. The best vision statements are just one sentence long and are memorable, meaningful, and motivating. Let’s use a real-world example from a brand most people are familiar with: Visa.

Visa’s Vision: To create the best way to pay and be paid for everyone everywhere.

2 – Mission: your actions that will help accomplish your Vision.
Best explained with the question: “What are you doing today to achieve your company’s Vision?” Your Mission should be brief and guide everyday decisions. The best Mission Statements include something that people want. We’ll use Visa as an example again.

Visa’s Mission: To enable consumers, businesses, banks, and governments to use digital currency.

3 – Core Values: the key characteristics that people need to have to perform your Mission well.
Best explained with the question: “How should an employee carry themselves to best work towards our mission and, in turn, our vision?” You do not discover your company’s core values – instead, they already exist. In other words, you do NOT create what you THINK the organization should have but doesn’t.

While no two companies’ core values are the same, core values do not differentiate us – they inspire and guide us. The key is to describe the core values which are meaningful to you and your company. To do this, we need to be careful not to land on words that should be a given, standard and expected. For example, “honesty” and “integrity” are the minimum standards that I’d expect from my financial institution.

Instead, push your company to ask more from employees, and, in turn, you will find better employees that fit your exact expectations.

Break Through to Stand Out

Has your company hit a ceiling recently? Is it challenging to find the right employees? Do you struggle to get people excited about your company?

You may have already achieved your company’s Vision, gotten off track with a poorly aligned mission, or have the wrong people – or the right people but in the wrong seats – to help you break through to the next level. Assessing and clarifying your guiding principles is critical.

If you would like to talk about the impact the right Vision, Mission, and Core Values can have on your business, contact me at or 612-339-2886.

Here’s to improving your business!
Derek Sussner
Executive Creative Director, StoryBrand Certified Guide

P.S. If you would like a copy of the Sussner Brand Worksheet, download all 10 questions here for free:



The Road Less Stupid
If you want to grow your business and are looking for a good read that provides insight on why your ideal customers are not currently buying from you, I’d highly recommend Keith Cunningham’s book The Road Less Stupid: Advice from the Chairman of the Board. One more quote from the book: “Ordinary things consistently done produce extraordinary results.”

Entrepreneurial Operating System
If you are stuck on how to structure a business plan, EOS is a powerful operating system with tools that will help you. Check out or read the book Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman. If you are looking for a referral to an EOS Implementor, I know several in the Twin Cities and would be happy to make a connection.

If your business is getting lost in the crowd or unsure of how to build a marketing plan, then I can help. As a StoryBrand Certified Guide, my team and I leverage the StoryBrand tools to create clear messaging that helps you stand out and a sales funnel that engages customers and generates leads.