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January 13, 2022


Clarity Is the Greatest Weapon Your Brand Has

Marketers are facing probably our toughest challenges ever. Even if we think we have designed the perfect campaign, would it matter with the way the world is right now? Can we get our products or services into the hands of our customers? Can we convince them to try our brands?

It’s not hard to see why so many of us are sounding a battle cry and reaching for anything that might give us an edge.

One thing we often overlook, though, is a simple idea. But it’s a powerful one, maybe even the best weapon we have to leverage.

It’s clarity—clarity about our brands.

What Is Brand Clarity?

Brand clarity is pretty much what it sounds like: a clear understanding of your brand.

Why an understanding and not just a “clear picture” of your brand? A picture is surface level. And, on the surface, almost any brand can look good.

But that surface-level picture doesn’t mean we actually “get” our brands. We often think we do, but we always have to ask ourselves if we understand on a deeper level.

Brand clarity is about that deeper understanding. It asks us three key questions:

  • Who are our customers?

  • What are our values, purpose

  • Why are we here?

Answering these three questions gives us a deeper understanding of what our brand is. If we know who our customers are, then we understand our audience. We can get a better idea of why they choose our brand over any other. At the very least, we can pinpoint who seems to love us, and then we can figure out why.

The why often relates to the other two clarity questions: Why are we here and what are our values?

When we answer “why are we here?”, we’re talking about purpose. What is it that our brand is here to do?  Levi’s does more than make jeans. They are the original jean. Durable, comfortable, fashionable…a brand that you can’t throw out as they have so many memories. The brand that you feel like you can live in…they can take you anywhere. Guess or Tommy Hilfiger, can’t say any of that. And how do they support it, with attributes or values like humble, empathy, originality, integrity, and courage?

Our purpose informs our values. If Levi’s is here to make jeans you want to live in, then they need to be so clear on who their customer is and their changing needs. They need to be forward-thinking on quality, fabrics, style, new technology, and an internal culture that ensures their clothes maintain that core point of difference.

What Clarity Gives Us

Think about a clear pond on a still morning. The water is smooth and calm, and it’s so crystal clear you can see right down to the bottom. If there were an iceberg in the pond, you’d be able to see how far down it goes.

That’s good for our brands because so much of them lies beneath the “surface.” I like using the tree metaphor, where the “roots” of our brand—the “why” or values—are hidden from us. Yet they’re crucial for our survival. If our roots wither, then our brands can’t get the nourishment they need. They’ll shrivel up and die.

Clarity lets us see what’s “at the bottom” of the brand—like we can see the bottom of the pond or the bottom of the iceberg.

When we can see that—the bottom of our brand iceberg, the roots of our brand tree—we can understand our brands. It’s not just a surface-level picture. It’s that deeper knowledge of the brand.

From there, it’s easy for us to make better decisions for our brands.

How Does That Help Marketing?

You might think having brand clarity isn’t important for Marketers. After all, we’re trying to come up with catchy jingles or slogans that stick in people’s heads. We can leave all that clarity stuff to the folks in the C-suite, right? The people who are making up five-year strategies and crafting vision statements need to have a deep understanding. We just have to catch people’s attention, right?

You know that’s not true—understanding the purpose of a brand or business helps everyone do their job better in every department. But it’s crucial for anyone on the marketing team.

Think about it. All of us have seen campaigns that left us scratching our heads. What were they thinking? you asked yourself. The ad or copy just felt wrong on so many levels. The character and tone made no sense. You sit there thinking, “That’s not what this company is about!”

Let’s think about Canadian Tire as an example. Canadian Tire has gone the route of kind of kitschy and quirky with their “mascot,” Gary. Gary is a bumbling every-guy with an overinflated sense of himself, but he’s kind of funny. His bumbling leads him to need to fix something—either with help from Canadian Tire or a Canadian Tire shopper.

That’s a departure from older Canadian Tire ads, which featured a different sort of “character.” Unlike Gary, though, this fellow was competent. He fixed everything himself, and he told viewers all about how he did it with the help of his Mastercraft toolsets.

So, what’s going on here? How do we get from ultra-competent to kind funny and bumbling? We can look at either of these “characters” and see the same core strategy: inspiring confidence in customers.

Somewhere along the way, the older, hyper-competent expert guy changed, perhaps as a way to enable the brand to be more engaging. Or perhaps research suggested that the expert mechanics did not believe the Mastercraft brand name was the brand an expert would recommend. Perhaps Mastercraft was seen as not the best name in tools, but a great brand for the everyday homeowner.

The shift in character instead of recommending became a Gary that inspired confidence in customers. After all, if this bumbling guy can pull it off, then there’s no way we can’t. And that’s where we see Canadian Tire customers helping Gary out when he gets himself into a pickle. Everyone can be competent with the right tools.

That’s brand clarity: Canadian Tire is not the authoritative source for home Renos or tools but a great alternative for anyone to be competent in home improvement projects.

Brand Clarity Gives Us the Truth

Looking at our Canadian Tire example, we can see that Canadian Tire wants to inspire its customers with a can-do attitude. Gary says to people, “Yeah, we’re not Home Depot with their ‘building experts’! We’re Canadian Tire—and we believe that if this guy can do it, so can you!”

When we have brand clarity, it enables us to authentically deliver a strategy that is both believable and ownable. And that means we can craft campaigns that speak to the heart of who we are and what we believe. And from there, we’re speaking to our customers. We know ourselves, and we know them, and we know why they’re here, why they buy from us.

Understanding that gives us an edge in this market. We know where we’re positioned in the market. We know where we stand. We know whom we appeal to and why. That’s maybe the biggest battle there.

It’s hard to craft a message that lands with your customers if you have no idea what you’re about. If you don’t know why you’re here or what you value, you can’t make that clear to your customers. And if you don’t understand those things, you’re going to have a hard time understanding why they buy from you.

So instead of fumbling around, guessing at purpose, or grafting on messages from other brands, let’s aim for clarity about our brands. Why are we here, and what do we value?

Understanding that will unlock our brand potential and allow us to connect with our customers in a brand new way.

Like always, then, we have to start with the why!


If your brand or business is unsure or lost sight of the "why" or "higher purpose", reach out. We are here as servant leaders to unleash the power that exists in your brand or business or category. We find what is unique, undiscovered, even raw new territories and help you build a strategy for sales success. It all starts with the why!

Thank you!

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