Tips for Maximizing the Brand Strategy Canvas

by Patrick Woods on


The Brand Strategy Canvas removes the guesswork from developing a brand strategy. Here are a handful of tips that will help your team get the most of the Canvas.

Garbage in, garbage out

Like any process, the tool itself useless without deliberate and thoughtful effort. Done casually, the canvass could be completed in as little as 5 minutes. But it’s not a race. If you want results that are true and actionable, you and your team must be willing to ask hard questions, push your assumptions, and move past the obvious.

Work alone

Startups are naturally collaborative, so the the tendency will be for everyone to work on the canvas together. That’s okay, but it’s not the whole story. In our experience, the best work is down when you work as a group to discuss big ideas and general direction, then send everyone to work on their own. After everyone has had time to work through the canvas individually, only then should the group come together to compare notes. There are a couple reasons for this.

For one, you’ll be surprised how different each team member’s canvas will be. It’s common that a team will say “We’ve got a pretty good handle on our brand. We’re all on the same page.” But after comparing canvases, it becomes clear that there’s a lot divergence in critical areas of the startup’s brand strategy.

Additionally, working alone during the exploratory stage of the creative process is simply good practice. In a group discussion, it’s impossible to achieve deep focus, think intently, and explore the facets of a particular direction. Once everyone has spent some time in solo exploration, you’ll find that the group discussion is more informed and more fruitful.

Put it all on paper

Since the notion of “brand” is abstract and esoteric, people love to talk about branding. It’s easy, even fun, to talk about big ideas. But simply discussing leaves plenty of wiggle room in your execution. Specificity is where the power lies. The canvas asks you to commit to specific choices about who you are and how you fit into the world. The simple act of writing it down forces you and your team to explore concrete examples of how those choices affect your brand.


The canvas is meant to be printed, reworked, and reprinted. Try different angles in the positioning statement, and explore how the various elements interact. Hang prior versions on the wall to gain an understanding of how your thinking has evolved and become increasingly focused.

These are just a few tips to get you started. For a 40-minute walk-thru of the Brand Strategy Canvas, checkout our workshop video.

Still need help? I’m offering free 30-minute Google Hangout office hour sessions to take questions about startup branding and messaging. No strings attached. Complete this form if that interests you.

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