You're reading the second article of from the Lean Brand Methodology series. Read about the session prior here: Branding a product with the Lean Brand Methodology.

Summing up the Competition

Prior to this session, our homework was to create a competition list and personas. The meeting started with a look at the competition, a list of 40 or so. Based on a number of metrics (which I will not share), the group narrowed it down to four. Then we pinpointed commonalities of the four. 

A few examples of Commonalities

  • Opensource codebase
  • Require a server and a database
  • Aged Community
  • etc etc..

This list was followed by another list of adjectives. For each competitor we put together lists of adjectives that expressed a feeling or emotion associated with their brand/function. Examples are: Professional, clunky, social, annoying, etc. This lead into associating our competitors to a real life (or fictional) figure, like Obi-wan Kenobi, or George Bush (pure examples). Strange right?  Ultimately this is helping us understand their brand as we start to understand ours. Additionally it may reveal what our target market is drawn to, as well as give us a fun way to talk about our competitors. This naturally lead into user personas.

User Personas

Personas are imaginary stories of people in your target market. We started with six personas. Each persona was loosely based on someone we knew that was in the market for our product. We know our market well, so it was a bit easier for us. For each persona there is an area for habits, current trends, needs, what are they using now, etc.

An Example Persona Template (fictional with examples)

Crystal Mason
Freelancer (title)
San Diego (location)
23 year old Female (Age/Sex)
Technical and Design Proficient (relevant core attributes)

Real People as influences for this persona
Joe Smo from freelancers inc / David Walsh when he first started.

Highlighted Characteristics & Background
Eager to learn
Taking on small projects for people they know
Brand new, building for friends and family

A quick buck
Partly the thrill

“Can the client edit things themselves?”
“Can the client screw things up?”

Scenarios (why they might be considering our product)
A family friend starting a business asked if they could make them a website

Basic Emotional Needs

Drivers of change

Emerging Customer Expectations

Emerging Trends
Hipster / Indie Design
Riding a bike

Mindset, typical behaviors

If you have worked with personas before you will notice this one is a bit different. It truly focuses on the person as a person outside of our world, not just how we imagine them to use our product.

What do personas accomplish?

Personas will help clarify how you think about your products which can turn into how to pitch it. It helps answer a common question by those who make products: We know what we made and who we made it for, but how do we reach that person? In the next brand session we will really dig into each persona and start working them into categories to see how they fit with our product.

Read the next article of the lean brand sessions labeled The emotional side of our Personas.