The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is your brand’s lifecycle

Recently, Noetic facilitated a brand positioning workshop with a client group of 20 leaders and “next generation” leaders. We divided the group into five tables of four to answer these key brand-building questions:

  • WHO do you serve?
  • WHAT do they want or need?
  • HOW can you – above all of your competitors – satisfy that want or need?

The result: The group had five different points of view on their brand positioning.

Most brand marketers would have been uncomfortable with that result. However, we were happy to see this in the room! The differences sparked a candid and passionate conversation about the brand and the value it creates for clients. Moreover, ideas and “a-ha” moments filled the room. In the end, the group agreed on a brand positioning that connected to its vision and mission.

The story continues

A few months later, our client rang us. The brand positioning exercise sparked deep internal conversations about their business strategy – specifically, their mission and vision. At the workshop, they were committed to their existing mission and vision statements but now wanted to revisit both.

Hearing this was music to our ears because although we all landed on a strong brand positioning, we know that a brand strategy not only connects to a business strategy but also emanates from it.

Noetic Brand-Building Framework

The Noetic Brand-Building Framework

Business strategy and brand strategy are what the first two stages of the Noetic Brand-Building Framework are all about. We use the framework to help brands see where they are in their lifecycle and within their broader business context. 

Each stage of the framework has a specific purpose and a set of hard-working questions to ask about your brand. Ask the questions at any point in your brand’s lifecycle to understand where it is, where it needs to go next, and what it needs to do to get there.

1. Define Your North Star

Purpose: To clarify your “north star” by asking questions like:

  • What is our vision for the company?
  • What is our mission?
  • Do we have a strong growth strategy?

2. Identify Your Brand Distinction

Purpose: To identify your brand distinction, we ask questions like:

  • Who is our core target audience?
  • Who are our main competitors?
  • What is our unique offering (vs. that of our competition)?

3. Bring Your Brand to Life

Purpose: To bring your brand to life internally and externally by asking questions like:

  • How do we educate, inspire and empower our internal teams to grow themselves and our business?
  • How do we prioritize messages and media spend?
  • What campaign metrics should we track?

4. Improve Your Brand Performance

Purpose: To improve your brand’s performance by asking questions like:

  • What are the right benchmarks for us to track against?
  • How will we adjust to optimize our brand?
  • How do we optimize our culture for growth?

A strong brand marketer embraces two things about the Noetic Brand-Building Framework.

  1. The Noetic Brand-Building Framework is cyclical. Your brand is a living, breathing entity that needs to be cared for continually. Last summer, I planted sunflowers in my garden. They grew over six feet tall, wilted, and went away. I decided not to plant new ones this year. To my surprise, little sprouts popped up in the soil a couple of months ago. Last year’s sunflowers dropped seeds that turned into new sunflowers this year. Similarly, a brand will root, grow, and produce the information needed to help develop or evolve into a new brand. Continually nurturing it will help it survive and, more importantly, thrive.

  2. Bringing Your Brand to Life and Improving Your Brand Performance are just as critical to a brand’s success as Defining Your North Star and Identifying Brand Distinction. We’ve seen brands come out swinging with a business strategy and brand strategy they love and wonder – a year later – why it seems no one is “living” their brand. The lack of traction is usually due to an ineffective activation or not keeping track of brand performance, the two stages in which most brands do not spend enough time. 

When a brand does not gain the traction marketers hoped for, we will conduct a brand audit to help uncover what may have gone wrong. 

The review usually reveals one or more of the following about the brand and its efforts:

  1. A business Strategy does not exist or has not been adequately communicated.

  2. The brand Strategy was developed in isolation without the contribution or – more importantly, the buy-in – of key stakeholders outside of marketing. (Read more about the perils of this approach in this article adapted by Fast Company).

  3. Internally bringing the brand to life was limited to making a brand guide available to employees who were expected to read and execute rather than understand and embrace. Limiting internal communication negatively impacts marketers’ ability to create brand experiences externally effectively.

  4. Brand performance elements were not put in place to ensure continued learning, innovative thinking, and progress measurement (i.e., learning programs, KPIs, etc.).

What do you do next?

In conclusion, we hope you use the Noetic Brand-Building Framework to look at your brands – and the business strategies from which they emanated – with fresh eyes and objectivity. If you feel you would benefit from help with this, we hope you reach out to Noetic Consultants. We are committed to strengthening brands and the people who build them. Guiding your brand through the lifecycle – in whole or in part – is a big part of that. We welcome the opportunity to explore with you.

Is Your Brand Portfolio a Mess? You’re Not Alone.

Marketers typically fall into brand portfolio management “after the fact”:  you’re tasked with overseeing several brands—developed internally or via acquisition—but they don’t form a coherent whole. Perhaps most of your products or services share your parent company’s name but those acquired over the years do not? Or, conversely, your parent company has taken a “house of brands” approach to its portfolio (similar to Procter & Gamble) and developed many brands over the years that have become unwieldy and difficult to manage?

At the end of the day, all of the brands compete for your company’s marketing dollars. Some may even compete with each other for customers. How do you bring order to this messy situation in order to maximize your marketing resources?

Consider this example: Noetic recently completed work for a non-profit healthcare provider that had a strong brand but had grown over the years by merging with and “bolting on” other organizations with similar missions. Some of these organizations were subbranded under the parent’s name (creating very long, unwieldy names), while others maintained their independent existences (thereby losing the opportunity for joint fundraising and messaging). The CMO knew that she needed to bring order to her house before she could continue to grow.

Here are some of the questions we asked the organization’s leaders:
  • Are your resources deep enough to support several brands? How many?
  • Is each brand distinct enough to warrant its own existence?
  • Will you lose target customers if you phase out subbrands (but not the products or services associated with them)?
  • Will you experience MORE pain maintaining subbrands or phasing them out?
  • What opportunities does restructuring your brand architecture create for your organization?

After conducting internal research and holding a brand workshop with key managers, we helped the organization come up with a plan: those subbrands whose target audiences overlapped most with the parent brand would be phased out over time and ultimately be branded with the parent organization. One subbrand serving teens that had built up years of equity and credibility with this audience would maintain its separate existence. Today, the organization is moving forward with clarity and purpose.

Most portfolio management dilemmas are challenges you happen upon after the fact or you inherit from those before you. If you find yourself with a messy brand portfolio, know that you are in good company. With some effort, creating a hard-working architecture that makes sense and works FOR you rather than against you is within your reach.

NNancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300oetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.

Build Up Your Creative Strength. No gym required!

Giving and receiving creative feedback is hard. For creatives, it can be dispiriting to hear your idea nitpicked to death. For marketers, providing relevant, actionable feedback is often a challenge. If you have ever wondered, “How do we work together to develop breakthrough creative?”, use the STRONG Creative Evaluation Tool as a step-by-step guide to help you and your partners develop better, more customer-centric work.

SSingle minded. In order to break through and have your message be remembered, it must be singular, focused, and clear. Ask “What one thing does this creative convey? Is it focused and memorable?”


TTarget relevant. Advertising must be relevant to your target customers for them to engage at all. Ask “Does this creative combine what we want to say as marketers with what our customers are interested in?”


RRiveting. Riveting advertising gets your target’s attention and engages them on an emotional level. Ask ”Will this grab them and make them feel something?”


OOn strategy. Creative that is “on brief” (delivers on the intended message) and “on brand” (supports the brand), is on strategy. Ask “Does this creative deliver on our strategy? Is it appropriately and consistently branded?”


NNew take. The product you’re marketing might not be distinct, but your message and advertising should be. Ask “Will this advertising get noticed? Is it new, fresh and distinctive?”


GGut reaction. Gut reaction is about the emotion that your target customer feels when they see your ad. Put on your customer hat and ask “What emotion does this creative convey? Is it the right emotion for our product and brand?”

If you would like to learn more or to schedule STRONG training for your marketing employees, please contact us at Click below to download the tool:


NNancie Head Shot-Edit 200x300oetic is a marketing consultancy specializing in brand strategy, research & training.

We are built upon an avid curiosity about varied businesses and their unique strategic challenges. We provide a fresh perspective and intelligent thinking without a rigid agenda that requires starting from scratch.

Our “I.D.E.A.” approach always starts with the vision our senior executive clients set. And our mission is to help our clients release their team’s full potential to achieve that vision.