The Deep Dive: Breaking Down the Discovery Interview

A great brand isn’t constructed overnight. A solid brand first needs to establish a strong core upon which to build a narrative. At Skyrocket, our mission is to help new and established brands alike communicate their value in a way that resonates with their audience and fosters connection. When we begin a new branding project, our first goal is to gain understanding. Why is the brand here today? How did it get to this point? Where is it going? To help us get the information we need from a client and gain that deep understanding, we rely on a simple yet key tool in our Corporate Brand Development Framework—the Discovery Interview. The Discovery Interview is one of our most important tools, it’s how we begin any new brand development project. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how we use the Discovery Interview at Skyrocket and why it’s crucial to our work.

What’s the purpose of a Discovery Interview?

We begin brand development with information gathering, and use the Discovery Interview as a tool to learn more directly from brand stakeholders. Through the interview process, we’re able to learn all about a brand or organization—from their origin to their vision—and go into the depths to uncover key character points that we might not see on the face of the project. Our team wants to know the backstory, so we can create a brand that has as much depth and meaning as possible. The Discovery Interview gives us a baseline for what is true for the organization, brand, and people involved and from it, we can craft the brand narrative. We learn about how the organization is structured; the team or founder’s stories, concerns, what they think differentiates them, target market assumptions, current positioning strategy, and more. We collect and analyse all of the above to assess what we know and what we don’t. Is the product or service offering clear? What is the unique value proposition? Can we pinpoint the target customer or do we need more information?

In-person sessions give our team more information

How Skyrocket starts a branding project

Our branding projects follow a clear process, and the Discovery Interview is step three. To give you a sense of how we work, here are the steps leading up to the Discovery Interview:

  • Step 1 Project kickoff - We hold a Client Kick-off session for every new project. Here we introduce everyone who will be involved in the project and review/set project goals and key dates.
  • Step 2 Research - After kick-off, our strategists begin the research phase. We aim to self-educate, so we can maximize the value of the time we spend with clients. We do some preliminary market research into the industry space, the existing site and any materials, designs, marketing collateral and messaging the client has provided us. We use this research to prepare questions and exercises for the Discovery Interview.
  • Step 3 Discovery Interview - This interview session is with the Skyrocket team members and the client’s team and/or stakeholders. We typically allot 2 hours for this session. We follow a general questionnaire that we’ve refined over time. The interview format encourages the interviewer to follow up and go deeper.

What our Discovery Interview looks like

The Discovery Interview is a session with client stakeholders and select Skyrocket team members, including the Account Strategist who leads the session, the Director of Strategy, the Director of Client Services and anyone else who will be supporting the project. From the client-side, stakeholders could include the entire team for smaller firms, representatives from various departments for larger companies, or founders for start-ups or growing companies. The sessions are personal—we’re looking to understand who they are as an organization and what they're like as people—all of which inform the brand design and verbal identity. Establishing a human connection is one of the most rewarding aspects of our work.

We do our best to tailor sessions to needs, schedules, and comfort levels, to ensure the sessions are helpful and manageable for our clients. A general guide for our Discovery Interview sessions sets us on the right path, and then we steer discussions, freely exploring when something said piques our interest. Every session is different, so we ask strategic questions and use creative exercises to extract information and dig deeper.

Upon digging deeper, we discover keys to an organization's identity

Whenever possible we hold sessions at the Skyrocket office, though virtual meetings are becoming increasingly more popular. For virtual meetings, we record the session, so we can focus on the interview during our time, insisting that cameras be on. The interview is as much about recognizing the feelings and emotions as it is about fact-finding, and often we see that in body language and facial expressions. Wherever we do hold the session, it’s a valuable time for us to connect as human beings.

How the Discovery Interview impacts clients

Over the years we’ve seen how the Discovery Interview also presents an opportunity for introspection and self-learning for our clients. One example is our session with Fission founders during brand development. Fission is an internet technology company building development tools and open-source components, and the team had been pouring energy and time (several years) into building a product to disrupt and change the technology space. When it was time for them to revisit branding, the sessions with Skyrocket gave them time to pause and reflect.  Through the stories and hard questions, we uncovered prevailing themes, strengths, challenges, and opportunities that the team might not have seen on their own. Fission co-founder and CEO, Boris Mann said,

The process highlighted things that we didn’t pause to think about until we were in the middle of that process with Skyrocket.”

Read about our work with Fission here. Imagine coming away with a renewed sense of purpose, a reminder of who you are, and reconnecting to your organization's ‘why.’ It’s exciting and gives you the momentum you need to keep you charged for the road ahead.

After the interview, we weave the bullet points and facts into a story that emphasizes key insights for our writers and designers. Next, we research to deepen our understanding (e.g., customer interviews, focus groups, scanning the competitive landscape, etc.). The Discovery process takes 2-3 weeks on average. Once we have a holistic view, we’re able to develop a brand that’s authentic to who they are and sets them apart from their competitors. Brand development can be wonderfully transformative. Concepts and notions become designs and language for our clients to take back into the world.

The big picture

Discovery is a crucial part of our Strategic Framework for Corporate Brand Development, and the Discovery Interview helps us establish those guiding principles we need for future work. Zoomed out, we can see that the way we develop brands ensures that we’re collecting the information we need to create,  refine and even transform an organization through the power of the brand. The work we do yields tools and insights that inform business decisions and facilitate growth for our clients. By taking the time we need to understand our client’s business strategy, goals, and internal processes, we’re able to identify gaps, opportunities, and new directions.

If you’re working through your brand internally, you might find it helpful to engage a third party, who can offer an external perspective. If you’re ready to explore the possibilities, reach out to get the conversation started.

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