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The methodology for diagnosing a brand and developing a behavioral strategy

I'm calling this the 'old road' reading method as it can be used to identify the path that the brand is currently on and reveals a number of future paths that a brand can consider following. I am also calling it this because in the field at DeJoux House, New Paltz, NY, there is an old abandoned road to the left of the property and the perfect view of the rising sun to the right of the property. This was the inspiration for this reading technique.

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Step 1: Remove the 'Aces' from the Nockwood Deck. These will be used to direct and document the results of the reading. I like to line them up above the area where I am doing the reading as if they are overseeing the proceedings.

Step 2: Sort through the cards (or ask the person/group you are doing the reading for) and select the cards that represent the brand as it is, using only the words of the archetypes as descriptions. Do this quickly and without thinking too much. Gut feel is the strongest. If in doubt, save in a 'maybe' pile and come back to it if you do not have 6 definites.

Step 3: You want to reduce the cards down to about 6 that you feel strongly are 'true' of the brand. Don't skimp on this step of the journey. There are some good conversations to be had exploring where the brand currently is and why it is in the position it is.

Step 4: Sort the selected cards into their respective suits, placing cards of the same suit together in a rows. This is made easy by the color coding of the cards. As you become familiar with the cards it will become easy to see instantly which suits are dominant. Take the Aces of the two most dominant suits and place them to the left ('the old road') of the reading table/space. These two cards represent the past. Where the brand has been. The primary drivers.

If one of the cards that is the combination of both dominant Aces is selected then this should be placed in a prominent pace overseeing the remainder of the reading. This card has to be considered as an important part of any future for the brand.

If neither of the cards that are the combination of the two dominant Aces are selected, then remove these from the deck and place them below the two Aces that are to the left of the table. These cards will help you bring clarity and focus to a brand's current situation. You may want to consider strengthening where the brand is now and bring focus to brand before you start moving forward.

Step 5: Now, simply by looking at cards, you should be able to see some latent attributes of the brands that are different from the primary suit aces. For example, "Do you see lots of squares suggesting latent social engagement and community orientation?" "Do you see lots of downward facing triangles suggesting a latent passion or creativity?" The Aces for these latent archetypes and all the cards that feature these shape should be brought forward to inspire the discussion about each of these latent attributes. If the subject/participants believes that attribute is worthy of future development then the Aces of that suit must be placed to the right of the table, representing the future (or the "Rising Signs' as I've started calling them).

Step 6: Identify any missing suits. At this point it is normally apparent that there are certain suits (which you can prompt by bringing forward the Ace) that have not been part of the conversation. As soon as you point it out, they will see that this is a symbol that is not represented in the cards they selected. "Your brand lacks forward progress/innovation/diamonds!" "It's apparent that your brand lacks leadership/power/coins!". "You have great stability, leadership or passion but have not been able to convert it into community/social engagement/flag of public identity!" etc. etc. The question for the brand owner/team is whether this is intentional or simply because they lost sight of these important opportunities for the brand.

Step 7. Identify the future focus of the brand. Again, using the Aces, decided which two suits, either latent attributes or missing suits, they believe would be best to focus on in the future. Place these two aces to the right ('Rising Signs') of the work area/table. You can bring this to life even more by going into the deck of remaining cards and finding the cards which are the combination of these two aces. These cards can be placed below the 'Rising Sign' Aces as two suggested archetypes that would help the brand move forward. Refer to the 'key' at this point to read the 'behavioral statement' of the two cards as an exercise for the brand to think about.

Step 8: Now for the fun bit. With the Aces distributed in the past and the future (and possibly with a dominant card overseeing the table) you want to get to a 'Power Pair' of archetypes that represent a future strategy for the brand. This is where the cards are only a stimuli to conversation and the symbols a quick way of identifying all of your options and alternatives. Sometimes I find it helpful to put a couple of different pairs worthy of consideration as a starting point. Doesn't really matter which ones. Just something as a starting point to provoke. Sometimes I find it easier to go for three cards that feel right in the middle and use that as a starting point to potential combinations. You'll find your own way to do this and it will likely be differnent for every reading.

Step 9: Summarise your reading. Talk through where the brand was. The archetypes you are leaving down the 'old road'. It's not that you are walking away from them. These are equities you have that are strong, they should be maintained but that should not be the focus of the majority of your effort. Most organizations will default to supporting these without even thinking. The important cards are the 'power pair' in the middle. They are how you need to think and behave if you want to achieve your rising signs.

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