Using the OPENBRAND Wheel

Follow the process set out below to move through the OPENBRAND Wheel. These simple steps outlined will take you from an initial branding brainstorm using a typical aspirational lens (the ‘open’ side), to an exploration of what sits behind the curtain and represents the truth of who you are (individually or as a collective) on the ‘closed’ side. You’ll then revisit the work done on the ‘open’ side with a new, more authentic perspective, and use the outputs to build a more authenic brand position and strategy.

Starting out in the open


The journey starts at the top of the OPENBRAND Wheel, outlining (for the individual, organisation or brand) the CULTURE, what many would call 'values'.

From here we follow a typical branding process, working clockwise through DIFFERENCE, VOICE, IMPACT and EXPERIENCE to the bottom of the wheel.

For each section, gather words or phrases that answer the following prompts (click the links for more explanation and examples):



How do we describe our community?


What is it that sets us apart or is unique?


How do we sound to those who hear us?


What tangible change do we deliver?


What do others feel when they interact with us?

Digging into what's closed-off

After completing the EXPERIENCE section at the bottom of the wheel for the first time, we step into the 'closed' side. Continue clockwise through SHORTFALL, INTENT and HIDDEN back to the top.

As before, for each section gather words or phrases that answer the prompts (click the links for more explanation and examples) :


Where do we fall short of what we promise?


What is it that drives our attitudes and actions?


What is it that remains unsaid about us?


Repeat to reveal & refine

To complete the first round of the OPENBRAND Wheel, work through each section of the open side a second time. The aim is to refine the words or phrases used to describe the organisation's CULTURE, DIFFERENCE, VOICE, IMPACT and EXPERIENCE based on the information revealed from opening up the ‘closed’. You may be surprised how much has changed!

This is the beginning of the shift from manufactured to true authenticity. How much you shift will depend on how deep you're willing to dig into the ‘closed’, and how much of what you find you're willing to reveal. Pick a level at which you, and the rest of your organisation, feel comfortable.

You can repeat the cycle as many times as you like, and stop any time you reach the bottom of the wheel (at EXPERIENCE). And use the content created to generate a set of brand guidelines and strategy as you would normally... ...only this time it’ll be one that embodies a new level of integrity and authenticity.

Peeling back the layers

Consider each cycle of the OPENBRAND Wheel as peeling back another layer, and with each cycle the authenticity rises. A single foray through the ‘closed’ may be sufficient for now, with the framework revisited periodically as comfort and confidence grows. Or it may take several cycles to get through the protective layers into something that can resonate more deeply.

It's a journey that likely never ends, yet it's also a journey worth taking. The invitation is to use this framework to explore what we too often fail to name. And then embrace what you’ve revealed to build a more truly authentic and open brand.

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