Do you know who you are? How well can you articulate it to prospective clients? If you think they can tell what you do and what value you can provide them simply based on your name, logo and tagline, you could be mistaken. These brand components only work if you have gone through the process of evaluating the products and services you offer, the audiences you target, and what makes you different from competitors – all of which can change tomorrow.
The drilled-down question then becomes “how do I convey what my company represents with the certainty for today and the flexibility to meet future demands?”
Corporate positioning starts with a given: the well-grounded understanding of your products and services, and what value they provide to the marketplace. A spinoff consideration is the competitive offerings and where the overall market is heading so you don’t position yourself outside of the market. For example, there are fewer FM radio stations now than there have been in decades because consumer tastes are shifting to satellite radio, which is significant to know if you are targeting the 18-34 demographic with advertising or other tactics.
Often the harder part of knowing who you are is articulating who you are to others. Is your name descriptive? Is your tagline too similar to competitors? Is the logo trademarked? Ultimately the answers to all these questions must lead to a position that reinforces the positive attributes of your firm, and the best ones draw out the emotions of a prospect that entices them to engage with you, continue the relationship with your firm, and ultimately make a purchase.
If you struggle with turning your prospects into customers, evaluate your marketing before you blame the sales force (assuming you have a great product at a good price). Marketing messages and the visual elements that portray your company need to be representative and then communicated to your target. Prospects will communicate back to you with their impressions, either positively by calling back or scheduling a meeting, or negatively through a “no thanks” - or worse, through nothing. Pay attention to the silent communication – it’s telling you that your marketing is off target.
Who you are is much more than the bells and whistles you can add to your Web site or cranking out consensus-driven slogans late at night. Who you are is the essence of why you are in business, and it needs to be approached and revisited with all the energy and detail that you apply to sales, accounting, and any other business function. And just like those other departments, there are marketing methodologies and processes that help you define, communicate, and maintain who you are, i.e. your brand. If you don’t have the in-house resources for this, seek consultation from a credible outside source because not only is it worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
Dina Wasmer is president of Incite Creative, Inc., a provider of strategic marketing and communications design services. She is a longtime member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and has received awards from the Art Directors Club of Metropolitan Washington, Graphic Design USA, University and College Designers Association, and the Advertising Association of Baltimore. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see www.incitecreativeinc.com.