If you can communicate your competitors’ key messages better than your own, there’s something wrong.

Ask a sales person what their competitors are all about and they will usually give you a very definite answer. They understand their competitors inside and out: their key messages, their brand story, their unique selling point (USP). Ask them the same question about their own company and sometimes the answers are not so definite, or more likely, they vary considerably depending on who you ask.

So, why can we sometimes communicate our competitors’ message and brand so much better than our own? Often it’s because organisations have a tendency to look out, not in – what are our competitors doing; what are our clients doing; what is the industry doing; what is the government doing; what are the regulators doing, and so on.

However, for true success organisations need to truly understand themselves, and more importantly, their employees need to understand what they stand for, because if they can’t communicate it internally then you can bet, they can’t communicate it externally. And if your team are having trouble articulating your key messages and brand values, it could be a sign that you’re not all aligned on understanding your purpose and ambitions as an organisation.

For true success organisations need to truly understand themselves, and more importantly, their employees need to understand what they stand for

Start with the company brand message. It should be a clear and simple statement that is easy to articulate and communicate, that states what the company stands for and what they are trying to achieve. Basically, it’s your 30 second elevator pitch. If you don’t have one, it’s time to workshop one with your team. Ask your employees what they feel your company is about, what it means to them and how they define the company brand.

If you’re still struggling, here are 5 steps to help you define your brand:

1. Define who you are

This is a great opportunity to develop and define your brand identity with your team members, it is important that all parts of the business are included not just sales. Questions you need to answer include:

  • What do we want our business to stand for?
  • How do we want our customers to describe us?
  • What are three keywords to describe our business?
  • What differentiates us from our competitors?
  • What are our core values?

All of this information will form the basis of your brand message.

2. Differentiate yourself from your competitors

Doing a competitor analysis is a good opportunity to visually see where you sit compared to your competitors. It also allows you to determine your niche, what space can you own that no one else does. Once you have that, you can refine and pinpoint your message to your customers, your USP.

3. Define your target audience

If you have one audience or if you have multiple it is important to clearly define who they are. Create personas for each audience segment, as this will allow you to meet their needs better, understand which channels you need to reach them in and target your message to them in a relevant way.

4. Create your Elevator Pitch

At times you need to communicate what you company does in a very short space of time, succinctly, engaging and relevant, in other words 30sec elevator pitch. This is a combination of who you are; what you do, your expertise, your niche; your value proposition; and most importantly why is it important to your audience.

5. Communicate

Now you have your company brand message, it’s now time to communicate it, to your clients, your partners, your suppliers and most importantly your staff. Remember the best brand ambassadors you have are your staff, so it’s is vital they can clearly articulate your brand message. And lastly, ensure that all of your messaging across all of your platforms and channels is consistent.

Suma Wiggins is Client Services Director at Paper & Spark.

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