Without a unique and consistent brand identity and core message, your company can easily lose its way, and worse, get lost in the market, stressed Dina Wasmer, president of Incite Creative, a local marketing and graphic design company, to members of the GBC at an October 24 Breakfast Briefing session.
Wasmer argued companies that make a smart investment up front in branding and defining its position will save money in the long run.
A company’s brand determines how the outside world perceives your company. It’s essential for a company to define a path and establish a brand identity so that the company knows the direction that it is headed every step of the way, Wasmer said. This message must be consistent throughout every department in the company, from human resources to marketing to administrative support. It is critical for everyone in a company to speak with one voice – to go out into the world with one clear message.
Wasmer recommends that companies answer these questions:
• Who are you?
• What business are you in?
• What category of people do you serve?
• What’s needed by the market you serve?
• Who are your competitors?
• What unique benefit is derived from your product or services?
• How would you like your company or organization to be perceived?
Incite Creative’s marketing experts frequently begin a positioning workshop for the entire staff of the company. The positioning process begins by asking each employee to spend about 30 minutes identifying their company’s products and services. Consultants pry and provoke each employee to answer honestly and emphasize that this exercise is critically important and is not an “impress the boss” session.
The positioning statement gives a company focus. Not to be confused with a lofty vision statement, or a goal-oriented mission statement, a positioning statement defines a company’s place in the market, said Wasmer. It captures the essence of the business and provides a reference point for all out-going messages.
The second step toward successfully branding a company is to dig deeper and brainstorm the target market, including all potential customers for its brand. The broader the target market, the more difficult it is to have a unique focus, warned Wasmer. It helps to put a face to this profile – title, size, for profit vs. non-profit, hobbies, location, personality, income, gender, ethnic background, etc.
Employees are also asked to list the company’s primary and indirect competitors and the distinguishing or unique characteristics of the company compared to its competitors. “Never write ‘full service’ or ‘quality’ – they are not unique characteristics or qualities,” said Wasmer.
A positioning framework is created following the vote of every employee to select their choice of the best descriptions of the company.
As a result of this process, a company may find itself with 1 to 3 positioning statements focusing on each target market, said Wasmer. This outcome is acceptable because more than likely the positioning statements will not be published outside the company. The positioning statements are not necessarily intended to be “sexy” marketing tools but rather describe and become part of the nuts and bolts of the company.
Once completed, from marketing messages to employee-customer/client networking, the positioning outcome should serve as a foundation for everything the company does and every piece of collateral directed to the target audiences.