Brand or Die!

A Small Business Survival Guide

Who are you?

  • Posted: 2:47 PM
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  • Author: Mikal J. Caldwell

It's a simple question. Who are you? Do you know what your company's identity is? More importantly, do your customers? Are you sure?

An excercise that I take my clients through goes something like this: I ask them to imagine that they've been stranded on a desert island and have missed the last 5 years of advertising and commercials. You're rescued and given the opportunity to catch up. The only thing is, all they have to give you are your company's promotional materials. Would they be able to figure out exactly who you are?

There are usually two big mistakes companies make when producing promotional materials. They either (a) don't present their identity in clear, plain language, or (b) talk about their company from the company's perspective, instead of what would be meaningful to the audience. In some cases, it's both.

I remember when I first started out, I would try to impress people with all the jargon I knew. They'd ask what I did and I would spout off about core message alignment and concentric marketing design. Finally, one gentleman (who I still keep in touch with today), after hearing me use all the marketing-speak I knew, asked simply: "That sounds good...but what do you do?"

That was just the cold-water-in-the-face that I needed to wake me up from being so impressed with myself. How would you feel about somebody that constantly talked over your head or only about how great they were? The funny thing is, most of us do exactly that when we design brochures or content for our websites. Take a step back and ask yourself if someone that didn't know what you know, would still be able to get what you're trying to say. If not, then go back to the drawing board until you can present yourself in clear language, that explicitly speaks from the customer's point of view.

Go forth and be ruthless!

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