11 May Brand Messaging Starts With a Postage Stamp
It is the hardest thing that companies must do: define who they are for their customers. What is ironic about this is that it really shouldn’t be that difficult to do. If you sell widgets – you’re a widget seller. If you provide home care services – you are home healthcare provider. If you assist companies with their marketing efforts – you’re a marketing agency. But there are thousands of other businesses out there that do what your company does. What makes you different? What makes you unique? It isn’t as easy to define this as one might think, and when you start to go down this rabbit hole, you start to get side tracked and begin to see how challenging this effort is to achieve. But answering the question, “Who are we as a business,” is just as important as the service or product you are providing.
We’ve helped brands answer this very question and, even when we had to answer it for ourselves, we found it to be a challenge. The biggest reason for this challenge is because you start to put more into this than you actually are. You start to describe your brand and business with irrelevant things to try to make you sound bigger, more important and robust than the brand actually is. If you ever find yourself at this point, here is a tip that will help you navigate your way to your brands true messaging and identify – brand messaging starts with a postage stamp.
Do One Thing and Do It Well
If you think of a postage stamp, in it’s purest form, it does one thing – it helps get mail from one place to another. It isn’t used to fasten an envelope together. It is not act as a return address able. It has withstood the test of time and while it has evolved in price, color and design, it does one thing and does it well. For your company, brand messaging starts with a postage stamp. Find what your postage stamp is. Find what it is that your brand or company can do better than everyone else and let that guide you. Your brand messaging should reflect this and not deviate from it. It should be something that is easily understood and communicated in a way that everyone, from your team members to your customers, clearly understands who you are and what you offer that separates you from everyone else.
Listen to Your Customers
The postage stamp has evolved overtime, to the point where they are collector’s items now. They have changed their design, size, shape and even price, but they have done so based on feedback from the economy and their customers.
Your brand is who you are and people are always judging it. Your customers are the ones who ultimately define what your company actually stands for as a brand. The perception they have of your brand is what they share with others. It is extremely important to select your brand values carefully as your company name, vision and mission statement are essential in building trust, loyalty and lifelong customers.
Stick to One Thing Until You Get To Where You’re Going
This is probably the most important thing companies can learn from being a postage stamp. Postage stamps stick to one thing (literally) until it gets to where it needs to go. As a company, your brand messaging and direction should be consistent throughout your organization and with your company until you successfully achieve the goals you set. While companies need to be flexible, abandoning the main purpose and direction of the company can be devastating to accomplishing the ultimate goals of a company.
As you look into how you want to grow you company, make sure that your brand is clearly defined throughout the entire organization. Establish your purpose – or your DNA as we call it – and the type of “voice” you want to have in the marketplace, as well as the values by which you conduct your business. Having a well defined Vision and Mission Statement helps to describe why you exist beyond making money and is needed to guide your team. Vision statements should be short and sweet. This can be challenging with all of the business jargon that gets thrown around today. To help our clients, we perform an exercise with that follows a very simple method to achieve and 8-10 word statement. We have our clients formulate it using a Verb – Target – Outcome methodology. Vision statements speak to the qualities you want to convey, not the points you need to make.
Messaging for a company, whether it is a startup or a company looking for a new vision, is a process that will make any organization unlock who they really are and the benefits they provide their customers. While it is a challenging process, it is something that can help clearly differentiate any organization, taking it from “just another company” to THE company people need and want to establish a successful partnership. Be sure to always remember brand messaging starts with a postage stamp. Doing so will always get you to where your brand messaging needs to go.
About the Author
Jeff Ryznar is a marketing professional with over 15 years of strategic marketing experience and planning for some of the largest brands including Ford Motor Company, General Motors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He is currently the owner of 898 Marketing, specializing in custom marketing strategies and business solutions for small and medium sized business in the Midwest.