August 25, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Corey partner, Andrea Naddaff, recently wrote an article on branding in “Independent Agent” magazine, a publication whose readers include a national alliance of 300,000 business owners and their employees who offer insurance and financial services products.

Did you know that your brand speaks volumes before you do? Have you stopped to think about what your brand is telling prospects and clients before you even say a word? Does your brand convey the attributes that you sell—trust, caring and responsibility? In today’s world, where people are constantly bombarded with noise, it’s worth stepping back to think about how (and if)… every element of your brand is consistent and clear.

It’s difficult to understand a brand if its message is muddled. And in any industry, clear messaging is vital to stand out among the competition. Does your brand convey what you tell your customers?

If your brand’s action doesn’t parallel its message’s words, it can become indistinct and confusing. When producers selling your organization’s services and products are confused, the customer will also, ultimately, be perplexed. The process starts with an overarching idea—a cohesive message—that cascades to a series of sub-messages targeted to your target audiences.

A strong and cohesive messaging system must be coupled with the right sales toolkit; the combination unifies the message verbally and visually, presenting the brand the way it should be understood by various audiences. Through this method, the much sought-after brand equity, which we define as the sum of time, consistent communication and consistent delivery, is created and attained. While a convoluted message may not necessarily tarnish a blue chip player entirely, it will certainly result in an undisciplined and potentially disregarded brand defi nition. To the same lengths, a poorly-defined message can hinder a new launch. Here are some tips and trigger points that can help to ensure a better understanding of how a brand speaks to its customers and what it is telling them:

1. Words matter. Make sure all sales and business development staff have reached a level of unison and speak from the same script. Good messaging architecture gives license to use one’s own jargon or speak, but the overall protocol of the messaging system must always be respected.

2. Tools matter. No matter how talented or experienced they might be, all sales and business development professionals need the proper tools to sell and succeed. Whether those tools include PowerPoint presentations, an intranet system that houses the tools or a Word template, they must be developed to function in a way that works for you.

3. Consistency matters. Ensure that all multiplatform and marketing communication channels of the message look and behave like they are from the same brand family. Then, take advantage of social media to express other aspects of the brand’s story that also need and deserve to be told.

Be sure you take a look at how your brand performs and what it conveys when you aren’t able to verbally explain it. The story should be the same, and in any business, that means establishing trust and conveying the feeling that the customer or prospect matters from the very first time they read, see or hear about you. I trust and conveying the feeling that the customer or prospect matters from the very first time they read, see or hear about you.

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