Authored by Guest Blogger, Carrie Majewski

A few years ago, I was sitting in a breakout session at Content Marketing World, the mecca trade show for all marketers, when the speaker asked us all to think about our organizations for a moment. Then she asked us a tough question: what kind of person is your company?

Let me elaborate…

We were asked to ponder if our company is the type of person we would trust, find inspiring, be proud to call an acquaintance, a colleague or even a friend. It left a number of us in the room fearing we had to do better.

I love this exercise and have brought it to several companies since then. For so many of us, it is easier to describe our company based on P&L balance sheets, mission statements and Net Promoter Scores than it is for us to try to put a human face to our brand. We may profess to be guided by a number of core values that are nothing more than a marketing gimmick (Enron, anyone?). And we may approach branding and marketing decisions based on what our budget tells us, rather than what our data suggests.

But as a business owner and professional marketer, this is a question I have to think about every single day. Specifically, if my company the Women in Leadership Nexus was a person, how would I describe that individual? Warm and introspective? Empathetic and empowering? Convicted to do better and see better? Think about your own company for a moment. What words, phrases and images come to mind?

Understanding who your brand is—and more importantly, how your existing and prospective customers would describe it—has never been more critical. After all, it’s well understood that today’s consumers already have a heightened degree of skepticism about our companies. Just consider the following statistics:

  • According to a recent report from Cohn & Wolfe, just 22 percent of global consumers agree that brands today are open and honest
  • Seventy percent of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10 percent trust advertising, according to a report from Forrester Research
  • The No. 1 quality or behavior consumers want demonstrated from big brands is honest communication about products and services, according to Cohn & Wolfe

In other words, there’s doubt about the authenticity of our brands; concern we are more focused on the hard sale than customer service; and belief that we don’t truly understand our target market’s pains. Simply put, many of our companies are not the types of individuals with whom our clients want to associate. And that means we have a problem.

To uncover who your brand is, start with a simple exercise:

  • Assemble your organizational leaders, making sure to grab folks from different departments.
  • Pass around a piece of paper and ask each to write down a few words or phrases that come to mind when they are asked the question, “If your company was a person, what kind of person would it be?”

Read the results out loud; the answers may surprise you.

This exercise will reveal not only what your team believes to be the brand’s biggest strengths (e.g. professionalism, honesty, commitment to the customer experience, etc.) but also what is missing. It’s just as important to pay attention to the words that make the list as it is the ones that don’t.

For extra credit, perform the same exercise with a small subset of your customers. You will be amazed at the words that make their list that don’t make yours and vice versa.

carrie headshotCarrie Majewski is committed to affecting change. As Founder of the Women in Leadership Nexus, Carrie is fueled by a desire to create safe space for female luminaries to convene to redefine the notion of leadership. She has forged a career around strategic writing and storytelling, having led a digital marketing agency for almost three years and today working as Marketing Principal for Trilix Tech. Carrie is a 2017 Rhode Island “40 Under 40” honoree and a 2016 Rhode Island Tech10 Winner. In her spare time you’ll find her trying out a local hip-hop class, exploring parks with her rescue dog Tori, and sipping coffee with other powerhouse women.

 

 

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