10 Signs that You Don’t Know How to Talk about Your Brand

(Or that you might not really have one!)

  1. You’re frequently at a loss when trying to think up brand-related social media, newsletter, blog, or website content.
  2. If you asked ten different employees to describe what you do or who you are as a company, everyone would say something different.
  3. You cringe at networking or social events when people ask about your work; you ramble and mumble.
  4. The marketing material your company produces seems to speak in clichés, is monotonous, or sounds identical to your competitors.
  5. You certainly spend a lot of effort and money getting “the word” out, but you’re not sure it’s the right word to begin with.
  6. Your brand messaging and content lacks focus; it’s all over the map.
  7. You have a great company, but competitors win the business with a better, or more memorable, story.
  8. You struggle with how to tell your agency or creative partners what “fits” your brand, or what reflects its proper brand personality, voice, or tone.
  9. Your employees can’t say what makes your organization different or better.
  10. Your target customer or client is “everyone.”
These are a just few common indicators that brand-related issues are at work within your company or organization and that some focused brand work might be needed.

You’ll find no brand-shaming here.

Seeing your organization in any of these? Don’t be ashamed.

“We don’t know how to talk about ourselves,” is the single most common complaint of my rebranding clients no matter their size or complexity.

So, you’re far from alone. Chances are if your head’s bobbing to one of these, it’s likely nodding to several, and overall the list feels a bit like looking in a mirror.

I can tell you from experience that you also likely feel “stuck.” Many of these symptoms align with larger feelings and frustrations of inertia. That’s typically because organizations are trying to address these signs or issues as isolated and individual problems, when they are really systemic and interrelated brand and business issues across the complex ecosystem that is your business.

Brand doesn’t live on the surface.

How we talk about our businesses––complex as that is––is just the outward expression, which is based on more fundamental internal understandings of our organization, and its business model, culture, customers, core messages, etc.

If we don’t have a shared idea and understanding of the businessit’s purpose, and vision, or a common language to even begin to talk about it, it’s no wonder that individual symptoms, and their related initiatives and Band-Aids, don’t seem to address the underlying problems.

It can be difficult for a business owner (or even a skilled trusted business advisor) to clearly see how these multiple pain points, gaps, or seemingly random loose ends coalesce around a lack of brand strategy or articulation at the core. Or, for that matter, to even clearly pinpoint and classify all the issues.

It takes both macro vision and micro focus to be able to suss all that out, and most organizations need an outside, objective observer and facilitator to coach them through the discovery and articulation of both the problem and its potential solution.

Brand clarity doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s also good to give yourself some time to absorb, refine, and test. Articulation, clarity, and even comfort level with new mindsets or fresh brand language are rarely “baked” all at once.

Case in point: After resetting Gist Brands’ brand focus from my prior agency model, it took a good 18 months or more of talking about my new line of business and my new brand focus before it felt natural and fluid (and before people were grasping and responding to it.)

It was naturally difficult for someone outside to understand and absorb it until I truly believed it; had internalized it; and had polished it through many successive interactions with others.

It found its mark through prototyping, testing, and rapidly iterating different language, metaphors, and approaches. Suddenly there was a tipping point where people were responding with, “Wow, how does that work?” or “Tell me more,” rather than the, “Huh…that’s ummm…interesting,” of the months prior.

It takes time for a brand to “be real” for you internally within your organization, before it can be real externally for others.

Struggling with knowing where to start? Drop me a line.