Every organization promoting a campaign, product or service has a story to tell. But before it can effectively communicate its story, it first has to be able to articulate to its audience who it is, what it stands for and why anyone should care. And before it can successfully establish itself with an audience, it first has to identify what makes it unique and different – it has to find and bond with its core identity. As Dennis Hahn of ID Branding has said, this core identity should ideally represent “all that an organization stands for – or hopes to stand for.”
Defining core identity takes a lot of honest navel gazing by an organization to determine what it already knows about itself, as well as horizon-gazing to see where it fits within the landscape of its “market” and where it wants to go in the future. Core identity “…is not based on what goes on, but what goes in…” to defining the organization’s “very substance,” (Jean-Noel Kapferer, Strategic Brand Management). Organizations benefit from regular reviews of core identity. Many organizations get lost because they focus only on what they do and forget who they are.
All messaging should flow from and be true to this core identity. And that messaging should have these five essential components:
- Key Messages – these are the key attributes or assertions about the organization that are central to an understanding of who it is, what it does and why anyone should care.
- Positioning Statement – communicates the one essential idea at the heart of how the organization defines itself and how it is distinct as a brand.
- Brand Promise – tells how the organization’s audience/stakeholders/customers will benefit – practically and emotionally – from its attributes.
- Unique Proposition – tells of the unique set of attributes that set the organization apart from its competition.
- Personality/Values – reveals the human qualities that animate the organization; that reflect its true character and make it tick.
With these five essential components, an organization can effectively tell its story (or stories) while communicating its brand and staying true to its core identity.
Food for thought—
“…jettison the ambiguities, simplify the message and then simplify it some more.” —Al Ries, Jack Trout