Rebranding Revealed Part 2: Positioning and Messaging Development
In the first part of this four-part series, I drew an analogy between rebranding your company and building a restaurant. The point being that you need to build a strong foundation before worrying about the design elements. In that post, we poured the brand foundation by interviewing senior leadership about key elements of the corporate strategy, like company mission, target customers, product roadmap and more. In today’s post, we’ll use all the insights we gleaned to start framing out the building i.e. developing the positioning and messaging that are the key elements of our new brand.
As an old boss used to say, “It’s simple, it’s just not easy.” You need to take all the notes from your interviews and sit down and write a detailed positioning and messaging document (PMD) for your company. Maybe I’m old school, but what ever happened to writing things down? A couple bullets on a slide are not sufficient for defining your company brand and value proposition. It’s not quick, and it’s not easy, but it’s imperative that you create a long-form document that is the ultimate authority on who your company is, why it exists, what value it provides to customers, and where it’s going.
Our PMD here at MultiView ended up being around 12 pages (single space) and took many hours, days and weeks of thinking and iteration to get right. Remember, this document will be used to develop your brand and communications across stakeholders including customers, partners, agencies, analysts and employees.
While there are many variations of how to format a PMD, I typically divide mine into two sections.
Section 1: The facts
- Basic facts and stats. To create baseline content, agencies and others need to know the basics, such as when the company was founded, size (employees, revenue), executive leaders, industries you serve, locations, key technologies and product lines, numbers of customers, key publicly available financial data, etc.
- Differentiating facts and stats. These are the things that set you apart in your market like technologies, distribution, expertise, etc. In our case: being the technology pioneer and leader of our market with over 15 years of experience in B2B publishing, having run over 1 million campaigns, collecting data on millions of B2B buyers over a decade, and designing over 400,000 display ads for B2B campaigns.
- Target markets, customers, decision-makers. This involves describing all the markets you serve and the types of customers you would ideally want to win in each market (e.g. SMBs in healthcare or large enterprises in manufacturing). For each of your major markets and lines of business you should create a detailed customer profile (also called a persona) including their role, title, demographics, firmographics, challenges, related services they use, places they go for information, and lots more. You should also write a detailed description of the decision-makers for your types of products and the process by which they research and select new vendors.
- Customer pain points. For each customer persona, you need to detail their specific pain points, problems and challenges that are relevant to the solutions you provide. This is essential in order to complete the next step where you’ll explain your company’s value proposition in terms of how you solve customers’ problems. Remember, no bullets – write these out in detail. Hopefully you can leverage direct research with your customers and not just go by gut feel.
- Company/industry classification. This is how industry analysts or financial analysts would classify your company using standard industry terminology. To make it even more clear, you should also define what type of company you are not. For example, MultiView is a digital marketing solutions provider for B2B companies. MultiView is not an ad agency and is not an ad network.
Section 2: The messages
Now that you’ve covered the basics, you need to write formal messaging that answers the questions you asked all the stakeholders during your interviews. You’ll recall from my first post that these include:
- Vision/mission. Clearly state the purpose of your company, which doesn’t mean what it does but why you do what you do. For example, Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” not to enable people to search or send email.
- Company description. This is the long-form version of your “About Us” copy on your website or press release. It should provide the overall story of the company and highlight how long you’ve been in business, what markets you serve with which products, where you operate, and your value proposition and differentiation at a high level. (See next two bullets)
- Value proposition. Write the detailed explanation of how your products and services help solve the customers’ problems. This should be described in terms of the true value you deliver not just product features and benefits.
- Competitive difference. This is one of the most important parts of the whole process so you’ll want to spend a lot of time clearly articulating why your company is better than all the other choices the customers has to solve their problem.
After you’ve developed all your core messages, you’ll need to distill them down into the key pillars of your brand. These are the actual words (and accompanying descriptions) that define what makes your company truly great and how you want people to perceive your brand. By way of example, we put our three brand pillars right on our homepage to showcase what makes us unique.
Speaking of websites, that is the primary place where people will interact with your brand so a good test of your messaging is to formally copy write your “About Us” page that tells your story exactly as you want customers, press, and analysts to see it. Then take that draft document and get feedback from internal stakeholders and customers. Here’s an example of what we did on our “About” page and our “B2B Connected” story page.
The next step is to begin defining your brand essence, which includes your personality, identity/logo, design/style, and voice/tone. And it starts by conducting an agency search – assuming you don’t have an in-house creative agency or you want to get a fresh, external perspective. We’ll cover that topic in our next post so stay tuned. (Or catch up on this series by reading the first post about laying the foundation of your rebranding.)