How do you know when it's time to take a good look at your company's brand identity and voice? How do you know if you should re-engineer the way you communicate your company's strengths against those of your competition?
Use this guide:
1. You constantly apologize for your website. "We're at company.com. You can check us out, but the site is hideous and the content is outdated."
2. No one in your company—not even the founder—can tell you what your logo represents.
3. The overriding message in your marketing collateral is different from that of your website—and far different from what your team members communicate in face-to-face meetings.
4. What you thought was your key differentiator is the same value proposition claimed by your top five competitors. Look at your competitors and weigh their messages against yours. I'm willing to bet you're all hanging your hats on some combination/variation of "unparalleled service," "unmatched expertise" or "outstanding solutions."
5. You can't communicate your company's essence in 20 words or less.
6. All of your marketing messages are centered around what you do, not why you do it. All of your competitors do the same things as you. Why you do it (and how) is what sets you apart.
7. Take a closer look. In the last five years, your market has changed, your product or service has changed, and your value proposition has changed. But you haven't changed anything about your outward-facing messaging.
8. Nothing matches. You've added various marketing tools to your toolbox over the years (trade show booth, new logo shirts, a sales pamphlet, an e-newsletter, redesigned business cards, etc.), but when you place them all side-by-side, none of them look remotely alike.
9. As you've grown, your business development needs have become more ambitious, but you're still acting like a small company selling small contracts to small clients. What you never needed before—but need now—is a unique brand position.
10. You haven't thought about any of this stuff, until now.
Tom Nixon is a partner with Identity PR. He contributes to the agency's blog, where this article originally ran. Follow him on Twitter @tnixon16.