Have you ever had that dream where you find yourself on center stage and can’t remember your lines? Everybody is staring at you and recording everything you do. You’re not prepared and the stage fright starts to take over.
In today’s world, this nightmare often becomes a reality. Everything you say tells the story of your brand. There is a constant fear of never knowing who is recording what you say or when you say it. And once it is out there, you cannot take it back.
The only way to overcome this fear is to be prepared. When you’re on that stage and in the spotlight, choose your words wisely and make sure those words are true.
What you stand for is the differentiator that separates what your company does from what the competition does. It is your distinct advantage.
To understand the importance of knowing what you stand for, try this. Step into an elevator and ask someone what they do. They will say something like “I am in business development for the XYZ Widget Company. We make widgets for businesses all over the state.” (Consider how many other companies provide the same product.) Now ask them what they stand for. You will probably get silence and a shrug.
Now picture yourself in this situation. You’re in an elevator at a convention among your peers and somebody asks, “What do you stand for?” What do you say? You have about 15 seconds to establish yourself and make an impression. The person listening won’t even be tuned in to the first 10 seconds because they are judging your appearance and their gut feeling about you. So, you really only have five seconds. Can you say what you stand for as a company in five seconds?
One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four one-thousand, five one-thousand – and you’re done.
Try this Elevator Speech exercise with your team:
What makes us distinct? Can we say it in one word?
Create the speech:
Problem your product or service solves we distinct advantage that key benefit unlike the competition.
What you say and how you say it represents what customers hear and what they think about you. Your message can either make you stand out or stay unnoticed among the competition. We believe that messaging is your most powerful opportunity to express your authenticity as a company. You express your authenticity through your words and prove it through your actions. Start with the question: “Who are we?” Your company is made up of layers. To truly be authentic, you must examine each of these layers until you reach the core of your beliefs, vision and goals This is where you find who you are and what you represent as a company.
From there, every business decision you make should reflect who you are. Your authentic self is a collection of all of the things that make you and your business unique and individual—your passions, talents, inclinations, life experiences and especially your values and beliefs—what you stand for and why you’re in the business you are in.
Authenticity and Social Media
Social media has become one of the largest mediums for business communications in recent years. With hundreds of millions of monthly active users on Twitter and over a billion monthly active users on Facebook, companies are not only using social media as a way to communicate with their current customers, but also as a device to reach potential customers.
Your corporate brand voice and social media voice both represent who you are as a business, but they are different. These voices and the personality they reflect help bring your brand to life. Here are some points that help describe the differences:
- Accurately reflects your brand personality
- Is a single, anonymous voice involved in one-way communication
- Is consistent across mediums
- Is unique to the organization
- Involves a conversation between real people
- Reflects your brand as less formal and more human
- Is a two-way dialogue that’s informative and engaging
- Listens, learns and responds
Everything begins with purpose in branding, even brand voice. That’s because the voice expresses who and what you are—your values and your identity. Your voice, like your company’s values, allows you to connect with your audience—to inform, engage, influence, persuade and build the relationship. You naturally choose words and ideas that your audience can understand and relate to. Your brand voice combined with your visual identity strategy and company culture should be based on a coordinated brand strategy and work together to create a consistent and purposeful expression of your business.
Once you, or somebody else publishes an article, a comment, a positive statement or criticism, it will forever be there for someone to read. So choose your words carefully – even in an elevator.