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It’s not you. It’s your brand. Is brand ambiguity stunting your sales growth?

Over the last fifteen years, I’ve participated in more corporate messaging workshops than can be counted. Inevitably, at a certain point during the workshop, the facilitator will ask the collective group: “Who ARE we?” Typically, the marketing leaders are quick to reiterate the company’s vision or mission statement, while sales leaders rattle verbiage from their elevator pitches, and executives state messages similar to those they give investors on analyst calls. Turns out, answering “Who ARE we?” is not that simple of a question after all.

Is your brand suffering from a bit of ambiguity? Try this simple experiment the next time you’re riding up the elevator with colleagues. Ask the folks standing beside you, “Who is {insert your company name here}?”

I’m not a gambler, but I’d wage a bet you’d get limited overlap in responses. Why? Perhaps because your organization hasn’t fully invested the time and effort into crystalizing their brand positioning and brand purpose for all employees, customers and stakeholders.

No longer reserved for consumer-facing brands, it has become essential for business-to-business organizations to not only create and develop a brand but also define their position and purpose. Why?

Not only will it separate your brand from a sea of sameness among competition, but it can elevate your position in the market. If we as marketers can prevent our sales team from being asked “So who are you, again?” we’ve done part of our job.

I’ve worked on branding and rebranding initiatives for companies of all sizes – and what do they all have in common? An aligned purpose to create a great brand.

But what does it take to go from good to great? Well, good brands merely fulfill a need. They provide a service, or a product, based upon an expressed need.

But a great brand? A great brand anticipates. How? By truly understanding their customers. Talking to them. Asking questions. Reading about them in the news. Thinking about their current and future needs.

And while it may be unpleasant, or downright excruciating, asking your customers where your brand falls short can be one of the first steps towards creating a brand people trust. After all, people want partners, not vendors.

Sometimes the most important part of creating and maintaining a successful brand is simply realizing that just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean it’s working. In the last year alone, we’ve seen notable brands take inventory of their brand presence and come to the ultimate realization that their current identity is no longer aligned with their future state. Let’s look at three notable examples:

  1. Dunkin Donuts ditched the donuts and debuted a short name – Dunkin – along with a modernized look and feel to test stores around the country earlier this year. The company is investing $100 millionto update their stores and “better meet the evolving tastes” of their customers, which will include new equipment and dedicated drive-through lanes so people who order drinks on their phones (hello, Starbucks!) can pick them up easily. They realized the market demanded more than coffee and donuts to stay competitive, and they’re putting their money where their mouth is.
  2. Unlike Dunkin’, Slack kept their name but instead chose to revamp their original (dare I say iconic?)logo. This move caused an onset of conversation around the decision to ditch the beloved hashtag in favor of a simpler visual identity. Why? They felt it was time to evolve. Beyond the unexpected logo swap, Slack’s rebrand came in advance of a direct public offering expected later this year.
  3. Earlier this year, WeWork announced their rebrand, informing the market that they will now be known as We Company. This strategy was likely designed for both investors and customers in order to broaden their aspirations from places to people. The announcement also came with a sweet perk – to the tune of $2 billion in investment from SoftBank Group.

Taking inventory of your current brand and determining whether it aligns with your future growth is no easy feat. In part two of this post, we’ll review the main drivers that help indicate when a logo refresh is needed, a repositioning workshop will do, or when a full rebrand makes the most sense.

We’ll walk through logical next steps, including how to get it done. Using your brand as a springboard to add colorful depth to your offerings can easily change the conversation and help your sales team create meaningful relationships to not just power the sales cycle but build the funnel at the same time.