I've been discussing elevator speeches recently, but with a subtle undertone: "branding".
While we don't directly control a brand, we create conditions that can influence brand. I think this is a critical part of marketing communications - and I am confident that this is an effort that includes both external AND internal communication. In other words, the images, documents, ads, and events we create aren't enough. To really do the job properly, to influence our brands successfully, we need to get EVERYONE - even those within the organization - on the same page.
THINGS CAN GO BAD:
In B2B Marcom, "bad" isn't always a disaster, but bad isn't good. Here's an example of a brand going bad. It's not horrible, or disasterous, and it's not a done deal. Here is a personal example of how my singing partner and I are becoming known by a name that we don't necessarily like.
Background: we perform at a local open mic in an awesome coffee house in Utica, NY, The Tramontane Cafe. The owners are great friends. One of the owners introduces the performers as they take the stage. Recently, as we were about to go on, we were introduced as "Short & Sweet" (a play on my name, and the fact that my vocalist is an awesomely nice person). He made that name up as we don't have a name for our act - we're just Rick and Katie. I don't like the name he has given us, but I didn't say anything about it. Since the announcer DOES like it, he continues to use it. Check out his latest intro in this video (and watch me grimmace):
If I were to have had my B2B Marcom hat on, I would have dealt with this issue BEFORE it started, making sure that everyone knew EXACTLY what to call "the product". This would have included EVERYONE involved, including me and my vocalist. Additionally, if it were a true business endeavor, I would have politely spoken to the announcer as soon as the first incident arose. It could have turned into a non-event.
Instead, I've been nonchalant and sloppy (unprofessional) and now I have an "issue". What an excellent way to learn a lesson - when it really doesn't matter (learning things the EASY way). But, it remains an EXCELLENT example for the times when the stakes are high.
WE GET PAID TO MAKE THINGS GO WELL:
Now, here are two examples of taking a strong hand in the matter of personal branding. When such issues DO matter, we can NOT afford to slip. We've got to do what it takes to both earn and influence brands for our organizations. We've got to be truly worthy of the excellent image and reputation we desire, and we have to work efficiently and effectively to influence these brands, as well.
Example: PERSONAL BRAND
My company was founded by an engineer. Today, our leader is an engineer. In the intervening 75 years, we've been adding engineers to our staff like crazy. Today, our R&D, tech support, marketing, product management, and sales teams are full of engineers. We've truly earned the right to be known as a capable engineering-based organization. But we aren't leaving that to chance. We're also helping our target markets understand and appreciate who we are (we're also reminding ourselves, internally). In addition to partnering with customers and cosuppliers on engineering projects, in addition to designing and producing leading-edge products, in addition to chairing industry technical events, in addition to authoring and delivering engineering-based technical papers, we also remind people in "interesting" ways, like this flash bio for one of our product line managers:
Example: PRODUCT BRAND
Who said we can't attempt to make our PRODUCTS stars? Same story as above (change the words a bit), but it's all about a product:
As I've said countless times, "We don't get paid to be average". I bet you don't, either.