How do you go about discovering your company’s why? Here are 6 steps to get you started.
I’m guessing you might know Simon Sinek and his arguments on why you should start with “the why”. If not, I highly recommend checking out his TED Talk. My experience is that most of us agree with Sinek, we understand what he is saying, but many find it hard to know how and where to start. Here are 6 steps to get you started on this crucial work that when done right, results in revenue-streams you never thought possible.
Most organizations have an idea of what they want to do, and how they are going to do it. Whether you are a startup with defined USPs, or an established business with a declining market forcing you to look for new business opportunities, all companies need to know what the next steps in the organization will be. Which problems are you going to solve? For who? And how are you planning to do it?
Step 1: Start with exactly that: What are you going to do, and how are you going to do it?
This is your product. Ask yourself questions like what you are selling and how you are going to sell it. Are you going to provide something better than what’s already on the market? Or an entirely new product or service? Whatever it is you are going to offer to the world, it has to be clear and you need to know how you are going to offer it. If you spend some time working on these two questions you can come up with strong arguments – and if you’re stuck you could always have someone you trust challenge you with questions until it becomes clear. The combination of your product or service and how you are going to offer it to the world is your USP (or USPs – there might be several things that distinguish you from what’s already in the market). USP is your Unique Selling Points (or Proposition).
Step 2: There is another how
When you know what your product or service is and how you are going to offer it, you should figure out how you are going to do it in your unique way. Say you are going to offer insurance-products and the technology is how you are going to make it available – “the how” we’re discussing here is connected to the experience you want your customer to have when doing business with you. Do you want them to feel well taken care of? Or do you want them to feel they are doing business with the most modern insurance-company on your market? Or maybe safety, trust and transparency are values that are important to you and your business? Decide which values should your company culture be built on. I think 3 company values is a pretty good number.
Step 3: Creating your vision
What new reality is it that do you want to contribute to? Your vision should be aspirational and not a specific goal you are likely to reach within a short time limit. Visions are mapping out a new desirable reality, and the reality should impact people and the planet in a profoundly positive way. Could your insurance products contribute to more trust by being radically transparent? Could your products be tools for better society in any way? Could your revenue-streams contribute back to society in a valuable way? How could you create more value for your customers or for other stakeholders? Remember to keep the questions going until you know you’re on the right track, and then try to come up with a short sentence that triggers you, and that is aligned with your product, business-model and values. Check out examples from other companies, like TED’s “Ideas worth spreading”, Netflix’ “Becoming the best global entertainment distribution service” or Nike’s purpose-statement: “Our purpose is to move the world through the power of sport – breaking barriers and building community to change the game for all. If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Think of brands you love and go look for inspiration!
Step 4: Defining at least one persona
A Persona is “a typical customer” from your main target group. If you sell insurance products through new and great technology, you might want to consider if that new technology is aimed at senior citizens who have a hard time with technology, or if young families who desire simplicity are a better fit? Ask questions like: who would benefit most from your solution and product? Who is more likely to do business with you? Where does he or she live and how do they work? Do they have children, do they travel a lot? Are they interested in insurance, or perhaps they’re not, they just need someone they trust to take care of it for them? When you’ve come up with the persona you can tweak the previous points. Could you improve your USPs or tweak your values to fit your target group even better?
Step 5: Getting your message across
Now you know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and who you are first and foremost doing it for. Now is a good time to work on your message strategy. Which channels are your personas on, and how do they like to be addressed? How you communicate, whether it’s internally or externally, to customers or in the media is often known as Tone of Voice. Make sure your tone of voice reflects your company values and culture you want to build.
Step 6: Write your brand story
The brand story is based on previous points, and when done correctly it could be your elevator pitch. It may also be the first touchpoint with customers, talents and other stakeholders, and the first step to an emotional connection to your brand. It’s important to build your brand story around your customers, but it should also be desirable to all your employees – meaning they should love to tell it! Always make your customer the hero(es) of your story, telling how they are the hero and how your organization is the guide and solution to a better life, and a better future.
So these are the 6 steps that will form your strategy and communication platform and build a strong brand. If you stay true to it and let everything you do be guided by your strategy, you will be rewarded with loyal customers and stakeholders who love you. But just like in our private lives, building strong relationships takes time, it is long term hard work – and it’s incredibly rewarding for all businesses that dedicate themselves to it.
I wish you lots of luck and let me know if you need any help getting started building your strong brand!