Ignoring This Five-Letter Word Can Spell Brand Messaging Doom

Want to know the brand messaging mistake that bedevils Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike, again and again?

It’s self-centeredness. Me, me, me. I, I, I. We do this. We provide that. We were established then. Blah, blah, blah.

megaphoneNews flash: Your prospective customers don’t care about you; they care about themselves. They don’t care what you do; they care about what you’ll do for them. They don’t care about your success; they care about how you can make them a success. As well they should.

It’s always curious, then, when a company’s first pass at a brand message is so narcissistic. But it’s also understandable. You’re proud of what you’ve built. You have a great story to tell about how your business was founded, the products and services you introduced, the new markets you’ve penetrated. Good for you. Congratulations. Really. But if I’m your prospect, your Horatio Alger story hasn’t told me anything I care about—namely, what’s in it for me. Or, in five letters, WIIFM.

thSo when you engage in an internal branding brainstorm session, and you’re gathering around the conference table playing whiteboard bingo, consider this: Don’t begin the discussion with questions like “Who are we?” Rather, begin it with “What do we do for our customers? What’s in it for them?” That’s the start of your eventual elevator pitch.

Think you won’t get around to your own story? Think again. If you’re a human being, you’re self-centered by nature. Rest assured, you won’t get too far into your pitch before you start talking about yourself and your company. And that’s all well and good—as long as you start your brand message by talking about the customer instead of yourself.


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