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When you’re a startup founder, you tend to do a million different things each and every day. All of those little tasks add up to one big message that your brand sends to the world. But simplifying all of those disorganized and often complicated daily tasks into one six or seven word message is tough. When your mind is going a mile a minute, it’s hard to believe that everything your brand does can be summarized in just a few words. Just as mastering your elevator pitch is important, mastering the art of crafting a succinct and simple brand message is vital.
Here are seven steps to simplify your brand’s message for future customers, investors and employees.
Imagine you are writing your brand’s story for a TechCrunch feature. When did you get the idea? How did you validate your idea? When did you launch? Who helped you get to where you are now? Who or what inspires you to be a $1 billion company? The answers to these questions will help you get to know your brand at its roots. Revisit your brand’s background story and its journey so far before you start.
What do you think your brand does for customers? What do you think your employees spend most of their time doing? What do you spend most of your own time doing? Write down everything that comes to mind. From responding to email and attending meetings to creating landing pages and designing ads, record everything you think your brand does in a week. If you want to go the extra mile, ask your team what they spend most of their time doing personally.
Now you have a big, messy list of all the things your brand does in a week’s time. It’s time to pare down the list a bit by determining what tasks are the most important. Ask yourself if your brand would fall apart if you didn’t do that task for a whole week. If the answer is yes, consider it one of the most important tasks.
What are most people associated with the brand spending their time on? Does everyone spend at least a little time collaborating on content creation or online advertising? Make note. The things you spend the most time on as a brand are indicative of the message you’re sending to the world.
Send out a company email asking your employees and partners how they would describe the brand in twenty words or less. Note that this is no longer about what they work on, but what they work towards. Then, ask some of your best customers the same question. After all, they are the ones who know exactly what you do and what value that work provides. Record all of the responses, even the ones you feel are inaccurate.
What you have right now is a big list of the tasks you perform weekly, and some simplified vision statements from your team and customers. You’re getting closer, but it’s a far cry from six or seven words. Look for trends in the vision statements you’ve collected. Are there certain words used repeatedly? Identify the top two or three most common responses. Now, look for unnecessary words so that you can compact the messages into six or seven words each.
The two or three messages you have now are likely missing some action words. When you ask for a vision, you usually get the what and not the how. Use your pared down lists of important and common tasks to give the messages some punch. Specifics help customers understand the practicality of your message. Iterate to be sure that your messages are still only six or seven words each.
Share the results of this process with your team. Which of the final two or three messages do they feel makes the most sense? Ask for iterations as well. How else can the messages be phrased? Are there any unnecessary or inaccurate words? Spend time perfecting your options. When you’re ready, make a decision based on team and customer feedback. In the end, go with your gut. After all, you know your brand better than anyone.
How would you describe your brand in seven words or less?