If you and your team can’t quickly, easily, and compellingly explain what your product does and how it can help solve your customer's problems, then you have an identity problem.
Sometimes it is easy to notice, other times not so much. It may be that your sales team isn’t explaining your product in a consistent way, or maybe your customers aren’t responding positively to your brand. Maybe you can feel it affecting your sales conversion, or maybe it flies under the radar.
But however your identity problem manifests itself, one thing is for sure: If your team isn’t aligned to the same story, it’ll lead to confusion and miscommunication both internally and externally. It’s as if you’re a part of a band: No matter how talented of musicians you are, if you are all playing from different sheet music, the song won’t turn out well. Simple as that. Having a great product means nothing if your audience doesn’t understand how it adds value to their lives.
This is the problem that Jill Casey set out to tackle when she joined Renaissance Electronic Services in 2015. She recognized the company’s broken brand identity, and set out to create new positioning, messaging, and brand identity that resonated with the buyer, and a new product marketing team that could activate it.
The path to aligning on the right brand and the right messaging can be a long and difficult one, but it can also be a major differentiator for your business. Jill Casey talked through the brand and positioning refresh process on the Better Product Podcast, but here are a few high-level lessons she mentioned:
If you have an identity problem, you can’t be the only one who sees it.
Redefining who you are and what you do is not an easy road, and even if you manage to forge ahead it’ll be useless if you don’t get other people in the organization on board. Getting internal buy-in from the team means that you need to communicate the value of product marketing and brand in a way that supports what they’re trying to do.
Jill experienced this when explaining brand at Renaissance: someone worried about hiring is going to view brand differently than someone in sales, because it serves a different function for their different jobs. If you explain the problem you’re trying to solve in a way that impacts their work, they’ll have an easier time buying into the process.
If you’re starting from scratch, the team has to believe in where you're going.
Refreshing your messaging and brand identity can lead to a lot of shake-up internally, and that can be intimidating. So, if you’re basically going to scrap everything and start over, you need to build a brand team that believes in where you are going and can see the future you’re creating.
The best way to get your team to see where you’re going is to get them involved in the process. Through the process at Renaissance, Jill learned that you can’t be afraid to let the brainstorms flow and have fun with new ideas. Taking it slow and involving the team will help get internal buy-in and make it easier to roll it out to the rest of the company, because you’ll have evangelists that believe in the project.
Understand your target market, and talk to them the way they want to be talked to.
There’s a popular expression: you’re either selling vitamins or painkillers. You’re either selling a solution to a specific problem, or a “beautiful future” that they can have with your product. This distinction is important because it will impact on how you explain your product to the market.
Jill recognized this challenge at Renaissance: They sell an administrative solution to dentists, but dentists don’t care about the administrative part of their job, they just want to work on teeth. By understanding this and positioning their product around removing that pain, they spoke to their target market the way they wanted to be spoken to.
If you don’t have a clear and compelling identity for your product, you need to refresh. You need to be able to tell the story of your product in a way that resonates with your buyers and helps them see exactly what you can do for them, better than your competitors. Your product could be a game-changer for your target market but without a clear identity, they won’t be able to see that.
Jill Casey recognized this problem when she joined Renaissance Electronic Services and she set out to correct the ship, which led to a company-wide rebrand and a total website overhaul. Telling the right story takes work, but using these lessons will help you down the right path to solving your identity crisis and aligning your story to your customer’s needs.
To hear more about what it takes to solve an identity problem, tune in to Jill's episode of the Better Product Podcast.