You know the story. When two or more entrepreneurial businesspeople source a new concept and decide they want to launch it together, they start a company. When it comes to naming it, there can be some back and forth, but eventually a name is decided upon. Next a logo and a tagline are developed, followed by a unique value proposition. As the business grows it becomes more than a name, it evolves into a brand. In the home and building PR channel, our brand is our promise. It’s our personality and reputation. It’s how we do business, how we come across on the phone, online or in a conference room. It’s even how our employees behave in their “free” time.
Your logo, employees, activities, press releases, web site copy, tagline and tweets are all parts of your company’s personality that conveys a consistent message. Your brand/persona become words to live by in order for their messages to receive merit. Are you working on a pitch that communicates exactly who you are as a brand, and who you aspire to be? You can create a brand promise, illustrated with a pitch that uniquely and succinctly portrays your brand in the marketplace. Few companies can say they are the newest, oldest, or best in class… however, with a heavy dose of ingenuity and some of that entrepreneurial spirit — it is possible to create a brand that resonates and competes.
Need evidence? Take Avis the car rental company; it was widely acknowledged that at the time Hertz was the leading car rental company and Avis knew it. However, rather then spending money on overtaking Hertz, they embraced their position as second best. The slogan “We try harder” represented their commitment to giving the best service possible, because they couldn’t afford not too. And, of course, there is the famous slogan, “the line at our counter is shorter”. Both are simple, but they portray the desire to serve each individual to the best of their abilities, rather then seeing everyone as just another customer.

Is Just Having a Brand Enough?

Many companies can, quite easily, describe their brand and what it stands for.  These descriptions, however, can become too long to be effective.  Is it possible to describe your brand in less than a minute? What about 30 seconds? In a post discussing the importance of keeping your “elevator pitch” short and sweet, Michael Gass provides a few tips for selling your most valuable assets here. I gave my two cents a couple months ago when asked to be a guest blogger on 1-to-1 Media. Here’s my take on the challenge: 

The Right Elevator Pitch Gives Your Brand a Lift

The average elevator ride is 30 seconds. Even in the Empire State Building, it is possible to ride from the lobby to the 80th floor in 45 seconds. That’s plenty of time to send a quick message on your iPhone or finish half of an overpriced, nonfat, no whip, and caramel latte. But, is it enough time to deliver a strong, concise brand pitch to a potential business partner? It should be.
Whether you’re trying to promote your brand, interest a customer in your services, or grab the attention of a reporter, having a strong elevator pitch is critical to a company’s success. Like its name implies, an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time it takes to share an elevator ride with a prospect. For this reason it’s important to not think of your pitch as a traditional speech resulting in a signed contract and round of applause. Instead, it serves as an engaging jumpstart for an ongoing dialogue of indefinite length. Then, the quality of your compelling content can close the deal for you.
Below are five tips for creating an effective elevator hook:

  1. Include the three pitch essentials:
    It must contain the benefit that is most important to your audience, be specifically tailored to meet the needs and solve the pain points for your audience, and contain emotional appeal; since emotion is often remembered even when intellectual information and facts have been forgotten.
  2. Determine your unique selling proposition:
    Competition is inevitable for every company. Separating your brand from the pack is what creates the bulk of the hook. “I own a marketing company” doesn’t hold a candle to “I own a marketing company that has more than 20 years of proven success in positioning home building and remodeling products as industry leaders.” Don’t be afraid to let them know how and why you are different, and why your unique capabilities will turn into an opportunity for them.
  3. Embrace simplicity: 
    Avoid the Walt Whitman approach to writing and keep it simple. Time is precious, both yours and your audience’s, so respect that and only hit the highlights.
  4. Keep it fresh: 
    Even after the perfect pitch is developed, your job is not over. Savvy businesses grow and change, and your pitch must follow suit. As your audience’s needs and expectations change, make sure you change the way you speak about your business. The language of your pitch, your approach, and what you choose to highlight for a particular audience must change over time.
  5. Practice makes perfect:
    The perfect concise, emotional, unique, and simple pitch is created. Congratulations! Now it’s time to practice it. Distribute the pitch to your entire team. It’s a great brand refresher for everyone. Since each pitch should be unique, memorizing the pitch is often not the best approach, but knowing the key messages inside and out ensures brand consistency and effectiveness.

This form of pitch is an ace in your pocket, and one of the most versatile messaging tools a company can have. Next time you find yourself in an elevator with a prospective client, instead of passing the time idling, you will be ready.
What does your company stand for, and how are its messages carried out? Share your thoughts here, or tweet me @stevekleber.