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Think you know your company? Think again.

It’s always interesting when a company asks itself who they are and where are they going. It’s even more interesting when it happens at the company where you actually work.

Pravda Media Group (PMG) takes pride in servicing and supporting global B2B companies in achieving their digital marketing business goals. Whether our client is a top industry player that is publicly traded on Nasdaq, such as NICE Systems, or an up-and-coming startup approaching its time to market as with Applitools, we always ask a new client what they do. However, we don’t just ask them what they do. We ask them to fully define themselves. We ask them to address questions like:

  1. What is your corporate vision?
  2. What is your brand promise?
  3. What are your marketing goals for the next 6 months?
  4. What is your service/product’s unique selling point (USP)?
  5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  6. Who is your competition? And why?

The point of these questions is not to offer a mere glimpse into the company, but rather to gain insight into our clients’ real DNA. That way, when we begin to work on supporting and promoting them, we can stay true to their marketing goals, brand promise and messaging in the most authentic and effective manner.

Easy right?

Eating Our Own Dog Food

About six months ago, we decided that our company website needed a revamp. As digital techies, selecting the suitable platform, tech requirements, features, and a designer were all a non-issue. The real issue was what do we want to say? Or rather, is our current brand being expressed with the right messages, both verbally and visually? So we decided to hold an internal messaging and branding session that would allow us to hone in on the essence of our company and its services.

The process involved three half-day workshop sessions that asked our employees some very basic but integral questions about Pravda Media Group. Parts of the workshop were anonymous questions while other parts involved vocally brainstorming, discussing and (sometimes) arguing.

At the time, we had a few newbies in the office amongst some loyal veterans, so it made it all the more interesting to hear the different experiences of each. But we didn’t even have to reach the third session to realize that the results were actually astounding!

Whereas some of us thought that PMG is more about our marketing automation and tech know-how, others placed an emphasis on our marketing offerings and approachable professionalism. There were a lot of “colorful” opinions but at the end of the day, it was essential to identify the key defining aspect of what is our company.

Don’t Cut Corners

Every business should undergo a process of this type at one stage or another. Because the process takes time and doesn’t have a direct relationship to the bottom line, some companies may be tempted to shortcut it. It’s important not to if you want to maximize your results and takeaways. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your branding and messaging workshop.

  • Look at the good and the bad. When identifying the company’s characteristics, don’t get sidestepped by only focusing on the “good” and positive aspects of the company. Remember, this is for internal consumption only! Look for your company’s glitches and weaknesses and discuss how these can assist in solidifying the actual strengths of a business.
  • Look to the employees – not just to the CEO. The CEO’s word is important but often there is a disparity in how the CEO sees the company and how the rest of the team do. A good way to bridge the gap is to have the CEO or upper management absent themselves during part of the sessions. That way, employees will be more inclined to express themselves freely and honestly.
  • Don’t design the cover before you write the book. You wouldn’t let a book’s cover dictate its content. Rather, first you write a book and then create a design based on its substance.The same can be said for a company’s brand. It’s important not to confuse your company’s DNA with its brand. The former represents the core values and nucleus of what your company stands for. The latter is an outward reflection of the personality traits your company embodies. A great brand is where both of these aspects come through in an aligned and inconspicuous fashion. A useful way to differentiate the two is to visually display everybody’s ideas and thoughts on a screen or flip chart. This helps to guide and focus the discussion.

Needless to say, after our conclusions were solidified, the work on our website was much simpler, because we had a basic messaging framework to work with and guide us in all aspects relating to our corporate ID.

Most importantly, our company DNA was strengthened and re-established as the anchor of what we do for ourselves and our clients, each and every day.