One big thing. That’s the secret of life, according to Jack Palance, who shared the secret with Billy Crystal in City SlickersBut you don’t have to go on a cattle drive to see how that concept could be relevant to understanding your brand and how to communicate it.

The challenge is boiling it down. Understanding the essence of your brand requires an organization to turn the spotlight on itself, which is not always easy. We don’t always like what we see and we often uncover some areas of conflict or disagreement that we’d just as soon avoid. But the process is healthy for any business. So here are some steps to help you get started.

Just the facts
Start by listing the basic facts about the organization. Where are you located? What type of company? How many employees? When were you founded? How are you funded? Do you serve customers or clients?

Brand attributes
What are some words that you use to describe your organization? Words such as innovative, compassionate, accountable, collaborative, flexible… These are the terms you would use to describe your brand personality. If you were describing a friend you might say, funny, charming, friendly, smart. Now how would you describe your business?

What do you do?
We (name of your organization) are ____. Now finish the sentence. 

Boil it down
Next, go back to everything you’ve listed and eliminate anything that sounds too generic or too phony. You are looking for things that differentiate you from your competitors, not things that they would be able to claim as well. For example, a lot of organizations would say they take pride in customer service. What makes you different?

Stake out your turf
Once you boil everything down you should be able to identify the one big thing that clearly identifies your brand. This is what you stand for. It is your brand promise. Now you need to make sure you deliver it every day, every time.  

We’ve led clients through this process many times, and they are almost always amazed at what a difference it makes for their organizations. For example, AORN learned that the one big thing about operating room nurses is that they make surgery safe. The 9Health Fair learned that what they really do is encourage people to “own your health.”  Susan G. Komen Denver realized that the biggest thing they do is save lives by raising awareness about breast cancer.

I am a firm believer in Cowboy PR. Get to the heart of the matter without a lot of bull. The process of understanding your brand’s one big thing is something every organization can benefit from. You can do it yourself or find a PR firm or independent consultant to help you. The important thing is to get started. That’s the secret. No bull. 

Bookmark and Share