As an entrepreneur, no one knows your brand better than you do. And, as you navigate the complex twists and turns of running your own business, you might think that explaining why you love your company and why other people should love it, too, should be a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. To get people excited about your brand, you first need to get them to understand it—and you’re fighting against an average attention span that’s dipped below five minutes for face-to-face conversations, and just a few sentences for writing.
Communicating your brand is an art form. And the first step to it is coming up with messaging that’s relevant, concise, and compelling. Follow these simple steps to identify your key messages and streamline them into a perfect one-liner—and you’ll be able to quickly spark (and hold) the interest of your iPhone-gazing audience.
Your Q&A: Who Are You, Anyway?
The most important questions you should ask yourself when developing your message are the “Who?”, “What?”, “Where?”, and “Why?”—this is the information your audience will need to understand (within seconds) to get why your offering is worth their time.
To get started, write out answers to the following:
- What does your company do?
- What need does it serve?
- How does your company differentiate itself from its competitors?
- Who is your audience? (Hint: sometimes it helps to draft a few “character profiles.” Think about the people you are targeting—what do they do? What do they look like? What need does your brand fill for them?)
- Why is your company relevant to the audience you are targeting?
- What about your company are you most proud of?
Then, think of 2-3 questions you never want a potential investor to ask you—and answer them.
Be sure to be transparent and genuine as you answer these questions, and always bring it back to the positive (especially for those tough questions). Don’t like your answers? Work on them until you’re not only comfortable, but excited. Play with the different character profiles you drafted and see if answering the question “what does your company do?” with each of them in mind shifts any of the language.
While you won’t necessarily show this document to anyone else, it’s a great resource for you—it forces you to get familiar with and streamline the language and phrases you use to explain your brand. It also helps you prepare answers in advance for questions you’ll likely get asked (including the cringe-worthy ones!).
Your Mission Statement: The One-Sentence Story
Once you have all of that language in place, challenge yourself to define your company in just one sentence. Use what you’ve written, and pick out the most important information and some of your favorite words and phrases. And make sure to ditch the jargon! While you want this statement to be written in the voice of your brand, you also want it to be clear, concise, and compelling to anyone who hears it.
For a bit of inspiration, here are a few examples of start-ups with great mission statements:
- Artsicle: “Artsicle is here to help you discover your personal taste in art, from the comfort of your couch.”
- HowAboutWe: “HowAboutWe is the fastest, easiest, most fun way to go on awesome dates.”
- Airbnb: “Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world—online or from a mobile phone.”
Distilling your brand down to just a sentence (or two) will help you keep your message clear, not to mention make it a whole lot easier to get someone else quickly excited about your brand.
Now, with your purpose clear, your answers to those FAQs ready, and a snappy mission statement at the tip of your tongue, there’s just one last step—getting your message out there! Post your mission statement on your website. Tweet it, Facebook it, incorporate it into your LinkedIn profile. And when the next person lifts his gaze from his iPhone long enough to ask you what you do—tell him.