Photo of handshake and quote: Helping organizations better define who they are, what they do, how they do it, and why anyone should care!

Branding Bytes Archives

Issue 35:
Thoughts On Using Social Media

Issue 34:
Reigning in Public-Private Partnerships

Issue 33:
Seven Ways to Avoid Toxicity In the Workplace

Issue 32:
A Few Bad Apples Bruise the Brand

Issue 31:
Branding Beyond the Logo

Issue 30:
The Yin and Yang of Celebrity Leadership

Issue 29:
Want to Raise More Funds? SPEAK UP!

Issue 28:
Government Funding Cuts: Act!

Issue 27:
"We Are Sorry":
Your Brand is Your Behavior

Issue 26:
Tell Your Story

Issue 25:
Good Leaders

Issue 24:
Think "People,"
Not "Organization"

Issue 23:
What's in a Name?
Just about Everything!

Issue 22:
Is Your Mission
Getting Creepy?

Issue 21:
Welcome to the Age
of the New Normal

Issue 20:
"Receptionist" vs Director of First Brand Impressions

Issue 19:
It's Not About How Your Message is Delivered

Issue 18:
When it Comes to Your Brand, Details Matter

Issue 17:
A Good Brand Requires TLC: Just Ask My Wife!

Issue 16:
Toxic-Work-Environment Syndrome Can Tarnish Your Brand

Issue 15:
Adjusting to the
New Face of Need

Issue 14:
Tired of all the Doom and Gloom? This is Your Time!

Issue 13:
A New Year's Resolution: Don't Cut Off Your Nose

Issue 12:
What You Do Is
About All of Us

Issue 11:
Ethical Standards
and Your Organization

Issue 10:
Leadership: Whose Journey is it, Anyway?

Issue 9:
Giving Circles
and Branding

Issue 8:
The World's Richest Men
— and Philanthropy

Issue 7:
What is an External
Brand Audit?

Issue 6:
Keeping Everyone
on Brand Message

Issue 5:
What is an Internal
Brand Audit?

Issue 4:
Turn Board Members into Better Brand Ambassadors

Issue 3:
Leadership, Vision
— and Branding

Issue 2:
What's 1st—Organization or Brand? / Govt. Cuts?—Branding Helps

Issue 1:
Branding Myths

Issue 19, Summer 2010

It's Not About How Your Message is Delivered

I was part of a team conducting a focus group for a large nonprofit client. The focus group comprised representatives from the financial sector, a target audience this particular national nonprofit was most interested in cultivating through its messaging.

One or more of the messages we were about to test had the words "partners" and "partnership" in them, which we thought were no-brainers. After all, they are simple, easy-to-understand words that convey affiliation, cooperation, collaboration, alliance, all the good stuff, right?


As the messages came up for the group's reaction, two bankers immediately raised their hands.

"In our industry, the words 'partners' and 'partnership' are loaded with legal implications," said one. "We don't mind being recognized as 'working together' with the organization, but we'd rather not be identified as 'partners,'" said the other.


Had we allowed our client to go public with the original messages, chances are the impact that they might have had on their intended audience, namely potential financial sector funders, would have been the opposite from what the organization was hoping for.

The lesson learned: It's not about how your message is delivered, but rather how it is received that makes all the difference.

Fact is most organizations shoot from the hip when it comes to talking about themselves. They don't pay enough attention to the messages they send out and often have no idea how those messages are resonating with the very audiences they are seeking to reach.

Gain control over your messages

Gain control over your messaging process by creating a "messaging package", namely by compiling the core messages you want to convey to your target audiences. The purpose of your messaging package is to help everyone affiliated with your organization stay on message.

What follows is a simplified version of how to get started.

Step 1:

Come to internal consensus about what you want to convey about your organization through your messaging. These messages may include your organization's core cultural values, the kinds of programs and services it provides, how it provides them and so forth.

The best way to come to consensus around these messages is to conduct an internal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. The goal of this introspective analysis — which gets best results when conducted by a knowledgeable, objective third party — often goes beyond messaging and allows an organization, perhaps for the first time, to consciously identify and promote its strengths, address is weaknesses, leverage its opportunities and prepare for any threats it may perceive.

Keep in mind that whatever messages come out of this process need to reflect your organization's story, not its fairytale. For example, if one of the strengths you identify is that your organization is a good steward of public funding, make sure that that's the case — without exception!

Step 2:

Conduct external research. Through focus groups, surveys or informal conversations, learn what your target audiences want to know about your organization. Are their current perceptions of who you are and what you do accurate? If not, why not, and how do you need to alter your messages to gain their attention, recognition and understanding?

Step 3:

Draft your messages. Use what you have learned through your internal SWOT analysis and external research to draft a messaging package that contains all the messages you believe are true and accurate about your organization while at the same time will resonate with your target audiences.

Step 4:

Test your messages! Before going public with your messages, be sure to test them. Remember, I may enjoy working with your organization, but I might not appreciate being identified as a partner.

Step 5:

Make sure everyone affiliated with your organization knows what your messaging package contains. The goal of every organization should be "to stay on message." The reason for this is that if everyone affiliated with your organization is sending out different messages, it tends to confuse your audiences. To truly understand who you are and what you do — and why they should support what you do! — they need to receive clear, consistent and concise messages. A messaging package can help you do this. It can also take a lot of the anxiety out of talking about your organization, as well.

As always, I look forward to receiving your feedback, questions, success stories and branding challenges. Also, if you are in need of a motivational speaker, trainer, branding consultant/coach, or management consultant who can help you answer the questions: Who are we? What do we do? How do we do it? And should anyone care? I invite you to for more information.

In the meantime, good luck with your branding! — Larry

About Branding Bytes

Branding Bytes is a FREE quarterly e-newsletter courtesy of Larry Checco of Checco Communications. Please feel free to forward Branding Bytes on to others. However, Branding Bytes is copyrighted and may not be reprinted or reproduced without attributing Larry Checco of Checco Communications as its source and providing the following website address: Thank you.


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