By Marc Mann, VP Sales and Marketing, SDLC Partners

Too often, over time, we separate ourselves from our brand. It’s not because of brand erosion, or complacency, but instead, with maturity, it becomes an established product or service.

Choosing to elevate your emotional connection while increasing your customer relevancy will infuse new life into your brand. Once optimized, you and your organization will live and breathe your brand again.

SDLC Partners recently chose this journey of self-revelation. After 14 years of success and growth, SDLC Partners looked to elevate its brand strength by refining its value proposition. First as a consultant, and now as a new member of the SDLC executive team and Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Marc Mann would like to share his journey guiding SDLC Partners through self-revelation as a case study. He’ll provide its process, key directives and insights from their experience, with the hope that it will guide and inspire you to ignite new life into your brand.

The key requirement before you begin the process of self-revelation is deriving a collective focus across your organization, as this must be a key strategic initiative. It cannot be done in isolation. Instead, it needs a diversity of thought, involvement from all organizational levels, and perspectives from all functions. At SDLC Partners, a cross-functional team was established and dedicated to embrace a defined charter supported by top management.

The cross-functional team embarked on this as a six-step process:

Build understanding. Understand your company’s role, offering, benefits and value. It is also just as important to define what you are not. In this first step, you may find gaps in your offering versus the market’s needs, since the market may have shifted or your organization has changed over time. A fundamental requirement to building understanding is to ask how you solve customer problems and what the customer seeks. At SDLC Partners, this analysis opened discussions on service enhancements, innovation and market opportunities.

Define your difference. Distill down your uniqueness and then test it by brutally comparing it to your competition. If you don’t know enough about the competition, reconnaissance may be necessary. It is critical to identify whether your difference is meaningful, sustainable and if it is a competitive advantage. Validate that your unique delivery of value is consistent, dependable and reliable. At SDLC Partners, it took time for our cross-functional team to debate, consider and chew on every word. In the end, it helped ensure relevancy, effectiveness and commitment to our solution. As you develop your value proposition, here are four directives to guide you:

• Be clear

• Be concise

• Be simple

• Be specific

As an example, we launched a new tagline with our revised value proposition: Performance Enabled. For us, “Performance Enabled” is much more than a moniker. Deconstructed, it looks like this:

Performance – Execution excellence and the ability to deliver on promises based on the needs of the client.

Enabled – The certainty, confidence and capability to carry the performance through to a successful completion.

Champion customer experience. Ensure your services fit customers’ needs and demands. At SDLC Partners, we used our own research, customer intercepts and industry insights from Forrester and Gartner as part of our customer discovery. In the end, the delivery of your unique services needs to delight customers. This includes exceeding the experience expected, satisfying expected results and fulfilling benefits they were seeking. This is the point that your brand promise and your brand delivery have uniquely met and that has been achieved for your customers.

Test it. It is vital to learn before you launch your refined value proposition. Here are our criteria that we used at SDLC Partners:

— Adaptable for dynamic change over time

— Believable by all, internally and externally

— Credible with research and results

— Desirable by targeted customers

— Emotional connection and commitment throughout the organization

— Fits with how each employee creates value

Tell your story. Communications internally can be just as important as externally. Often, we don’t share enough with those around us to gain full understanding and commitment. Internally, it must become personal to be compelling. Especially in a service company, everyone must know how they contribute to the company’s value and difference. At SDLC Partners, we took time to simplify the value proposition into a 10-word one-liner that would prompt a question about our company’s difference, starting a relevant and meaningful conversation.

Live it! Adopt and incorporate it in everyday activities and conversations. The value proposition we centered on was true for us, our customers and our market. At SDLC Partners, it centered on what matters and how we ignite value with our difference. We embrace our passion to make a difference for our customers every day. As you elevate your brand, this infused new life will unite your team and rejuvenate your service. 

A great phrase or value proposition representing our organization isn’t just a conference room sign or a PowerPoint slide. It is a comfortable part of our language in casual conversations and a tangible commitment to our unique approach, value creation, and customer satisfaction – inside and outside the organization. It’s how we deliver our brand. In the end, we live it and breathe it.