May 21, 2021

Seven Steps to Getting Organizational Identity Right


Why do many organizations fail to articulate their purpose effectively? There are lots of potential reasons, but the most common is that they fail to follow a proven process to understand themselves, their organizational ethos, and belief system. Instead, they simply jump right into marketing, messaging, and design elements, completely missing the larger point. Your organizational identity is much more than that.

Here is a trusted process that we follow to help organizations better identify, understand, and communicate their identity. There are seven simple steps clarifying identity using an inside-out process, meaning that it starts inside the organization and moves to external messaging. Remember, if you don’t know who you are, it is impossible to communicate your identity to others.

Visioning is the most important aspect of any organizational exercise. It all starts with vision, and great visions are long-term, ambitious, and bigger than the organization. It is the answer to why you exist, not what you do.

Great positioning is the result of a strong vision. Positioning is finding that which is singular and differentiating about your organization. And, keep in mind that positioning is competitor-centric.

Strategic planning is the work of creating a three or five year plan that helps operationalize the vision and positioning platform for the current short term chapter of an organization.

Marketing is the art of creating value for the client by turning that vision, position, and plan into a short-term strategic marketing focus. And, keep in mind that value is in the eyes of the beholder, so marketing is a client-centric process.

Branding is the cultural expression of organizational values.

Identity is the visual expression of those values.

Messaging is getting the talk points down.

Try it on for size. Next time your organization is trying to better articulate elements of identity, start with this process. Don’t simply jump to messaging and miss the larger opportunity to better define yourself.

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