The No.1 Marketing Mistake: An Undefined Brand is Unshareable

“Nothing seems more obvious to me that a product or service only becomes a brand when it is imbued with profound values that translate into fact.” – Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group

From F500s to startups, we see brands of all sizes and across all industries make the same critical mistake: They don’t know who they are.

As Simon Senek says, most organizations know what they do, but very few know why they do it. In fact, according to Deloitte’s 2013 Core Beliefs & Culture survey, 54% say their company’s purpose is not clearly conveyed to all employees. If you can’t articulate your own company’s values and purpose, imagine how difficult it is for your customers to understand or want to join in and help you. While customers may like a particular product or service, they can’t talk about it well across their own social media channels because they simply don’t know what your company stands for as a whole.

To fix this problem, make sure you can answer these 3 questions:

  • Why does your company exist? Why did you start your company? Who was it built to serve? In short, what is its purpose?
  • What are you the only one of? What makes your company different? What do people at your company understand that no one else does?
  • When you’re at your best, what are you doing? What does your company look like in action? And if you had to distill your brand’s purpose down into one phrase or idea that you could “own” (distinct from your competitors), what would it be? (For example: unlocking human potential, scaling social change, inspiring innovation.)

Remember: An undefined brand is unshareable. Unfortunately, too many companies rush past telling what they stand for and get lost in all the specific marketing tactics (PPC, Facebook ads, email blasts, etc). But your first concern must always be to make sure you’re sharing a story worth telling. Once you’ve clearly defined your brand’s purpose, you need to frame it in the context of the customer and how, together, you can change the world.


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