October 31, 2011

Elevator pitch vs. brand narrative – know the urgent difference

Here’s the simple (but profound) difference between an elevator pitch and a brand narrative:

Your elevator pitch is what you say to a prospect to explain your brand.
Your brand narrative is what your prospects say about you.

Every individual on your team should know – even memorize – your elevator pitch. The first audience for branding is always internal. You can and should control this. It’s essential, of course, that it be true, and not a delusion. If the sales force or the guys on the loading dock don’t believe it, it will shred into pieces over time.

Your elevator pitch is important

Can everyone in your company answer this well?

Your brand narrative, on the other hand, you hope to influence, but you can’t dictate it. Prospects are influenced by your visibility, your differentiation as they understand it, your reputation, your social media presence, your logo, your advertising, your shoeshine, your lobby furniture, and on and on. The collective perception is their reality.

Since both take less time than an elevator ride, people tend to confuse the two. The pitch, however, is aspirational and often includes two tablespoons of wishful thinking, but the narrative is a reality.

Knowing what your customers think, and why, is relatively easy. Knowing what your prospects perceive, and why, is hard work, requiring research, creative listening and insight.

Only then can you move the evolution of the narrative from
“I know that brand” to
“I like it” to
“I need it” to
“I have to own it” to
“I’m glad I bought it and you would be, too.”

Our role? Well, we like to hear, and help you rewrite, your elevator pitch, but our real value is improving your brand narrative to higher and higher levels. We’ve done this for teams in every category and of every size, from Fortune 100 to startups. How can we help you?