Has Success Broken Your Brand Message?


Congratulations, your business is growing! Condolences, your core message now officially makes no sense!

I’ve succeeded, and I’ve failed – and success is better! Yet business growth, the most positive of changes, is ironically the one most likely to turn your company positioning into gobbledygook.

How BlueCore's CEO updated brand messaging to capitalize on success

Tech startups, for example, usually start with a few people and a singular product vision. They strive to do one new, unique or disruptive thing really well. Of course, even a great product can fail due to unclear messaging, but that’s a different article. This one is about the unintended consequences of growth for your brand and how to deal with them.

Few companies continue to grow by doing exactly the same things as when they started. Success brings hard tradeoffs between new opportunities and sharp focus. Growth brings expansion into new markets. Growth brings more products vying for attention, more customers pulling the company in different directions, and more salespeople meeting quota any way they can. All of these are wonderful. Taken together, though, they can diffuse messaging focus and confuse both employees and customers about what the company really stands for.

Take the case of Inc. 500 startup BlueCore, which rebranded and renamed after rapidly outgrowing its single-product origins. That very expansion made it more difficult to explain the company’s offerings.

“As a product-focused company, we added many new capabilities beyond email,” says CEO Fayez Mahamood. “About two years ago, we realized we had lost the crispness of our original messaging, but we still needed to convey the power of the advanced platform. We realized we needed to sit down with someone like Jeffrey, who could help us communicate all of that without complicating the message.”

BlueCore has a track record any company could envy. They’ve had rapid growth, successful fundraising and a client list of household-name retailers. It was not struggle or turnaround that provoked this company or many of my other clients to undertake a “Message Makeover.” It was success!

Why does keeping your messaging current matter so much? Companies typically don’t pursue growth and success only to get to a certain point and then stop. You’ve refreshed your product set, strengthened your technology and expanded your team, all to set yourself up for the next stage of growth. Your brand message – the short, sharp declaration of your value and right to exist in the market – is another essential piece of company infrastructure. When critical infrastructure wears out, companies fix it or suffer the consequences.

Want new customers? Your brand message is what drives all marketing and connects or fails to connect customers to you. However, that’s just the beginning of your brand message’s importance. Seeking investment? VCs judge your business on the clarity and brevity of your pitch. Want to attract the best talent? The strongest candidates have the most options. So, they need to find your value prop clear and compelling. Do you want your employees all pulling together? Your core message is what unites them in a common cause.

Some companies do manage to keep growing without needing a messaging makeover. The smartest ones, though, perform a periodic “message audit,” to ensure that their brand message remains clear, compelling and consistent with who they are today and want to be tomorrow.

What about your business? Have you outgrown the brand story that got you this far? Has growth made it harder to clearly describe what you do to customers, investors, and perhaps even your own team? If the story of your business hasn’t kept up with the business, it’s time for an update.