By Greg Berube, February 25, 2012.

One of the biggest opportunities any business will have is being clear to the marketplace about who you are and what you do. Unfortunately many organizations try to be everything to everyone – and by doing so, leaving customers wondering – and dollars on the table in lost revenues.

In this fast paced “customer first” world, you cannot afford to let people wonder – uncertainties will lead to lack of confidence – why would you let the marketplace determine your Brand message?

These are big steps – but very important, first decide who you really are as a business. What makes you different from other businesses in your industry? If you look at some of the most iconic businesses on the globe, they send a clear message about what makes them different and what sets them apart. Once you decide what makes you different, your entire brand should be focused around this message.

Through this process, most people usually jump to the creative development component, actually this process comes much lower down the list – your message needs to be number one!

Before you develop your brand message, you have to assess your business, how it operates and the messages that you want to — and are able to — deliver.

1. Work out your business, product or service’s core competencies. (These are what you achieve for your customer, not necessarily what you do.) Remember, sell the experience and the brand will follow.

2. Assess whom your existing and potential customers are, and find out what they like and what they don’t. Allowing people entry points with the brand message will convert people to becoming “brand carriers”.

3. Find out how your customers and your employees understand your business. Reliable? Caring? Cheap? Expensive? Luxurious? No-frills?  These – emotional responses are important.

4. Define how favorably customers and potential customers view your business — this is your perceived Value. Do they trust your business, product or service? Do they know exactly what it does for them? What do they think of when your brand is mentioned to them? Low perceived value could restrict or damage your business. High-perceived quality gives you a platform to grow.

5. Consider how far you can develop your business with its current customer perception without moving away from your core competencies. The amount you can change is your brand “elasticity”. A positive brand message that connects with consumers will have a great deal of elasticity – allowing for brand growth.

Keep your people involved with your brand. More than anything else, your employees will be responsible for delivering on the Brand message. Make sure that everyone believes in it and lives it.  Pay attention to any suggestions that may improve the delivery of the brand message.

Delivering your brand message— and doing it better than your customer expects will strengthen your brand. Failing to deliver a brand message just once will damage your brand and result in lost revenues.