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Learning Series: Deciding What Your Program Will Recognize

Learning Series: Deciding What Your Program Will Recognize

Your awards program is a direct reflection of your organization, what you stand for, and what you want the public to know you for. And, while every organization is unique, each falls into one of two categories:

  1. Brand-focused; or
  2. Thought-leader focused

Why does this matter? The answer is simple: what you choose to recognize should align with which of these two categories you fall into. Let’s delve into both in more detail.

What Does it Mean to be Brand-Focused?

If you’re brand focused, you focus on the consumer. Specifically, you have a relationship with your audience because they use your product. This applies to companies that are both product- and service-based.

If you’re brand focused, you choose winners that align with your brand and what you stand for. Most importantly, you’ll want to recognize organizations or entrants who exemplify your brand as an extension of theirs.

If you want to recognize brand-focused entrants, ask yourself what your organization is closely associated with and then how you can recognize those who exemplify the same.

What Does it Mean to be Thought-Leader Focused?

If you’re thought-leader focused, you focus on information in your industry. Specifically, you want to recognize those in your industry who are presenting the most innovative work. While you want to be perceived as a primary thought leader, you want to attract and celebrate others who are doing the same.

If you’re thought-leader focused, you choose winners who you believe to be innovative along similar lines of your own organization. In a way, you’re vetting for the winners and saying to others that you believe these entrants are at the top of the industry alongside your own.

If you want to recognize thought-focused entrants, ask yourself what your organization excels at and then who you can recognize who rises to the same level of success.

Why You Have to Choose Just One Category

There are always organizations that say: “Why do we have to recognize one or the other? Can’t we recognize both?”

Our answer: Yes, but you should do so in separate programs. Dividing them this way makes it simpler for you to organize the program, define clear goals, and delight entrants.

What Will You Recognize?

If you already have a program, chances are you already recognize one or the other and this article has lent additional clarity to your organization. If you’re just getting started, we welcome you to decide which works best and to define your program accordingly.

Either way, it’s always good to reevaluate and restructure your program as you evolve. With this as your guide, you can.

Are you struggling to determine what your program should recognize or want additional guidance? If so, download our free online course Awards 101: The Missing Manual for Awards Professionals here!

Ashley Surinak is the resident OpenWater expert on all things content. From the blog to guides and beyond, you'll find her at every turn in your OpenWater journey.

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