Developing Your Brand Story
Brand stories run so much deeper than logos, color pallets and packaging. They run deeper than your company bio or even your mission statement.
The truth is, your brand story is not what you think it is at all. It’s also more important than you realize.
To develop a strong and effective brand story, you first must understand what a brand story is. And what it isn’t.
Your brand story is:
- An absorbing read about the collection of experiences and knowledge that come together to bring value to the marketplace
- The essence of your company – the heart of the creation and maturation – the why and how it came to be
- About a solution for problems it solves that your customer base is experiencing
- The reason your team is motivated to work every single day
- About the evolution and expansion of your team, products and business
- All about the types of consumers that find value in working with your Brand and why
- A view into the people behind the company
- What your team values and stands for collectively
- Your legacy
Your Brand story is NOT:
- A long-winded essay
- Separate and distinct from how you operate and communicate daily
- A fragmented view of your company
- A tool to manipulate customers and prospects
- Marketing material, ad copy or a sales pitch
The most important thing to remember is that your Brand story is not actually about your or your company at all.
It’s about your customers.
It’s about the value your customers receive from your content, resources and products/services. It’s about their experience doing business with you. It’s about what they can count on from your products/services.
Study and understand what they’re saying about you. Identify patterns. Internalize the insights and the vocabulary used and meld them into your Brand voice and story.
The best and most powerful Brand stories prioritise the customers first and consider the company a supporting player in the story.
Think about how you would describe your brand story to a friend over coffee or a glass of wine. Stop trying to sell your product. Capture the value you bring to consumers and tell the story in a way that builds human interest.
Your Brand story is subtler than what your company is saying in any given article or post – it’s not any one message – it’s the entire premise behind the company – the entire reason for your existence. It’s how you say things, how you problem solve, how you serve customers and it’s also WHY you do it.
If you don’t know your why inside and out, you can’t expect your audience to know or care about it.
To tie it all together your brand story is about your customer and their needs and the value they receive. The why behind everything is conveyed through a thoughtful and moving story of your mission/goals/offerings.
Your tone, language and style should evolve naturally and will be most effective if you truly know your audience.
- Your Brand story is not medium or channel dependent. Your story should be almost audible in the content you create, from Blog posts, customer support docs, videos, articles, whitepapers, site pages, graphics, social media channels, website pages and more.
- Your brand story is about connecting with humans. It’s about moving an audience to action. It’s about showing that audience why your company holds the answers they are looking for. I’ve heard the excuses – “but I’m B2B” and “My audience is c-suite” and “we are talking enterprise sales here”. In almost hushed reverent tones these statements are made. My response? They are still just human beings looking to solve a problem. Yes, tailor the tone and style to the audience but again, that should come naturally in your process.
- Tell a story and connect with the reader, your goal is to make an impact on your audience. To be memorable. To generate trust.
- Your Brand story is more than what you say explicitly. It’s HOW you communicate and connect with your target audiences. It’s the images and the feelings that you evoke.
- Tell your story in such a way that it tells your customers “we relate to you”, “we understand you”, “we value you” and “we are like you”.
It’s easy for me to sit here and define a brand story but how do you take this information and distill it into a process that works for you and allows you to produce a masterful brand story?
There is no magic fairy dust. You have to do the work. It’s worth it though.
It helps if you are well versed in storytelling as a medium for engaging and compelling your audience.
Not well versed? That’s OK. You can still take a stab at it. Authenticity is more important than perfect word-smithing.
Let’s start at the beginning and walk through your process:
Familiarise yourself with these 7 important areas.
Jot some notes about what your site visitors should hope to accomplish when visiting your site, reading your content or interacting with your social media.
Who do you expect to be engaging with your site and content?
What do you want your audiences to feel after interacting with your content?
What emotions should come across after somebody reads your content?
Do you want your writers to communicate in the first, second, or third person? Who is telling the story?
Should the language be conversational, formal, or somewhere in between?
Who are YOUR players?
- Your customer and their needs:
- Your mission/goals/offerings:
NOTE: For number 2, look at the real value you offer, keep digging deeper until you get to the bottom line benefit.
Now keep that in mind and move on to the next step.
Every story has 3 major components. As it relates to your Brand story, the components are:
Beginning: Problem. Explain the problem that you set out to solve.
Middle: Solution. Describe how you solved it.
End: Success. Get excited about the success produced, describe what it looks like, what it sounds like, what it feels like – what it tastes like. Engage the senses of your audience. Let them experience what it will feel like to use your product/service to solve their problem.
Not sure about your three components?
Try talking about your company out loud, think about what excites you and what frustrates you and think about why you got started. Record yourself. When you play it back, most often you will capture the heart of what you need to there. Then you simply massage the message to make it persuasive and ensure it appeals to the emotions of your audience.
If you craft the story based on the simple 3-part model and are authentic in the details, you will have a pretty good Brand story.
Here is the test. Customers should buy a part of the story, not just a product/service. Meaning they should read your story and want that. They should feel that it’s about more than shoes or legal services or tax prep.
Your Brand story will start as a living document that gets tweaked and fine tuned until it becomes engrained in every brain on your team and is visible in all content, graphics and product/service experiences.