It’s all well and good for us to talk about having a strong brand story. But that’s only part of the “story” (pardon the pun).
Whether you are a one-person consulting business or a 1000 employee technology player, there are 3 phases to brand “storyhood” that must all be addressed in order to have real market impact – from hiring the right people to attracting the right customers or clients:
Define: Sure, everyone who works here “knows” your quirky brand personality or strong values, right? Wrong. If your brand story is simply a wispy tale that only old-timers will understand – or worse, simply lives in the minds of the founders – you are lost before you even begin. How can you expect the market to know your story if YOU don’t even know your story? What is it? Have you defined your brand strategy? Have you nailed down the most important points, stories and practices that make up your business’ DNA? If you talk to different people across the organization, will you get a different answer? And don’t forget the one answer that makes cringe: “Well, I don’t know…it’s kind of hard to explain. You just know it when you see it.”
If you can’t define your story, how can you expect your customers or clients to do so? You know your business best. Define your brand position internally: What are we about, what makes us tick? What is our vibe? Who are we talking to? Where do we fit in the competitive landscape? Button this down for yourself or your internal team before moving on to Step 2…
Articulate: Now that you’ve hashed it all out, pulled it apart, examined it from all angles, gathered the stories, emotions and benefits that make you special, you have to WRITE IT DOWN. Articulating the brand story is where most businesses fall down. It’s not enough for you to know your own story if you can’t give the market words to describe it. What is the mission and vision? What are you value statements? What is the tone of your copy? Which benefits will we tout over and over that we want to own in the marketplace? Bring in a talented copywriter if words are not your thing because you must choose your words wisely. Words matter. What is the script you want others to say? Wal-Mart is about low prices. Nordstrom is about exquisite customer service. Virgin America is just wonderful, hip, cool and cheeky. ASPCA is a voice for abused and neglected animals. Tom’s Shoes gives a pair of shoes to kids in need when you buy a pair.
Share: Now that you’ve defined who you are and articulated the story, are you just going to pat yourselves on the back and adjourn the meeting? Heck no. It’s time to share the story – internally first. Are you sharing this story with every single functional area such as HR, Finance, Customer Support so they can apply the story to their own everyday actions? Does HR know the brand story so they can hire the right people who will support it? Does everyone in marketing know the story so they can make smart campaign decisions? Does sales know the story so they can pitch to the right prospects about the right value? Build your brand equity from the inside out. Once everyone inside understands the brand story, then you can better share it with the outside world to generate leads, serve customers and differentiate from the competition.
Define, Articulate, Share: You must go through these 3 steps to make your brand bloom (Tweet this!)
Image credit: GotoVan via Flickr