What’s your story? Getting your brand story right
In many of my posts I have talked about the importance of establishing a marketing strategy before embarking on individual marketing activities. When developing your marketing strategy you will identify goals and objectives, target markets and how you will reach your key stakeholders.
A marketing strategy is without a question a critical tool for your business. It will ensure you get the right messages to the right people; but what are the right messages?
Your messages will depend on your audience and why you are communicating with them, but they must link back to your overarching messages and be relevant to your brand.
Essentially you need a brand or ‘positioning’ story.
What is brand?
Often when people think of their brand they immediately think of their ‘logo’ or visual identity. This is only one part of your brand. Brand actually encompasses much much more.
Marketing and business blogger Seth Godin defines brand as the following:
‘A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.’
When people purchase goods or services, they are first connecting with your brand and what it promises. People make purchasing decisions based on emotional connection with brands, what feeling and memories they elicit and what purchasing that brand says about them. Brands must promise an emotional connection and to get people to connect with your brand, you need to articulate it in a story: a story that can be embraced by all of your staff and stakeholders.
You need to create a clear brand or ‘positioning’ story.
The brand or positioning story
Creating a positive positioning is an essential branding tool used for building and managing reputation and awareness of your business.
Positioning tells your business’s story. It gives meaning to your business’s vision purpose, values, strategic plans, priorities and point-of-difference. It secures a position in stakeholders’ and customers’ minds and should speak to their expectations.
The positioning forms the foundation of all communication, providing common direction, meaning and focus. It ensures that internal and external messages are aligned and consistent.
It is important that everyone tells the same story about your business and your messages are consistent. This will build your reputation with your target market, stakeholders or people who are important to your success.
Essentially positioning is your ‘story’ and can be used for presentations, web text, fact sheets, media releases or any other communication. It can be tailored and changed slightly to meet each situation, but the core is always the same story and messages.
An effective positioning is a ‘one page’ story about your business, what it does, what it offers. It should clearly articulate your point-of-difference and ‘what’s in it for me’ for your customers.
Once you have written your one-page positioning story, you need to distil or summarise your story into three key messages.
Key messages are the core messages you want your target market and audience to hear and remember. Key messages allow you to control communication and enhance relationships with your target audiences.
When you develop your key messages keep in mind the critical messages you want to communicate?
Key messages should be limited to three (this makes it easier to remember), with each overarching message supported by facts and examples.
How do we use key messages?
In day-to-day conversation, meetings and written material, you should use your key messages and relevant supporting facts.
All communication tools and touch points, such as media releases, presentations and displays, give you the opportunity to tell your positioning story and use your key messages.
Developing your story
A great way to create an effective brand or positioning story is to get key staff together and hold a brainstorming workshop over a few hours. You can approach the exercise in a similar way to creating a customer persona.
Imagine your brand as a persona and look for overlaps between your brand and customer persona or target market. Use the commonalities to better connect to your persona.
You can ask yourself questions such as:
- What is our strategic vision and purpose, overarching goals and objectives?
- What is our point-of-difference, unique selling point?
- What makes us different or better than our competitors?
- What problems do our customers have that we can help solve?
- What is in it for them (our customers)?
Extend this to develop a real personality for your brand with questions like:
- What is the culture in our organisation? Are we strictly professional? Casual and fun? Driven by innovation?
- If our organisation was a car, what kind of car would we be?
- When people think about our organisation what feelings and associations do we want them to have?
- What are the benefits (tangible and not tangible including emotional benefits) we offer customers?
- How would we like customers to describe us?
- What is our history and credentials?
Once you have answered these questions you can start building your one page positioning story and key messages.
After you have finalised your story and messages, share it with all of your key internal stakeholders so they can embrace the story too.
The test of your brand story
A brand story above all must be realistic. You must be able to deliver the customer experience you claim to deliver. The brand or positioning story must be authentic and embraced by all key stakeholders.
It needs to be implemented right across the business. It will be experienced through visual identity and logos, customer service and experience, marketing and communication materials, stakeholder engagement and employees.
You will know your story is making an impact if your key messages are being reproduced and customer feedback supports your brand interpretation.
Ask yourself whether you can put your hand on your heart and swear that every customer experience and communication touch point is true to your brand story? If not do you need to revise your brand story or address some issues in your business?
Finally consider whether you would like a professional to facilitate your positioning process, create your brand story or edit it. Professional branding and marketing services can take your brand story from good to amazing. They can translate and wordsmith your ideas into persuasive content and sharp messages. Remember, the foundation of successful marketing is getting the right messages to the right people.
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