The One Marketing Tool You Must Get Right
As most marketing and business leaders know, there’s a lot that goes into developing a compelling brand and building successful marketing programs. For those that have built dynamic organizations in the past, you know that success requires some type of catalyst, a lot of hard work, and an integrated blend of branding and marketing initiatives all working in unison toward a common goal. This is all fairly well-known. But for many, the biggest challenge is uncovering the spark that causes it all to catch fire.
Well, what if there was one initiative or asset that you could rely on, above all others, to make game changing improvements across a broad spectrum of situations – transforming a brand, launching a new website, altering your message, kicking off a new business line, adjusting your marketing mix, improving demand generation campaigns, increasing close ratios, and ultimately growing revenues?
THERE IS. A COMPELLING BRAND STORY
In this article, we’re going to describe our definition of a good brand story and share why creating a brand story or narrative is the one thing you should get right. Lastly, we’ll touch on how you can go about creating a game-changing brand narrative for your company.
WHAT IS A BRAND STORY?
An ideal brand story is a narrative that, whether communicated in its entirety or distilled down to an elevator pitch or high-level messaging, captivates and resonates with its audience instantly, because the context of the story is fundamentally important to them.
In today’s business environment, competitive forces are so strong that people are conditioned to ignore anything that is confusing, irrelevant, or doesn’t instantly make sense. That’s why it’s critical that a brand story be immediately recognizable to its intended audience, with attributes such as a stated problem, a consequence for failure, and an aspirational view of future success. Studies show that when those recognizable elements are in place, people are more attentive and influenceable in a conversation, during a pitch, when consuming marketing collateral, and even through conceptual messaging.
Perhaps most important, a good brand story needs to introduce a company’s products or services in the context of how your customers view and navigate their own problems and opportunities. Without a story being framed from the end-customer’s perspective, it creates undue risk that the audience won’t connect with the story, and furthermore, won’t connect with future messaging, branding, and marketing efforts; irrespective of whether there’s alignment across all communication.
WHY IS A BRAND STORY SO IMPORTANT?
We’ve already talked about the external benefits of your customers connecting and engaging in deep and meaningful ways, but there a couple of other internal reasons why a compelling Brand Story is so critical:
- Set Direction: When key business leaders take time to establish consensus around a detailed, repeatable brand narrative, they set an authoritative platform and a level of clarity and accountability for all internal and external communications (verbal, textual, visual) to follow.
- System Alignment: When the Brand Story becomes the foundation of your elevator pitch, high-level messaging, website structure, marketing assets, outreach campaigns, sales, and even delivery process, a cohesive, integrated system is formed that positions companies for expansive growth.
When your Brand Story is communicated through the context of your customers problems and opportunities, and when it gives them a plan for a new level of success through the context of your of your involvement, customers will follow your lead. And when your entire organization is built to make that story be true, you will give your customers a transformative experience that will define your brand and ultimately your share in the market. If you want to increase the chances that your brand takes off, and your marketing programs are maximized, create and maintain a compelling brand story. And make sure everyone knows it and communicates it through everything they do on behalf of the company.
HOW TO USE A BRAND STORY
From our experience, there are several ways to leverage a great brand story in a direct fashion. This plays out most often when there’s a captive audience that’s motivated to, and/or benefits from, understanding the complete picture of what your company does and how that impacts their lives. Examples of direct ways to leverage the full story include:
- Onboarding new hires
- Changing culture
- Writing comprehensive collateral pieces that outline your differentiation
- Direct sales and marketing efforts
- A corporate video
- Big picture corporate and/or marketing presentations
In addition to direct ways to leverage the story, indirect benefits are a fundamental reason why building a brand story is so important. Indirect benefits include:
- Distilling the most essential aspects of the story down to an elevator pitch that everyone in the organization knows and understands.
- Further reducing the pitch down to high-level messaging (headlines & taglines) that convey core concepts from the Brand Story.
- Creating and aligning visual and image-based elements that support the story.
- Building marketing assets, campaigns, and initiatives that tell and support the story in consistent, compelling, and integrated ways.
- Creating internal branding, marketing, sales, and delivery systems that enhance the story and create your overall customer experience.
Companies that maximize the impact in their respective markets start with a good Brand Story as the foundation of all communication, and then take the time to extend that story from the inside out.
HOW TO CREATE A BRAND STORY
Our belief in the value of a good Brand Story is so strong that we’ve perfected a process that helps our clients create a compelling brand story within the context of every key marketing initiative that we do. We call it our DW7 process, and we leverage it both as a valuable tool within key projects and as a stand-alone service. The process includes a 7-step, formulaic approach that is designed to build a story that perfectly aligns your customers’ needs with your business aspirations. The process includes a small discovery phase followed by a collaborative engagement that typically takes a couple of weeks to complete.
To start, we ask each client to help us understand key company and project cornerstones so we can get a foundational understanding of where your company wants to go. We also ask clients to be open to being challenged on aspects of how the current brand is perceived and interacts with the market. Lastly, we ask each client to fully-engage in all aspects of our proven approach.
When companies take the time to follow our lead on this formulaic process, they greatly increase the chances that their branding and marketing initiatives are successful, and they limit the risk of engaging or iterating on initiatives that don’t maximize their potential.
From our experience, creating and maintaining an updated brand story should be the foundation of all branding and communication strategies; and if done well, can be the single greatest catalyst to help businesses transform from where they are today to where they need to be tomorrow.