Turn your story into your brand
A great storyteller wows his audience, weaving words together like a tapestry to create vivid images in the minds of listeners. Knows when to bring in other characters or supporting pieces to bring the story to life. A great storyteller is credible, in a way simply because he probably has a great story to tell; color in every detail and choose every word to pique the listener’s interest.
When it comes to your story, how cool is it? If you travel in an elevator and you only have four floors to explain what you do, can you do it? If you are in a mixer business, is your “story” conveyed in the same way as in the elevator? If you are a presenter at a conference, how do you share your story in a short introduction or program overview?
If it is your business that you are talking about, then you are the storyteller and your brand is the story. What impression do you make on your captive audience? Are you weaving that colorful painting or just reciting the same old line?
According to Scott Bedbury, former chief marketing officer for Nike and Starbucks, “A brand is a metaphorical story that … connects to something very deep: a fundamental human appreciation of mythology … Companies that manifest this sensitivity … invoke something very powerful. “
That “something is emotion. Be it a feeling of security and confidence or the thrill of unknown possibilities, big brands have the ability to reach the hearts of customers. Companies can offer superior products and services or super competitive prices, but the most Loyal customers will accept the story of the brand, especially if they feel they can be part of the story.
So how do you know if your story is resonating with your customers so that they make a connection to your brand and who you are as a business? What steps can you take to refine your brand and company message to differentiate yourself from the competition? Here are some ideas to get started:
– KISS: Keep it simple, stupid! There is a natural appeal to getting super creative when developing a brand identity and message, but if the message is not straightforward, it will fall short: your customers just won’t “get it” and they won’t be able to find an emotional connection. Think about your choice of words, tone, and style. Keep it simple and straightforward. Don’t leave your customers guessing what your brand is. Make the vision very clear.
– Develop a positioning statement: What do you stand for? What are your core values? Why should a customer choose you over a competitor’s VAR? Think about your value proposition and then analyze the story of how it became a reality in your business. Chances are there are some good nuggets and a “aha” moment that will allow you to delve into the core of what your business is and what it stands for.
– Once you tell your story, make sure you live it and breathe it: OK, that sounds pretty simple, right? But if you tell your clients and prospects how you differ from the rest, you better be prepared to prove it, time and time again. Because your story must be solid and infallible. And everyone who works for you must also believe in the story. It has to be ingrained in your employees so that they all tell the exact same story. Be consistent in your message, not just in an ad or email, but in how you think and do things every day.
– Spread the Good Word: Consistently use your story and your message in everything you believe. Incessant repetition (and keeping the promises of the message) will reinforce your brand, positioning you as a leader and resource.
It’s fun to tell stories and even better to listen to them. Best-selling authors or award-winning musicians don’t just sit back and write an entire novel or lyrics to a song. They take calculated steps to develop and tell a particular story, usually one that is very close to the heart. Your story should be no different. Your brand depends on it.