When you think of strong brands you probably conjure images of Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple, and McDonalds—corporate giants and mainstays of the advertising industry. If you’re just starting out, or you run a small business or nonprofit, you may think your brand doesn’t need that level of intentionality. But we want to convince you otherwise.
No matter how big or small you are, your brand has a story to tell.
It’s the telling and retelling of that story that will ignite interest, buy-in, and loyalty between you and your audience. We want you to not only see but believe that your company or organization has an important story to tell and help you know how to tell it.
1. Start With Strategy
Strong brands are born from strategy. You cannot effectively tell your story, deploy your messages, and expect your audience to buy-in and retell your story if you do not have a strategic marketing plan in place. Many brands make misguided or half-hearted attempts at piecemeal marketing and it shows — with unkept promises and failed results. It’s a complex but extremely important process but you don’t have to go it alone, we would be happy to help you define your brand strategy as a component of your overarching marketing strategy. But until then, here are five fundamentals to get you started:
2. Know Your Why
You stepped out to start your business or nonprofit organization because you have a vision, a mission, and a goal. You believe that you have something meaningful and worthwhile to offer, an idea or a purpose that may even change the world. It’s that depth of conviction and commitment to your “why” that fuels the hard work and dedication it takes to start something important. These details are the essence of your brand and what you promise to your customers or the people you serve.
A clear knowledge of your why leads to clearly communicating your brand promise. This is important because your brand promise becomes the backbone and framework of your strategy. As you flesh out the details, everything hangs on the promise and the why.
3. Know Your Story
Brand is about story. It’s the deep dive into the details that explain why anyone should pay attention to what you’re promising. It’s an epic adventure where you provide the tools that make your customer the hero of their own story, and hinges on your position, perception, personality, and promise to the customer.
Stories make your brand promise sticky and easy for happy customers to loyally tell and retell to their friends.
People care more about experience and how your brand makes them feel so you need to be certain that your story engages your audience’s heart and mind. This is why storytelling works so well, connecting with your customers on an emotional level literally brands their brains with your story and compels them to take action. It’s fascinating work to be sure, and we would love to help your brand tell a great story.
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4. Know Your Voice and Your People
Your brand tells a story in a specific voice and it’s crucial to keep the tone consistent across platforms and vehicles. Remember how we said all of this hinges on strategy? Voice is no exception. Part of the strategic process includes identifying personas—your ideal customers.
When you’re telling your brand story you need to ensure that you are speaking in a way that will resonate with your personas. If not, the people you want to reach won’t hear what you’re trying to tell them.
5. Know Your Vehicles
How you tell your story matters—not just what you say but how you say it. Often, people mistake a logo for a brand, and while the logo is certainly an important part of the brand, it is not the actual story. In a way, your logo is like a book cover and your brand tells the story on the pages in between.
Graphics, videos, written content, and social media are some of the vehicles that help you tell your story but none of these alone are your brand. These are vehicles or tools you leverage to tell you brand story and connect your audience with a promised experience that move them to action.
Ready to Start?
These five elements are just the beginning of the strategic discussions necessary to develop endearing and enduring brands. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we understand. This is a lot to process when you’re running a business and have a million other things on your plate. We’d love to help lighten your load and create a brand strategy that covers all the bases and tells your unique story to the people waiting to hear it.