If you’ve been following along on our brand story journey (and you’re still here), you’ve been convinced of the value of a brand story and learned the framework in part 1, and you’ve reviewed your own Unique Selling Proposition to gather critical information unique to your brand in part 2.
This is part 3 of a 4 part series on How to Tell Your Brand Story:
Part 1: Following the Hero’s Journey
Part 2: Examining your USP
Part 3: Connecting the Dots
Part 4: Simplifying for longevity
Preparation Finally Pays Off
So far, creating your brand story has been the equivalent of a home improvement project where you’ve decided to repaint a room. You’ve got to spend an inordinate amount of time prepping to ensure success.
So far, creating your brand story has been the equivalent of a home improvement project where you’ve decided to repaint a room. You’ve got to spend an inordinate amount of time prepping to ensure success. Remove furniture. Cover the floor. Unscrew the sockets. Use that blue tape on all the edges to get clean lines. It’s tedious and time-sucking because all you want to do is get to the good stuff of getting your new paint on the walls to experience the transformation.
The Brand Story Gets the Glory
The joy is in the painting and the vibrance of your new chosen color. The paint looks like the hero, but in reality, the prep makes it work. Clean edges, no drips on the floor or the sockets.
Your brand story is no different. When you’re done, people will say, “oh, that sums you up perfectly.” The few words of your tagline seem simple. But what makes it work is the prep.
The same sentiment holds true for pretty much all marketing initiatives (and life overall). But this isn’t a philosophy blog; this is a “how-to,” so let’s get to it.
Credit the Work Behind the Scenes
Many of our clients reach out when their existing campaign is underperforming or when they want to infuse some fresh ideas into their marketing mix. We get complimented on our creativity, and we build credibility when that creative exceeds expectations. But what really makes it work is the prep. We believe in being “low-maintenance.” We understand how busy our client contacts are. They rely on us to do our work without hand-holding. So we ask all the critical questions upfront ask for what they’ve got in personas, battle cards, and product information.
We get the rest of the answers on our own. We research their product. We see what their competitors are doing. We gather intel from other stakeholders, like partners and resellers. We uncover what customers say about them on third-party review sites. And the longer we work with a client, the better we get to know their customers. All of this work, behind the scenes, is what drives our “creative” ideas.
Once You Have the Info, the Creative Comes Naturally
Have you been in a marketing group where someone asks, “what tactic worked best for you to (drive this result)?” I smirk internally. The tactics seem apparent when you know your brand story, and the creative almost writes itself. We helped Stremicks Heritage Organic Milk find a place in the crowded Southern California market by aligning them with club soccer. Why? Because club soccer families tend to be upscale and health-conscious, two factors that align with organic milk drinkers. Then we made our presence felt by offering one team an opportunity to play in a prestigious Hawaii Tournament. We knew this was the Holy Grail for Southern California teams. Years after the program, Cal South families still remember Stremicks because of that promotion.
Time to Get Creative
It’s time to get creative. You’ve got your supplies and done your prep, but there’s still work to be done to get your brand story to work. It’s time to take a crack at drafting your story. Let’s connect the dots.
Step 1: Decide Who this Story is Targeting.
As we discussed in week 1, if your brand team isn’t keen on overhauling the messaging now, you can write a brand story that more narrowly focuses on an essential audience like an ABM group. Or you can write it for a specific product in your portfolio that best serves a particular audience. Sometimes you’ve got a no-brainer add-on in your portfolio that works best for one particular audience. Consider cutting your brand story teeth on that. If you’ve got a new GTM strategy, integrating a brand story could be very helpful.
Step 2: Using Your Key Learnings
Grab your key learnings from part 2 on USPs. Keep in mind the audience you selected above; fill in these blanks of your story.
- A character: The audience you’re targeting that you now understand more deeply because you more closely examined your USP
- Has a problem: List the problem your brand solves, both on a surface and deeper level for your persona.
Step 3: Talk about your brand, finally
The time has (finally) come to talk about your brand and its solution. I know it felt like this day would never come, but it’s here.
- And meets a guide: hello, trusted advisor.
- Who gives them a plan: Using your selected product or service.
- That calls them to action: This is your call to action. What does the hero need to do to use your product? Sure, they buy it, but what then? What significant steps must they take to get to the point of success? Imagine what your persona goes through to get to the end of their journey.
Step 4: Start sketching out the success.
Remember, success is multifaceted for your ideal persona. It’s part avoiding failure, part surface level success, and the meaning of success on a deeper level. Since you completed your USP work, this part should be easy-peasy, mad-libs style.
- That results in success: Here is what happens, specifically, when they use your brand. What does success look like on the surface and on a deeper level? How long will it take?
- And helps them avoid failure: You know this persona. So describe the failure or pain they are averting.
- Describe the transformation. The equivalent of the summary part of your thesis paper. Recap and describe the hero’s specific transformation with your brand experience: From (pain) to (joy) in (time).
Step 5: Review your framework
Take a look at your handiwork. Tighten up your responses. Just once.
Step 6: Walk away, just for a little while.
Pat yourself on the back for completing the draft and walk away. It’s now time to ruminate on your story pieces before attempting to bring them together. Sleep on it at least one night before looking at it again.
Legendary Journalist Dan Rather is famous for criticizing the 24-hour news cycle for lacking depth, context, and perspective. This philosophy applies to creativity as well. Take our advice, sleep on it before pulling the trigger.
Step 7: Revisit your story
Refreshed with the perspective that comes with space, it’s time to revisit your story. Put on your client’s shoes and take a walk. Imagine their daily pain without your solution. See your brand showing up as a guide, offering a pathway to eliminate the pain. Imagine the process they would follow to use your solution. Then imagine some time later how that plan would eliminate their pain and bring joy. See their transformation.
Congratulations, you’ve connected the dots of the story.
Now, you may be thinking, I’ve got the story, but what do I do with it? While your short Pulitzer piece is not ready for publication, the story becomes your marketing communication guide for that part of your brand portfolio. It’s not meant to be shared for public consumption. It’s intended to act as your internal guide, your secret weapon.
Your next step is likely to get a buy-off on the messaging. Once you do, it’s time to take your story and create your supporting pieces.
4 Brand Story Executions
If this is your main brand story, you can use it to create four key pieces of information for your brand:
- About Us section on your website
- Boilerplate about section for your press releases
- Elevator pitch for your employees
- Tagline for your brand
Brand Stories for Narrower Audiences or Parts of Your Product Portfolio
Using your brand story for a slice of your brand portfolio means using it to drive your creative. Whether you develop social posts, paid ads, webinars, nurture streams, or organic funnel content, your messaging should reflect your brand story. That’s how you ensure that you emotionally connect with your target audience.
Next week, we will finish our series on brand stories by showing how you can build that creative for the long run.
Want to create a brand story but don’t have the current capacity? We can help! Reach out to learn more about our current offer on crystallizing your brand story.