Why A Simplified Brand Story Matters
The iconic American humorist writer Mark Twain famously penned the quote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point was that it takes a more significant effort to be concise in your messaging. It forces you to be more precise with every word, which ultimately creates a message that is more clear and deliberate.
KISS: The Keep It Simple Principle
As marketers, we’re all too familiar with the term KISS principle—keep it simple, stupid. American aeronautical and systems engineer Clarence Leonard “Kelly” Johnson is credited with the modern-day saying. He used KISS to explain how overcomplicated systems don’t work well for manufacturers or customer experiences. But the concept dates back to the 1400s when the great Leonardo da Vinci stated, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” The principle applies to product creation as well as marketing messages.
Simplifying your brand story ensures that your prospects stay engaged by specifically understanding how your solution solves their problem and provides them transformative value.
Getting to the Point
As a creative, I am often guilty of wandering off-topic in internal conversations. Big shout-out to my business partner for her patience and gentle reminders to stay on topic in client presentations. After 33 years, I’ve honed my skills by committing the necessary time to prepare for those meetings mentally. When client conversations turn into brainstorms, the free-flowing ideation is unleashed again.
The 7-Layer Dip Campaign
My last boss (before I became a co-founder) was notorious for creating what a client later called a “7-Layer Dip” campaign. She threw the KISS principle out the window and instead tried to stuff every promotional technique she could into every campaign. The resulting campaigns were cluttered and confusing to consumers. As a result, I learned the value of simplifying your message early on in my career.
Direct Response Discipline
Direct Response gurus like Frank Kern, Russell Brunson, and Ryan Deiss all profess that “a confused mind won’t take action.” You must read the room and rely on the KISS principle to guide your messaging. One story. One plan. One call to action.
Today’s digital ecosystem allows marketers to develop content and campaigns aimed explicitly at prospects at a particular point in the customer journey. As a result, you can build your brand stories with intent in mind and includes a single call to action that motivates them to take one specific action.
Brand Story Executions
As we’ve covered, your brand story is a framework you can use to develop supporting marketing content. Think of your brand story framework like a creative brief in story form.
If your brand story is about your primary brand and ideal persona, use the framework as the launching point to create these four pieces of content:
- 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
Are you starting with a brand story for a narrower audience or part of your product portfolio? Then you can use the brand story framework to drive more specific campaign content, such as social posts, paid ads, webinars, nurture streams, or organic funnel content.
No matter the brand story, the goal is to emotionally connect with your target audience and inspire them to take action.
How do you build a lasting brand story?
Like epic films and inspiring novels that make the all-time favorites list, the marketing messages and brand stories that stand the test of time relate to evergreen themes of human emotions: struggles and triumphs. Think in context of the big three: health, wealth, and relationships.
Example: Connecting Teens with Modeling Aspirations
In the mid-90s, we helped LA Looks launch their first Model Search contest. These events, held in-store at key retail locations around the country, were a rousing success, increasing category dollar share by over 20% in that first year. Hundreds of aspiring teenage model contestants were seen and scored by judges at each event, each one buying a product to enter. A model search agency supported the contest by offering the winner a $100,000 modeling contract.
LA LOOKS chose to run this same program for nearly 20 years. Why? First, it spoke to the audience of teenage girls, who go through an adolescent stage of aspiring to be a famous model. Secondly, retailers loved it because it brought traffic into their stores and drove sales. Third, the model search agency had a built-in vehicle to discover new talent. Lastly, for LA LOOKS, the program kept delivering a positive ROI.
Focusing the Message for Today
You can aspire to create a message that lasts forever, but much like viral videos, most of us cannot accurately predict the future. As generations move into different life phases, like Millennials hitting mid-life and Gen Z moving into their 20s, values can change and impact how your ideal persona receives your marketing message.
Ruminate on your brand story framework
Yes, you already did this when you edited your brand story the first time. Now, think about your framework within the context of what kind of content you’re creating. If this is your primary brand story, it’s best to write your About Us, Boilerplate, Elevator Pitch, and Tagline in that order.
Write it in (Digital) Pencil
The more your write content with your framework in mind, the clearer your messaging will become. Expect that you will tweak your content over time, getting more and more focused.
Let Your Best Customers Guide Your Prospects
Review the testimonials from your best customers, either within your case studies or on third-party review sites. Look for clues, concepts, themes, or phrases that appear frequently. These may help define your content. Remember, your goal is to emotionally connect with your ideal prospects, which most closely mirror your best customers.
Use Your Authentic Voice
Today’s prospects and customers want authenticity. That doesn’t mean you have to write like you’re talking to your college buddies, but rather that you’re telling the story like a friend or colleague, not like an elite authority figure. Imagine telling a peer about what you do, based on how much time you have. You can tell the longer About Us section if you’ve got a while. The short version is the PR boilerplate. The Elevator pitch is even shorter, and Tagline is a one-line explanation.
Imagine Telling Your Parents About Your Brand
Another way to consider writing your story is to pretend you’re telling your parents what you (or your brand, in this case) does. Think about how you’d tell that story so that they could understand and relate. When you can sum it up by saying, “my brand helps these people overcome this problem in this way resulting in this transformation,” you’re on the right track.
The Aha Moment Could Strike at Any Time
When we developed a repurposed asset campaign for Elixir Technologies, we delivered more than they expected. While creating a sales deck from a whitepaper, we told the brand story that the CMM SaaS had been struggling to articulate. We realized that their solution could help clients undergo a successful enterprise-wide digital transformation by turning a single document into a CoE (Center of Excellence). The client praised the revelation as the moment we “crystallized and depicted their messaging.” Plus, the supporting assets (digital ads, infographics, social posts) became their best-performing marketing campaign of the year.
If you’re stuck, we can help.
Whether you hit a wall with translating your framework into content or don’t have the bandwidth to create the initial brand story framework, we can help. Reach out to learn more about our current offer on crystallizing your brand story.
February Special: A Brand Love Story
In February, we are offering to create your brand story framework for just $12,000, along with your choice of accompanying asset. Our goal is to motivate marketers like you to jump in and get your first brand story done. And since every CTA has a deadline, ours is February 28th, 2022. Reach out and let’s make your brand story come to life.