We're hearing about story selling, why stories, and story-based marketing. A brand story is more than the application of story telling to your brand. Here's the difference. The use of stories is a technique or an approach in sales, marketing and communication that is certainly effective. But without a careful process, it won't ever rise to a brand defining level.
Brand stories define the organizations that use them and accelerate growth by engaging customers and empowering staff.
How can you elevate story telling and story selling to story branding?
- Start by recognizing the difference between stories about your business, and stories about customers. A brand story is always about your product or service in the life or work of your customer. That means that the main character of the story won't be you. The champion will always be your customer.
- As you look at the stories that you are already sharing, consider which ones could be told by both your team and by a customer. There may stories already in use that fit this description.
- Of all the stories that you've used in marketing, sales or as internal illustrations, which ones capture the core values of your business best? We often use stories to illustrate a single differentiation point or to introduce our solution in a sales setting. These usually don't rise to the level of a brand story.
Think of your brand story as the master narrative
Good stories today, like those in winning movies, are based on more than just a single simplistic plot. Real life stories and good stories are both complex and include the nuances of different personalities and experiences. At the heart of authentic stories is a master narrative. It's the changing social norms for the landed gentry in Downton Abbey, it's the struggle of an orphan to find a family in Annie, and the search for personal identity and values in Star Wars.
The master narrative is your brand story, but finding it can be a challenge.
The difference between great books or movies and your brand story is their origin. All of those stories take elements of reality and weave them into a fictional whole. Your brand story can't be fictional. It has to be a reflection of the impact you are creating in the people or businesses that you serve. While it needs the unique flavor of a great movie, it also needs the real grit of truth.
In fact, if your brand story is not based in the consistent quality of your product or service, and your consistent commitment to serve your customers, it won't be a blockbuster. Instead it will deflate as the real narrators (your customers and employees) share something different because their experience doesn't line up.
Capturing your brand story begins by finding it where it lives- in the daily experience of your customers.