If you ask someone at your organization how they define “brand,” would their answer match yours? Chances are…no. But you’re not alone. In fact, it’s common for various stakeholders to operate from different definitions of brand, often putting the visual (ie. McDonald’s golden arches) before the emotional (McDonald’s = convenience, family, fun).
Most of us understand stories and brands, to a degree. Brand and story might not be synonymous, but they’re certainly two halves of the same whole. And a misunderstanding of how brand and story occupy the same space can hurt your organization.
Let’s start by defining brand. Brand is more than a logo or a color scheme; it’s a company’s values and how they’re expressed. Brand is how customers talk about the product. Most importantly, though, brand is personal: for consumers, it’s a manifestation of how they see themselves.
Brand affinity is human nature. People care about who they’re buying from as much as what they’re buying. Now more than ever, brands that cut through the static of modern digital marketing and make an emotional connection are the ones that survive. The best, most effective brands in the market all have one thing in common: they have a good story and they know how to tell it. Stories are universal–we all want to tell them and to hear them.
Apple’s the most common example of a brand with an incredible story; but Apple’s brand is more of a collection of stories. The company did more than deliver computing to the masses. It’s also the company that fused technology with style. It’s the company that transformed music consumption through streaming, the company that changed the way we think of telephones, the company that embraced, and banished, and re-welcomed its brilliant and volatile founder.
The best stories are universal because they offer their audiences the opportunity to become a part of them. And each of Apple’s stories complements and influences the other, giving consumers multiple plotlines to insert themselves into. When consumers can see themselves reflected in a product or service, they can connect more closely with its brand.
So, how exactly do you help your customers connect your brand to your narrative? And how can you help your customers see their own stories in yours? You can find those answers by asking some more questions.
- Revisit your values and mission. At this moment, do you believe your current brand is a proper representation of your values and your mission? How does it reflect your organization’s beliefs and goals?
- Know your value propositions. What is it that you do, exactly? What does it offer your customers, and what does it offer you? What problem does it solve, connection does it make, or story does it tell? These are your value props, the most important plot points in your story.
- Connect to people. It’s customers who know a brand best, and it’s customers who can best communicate its value. At Studio Science, our top priorities are helping clients achieve clarity on their own narrative, and communicate that narrative to their customers. That requires getting effective insights from customers and prospects.
- Stay honest. Who are you, really? Are you being honest about who you are, what you do, and why those things matter? If not, your story isn’t worth listening to. Honesty goes a long way toward establishing a relationship; and brands that don’t embrace it risk losing control of their own stories.
- Focus on acquisition. Your marketing team is not solely responsible for telling your brand story. It’s everyone’s responsibility to demonstrate your mission, vision, and values; and companies that prioritize customer service and success gain customers. And that’s acquisition. Tell your story well enough, and your customers will start to tell it for you.
None of these things is easy to achieve. But once you’ve defined your brand and woven your story around it, you’ll find your best customer fit. That takes every team in your organization; a commitment that requires departments to work together.
When your customers and your team are in sync, you’ll ensure long-term growth. And that’s the part of the story everyone wants to reach.