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The First Step To Mastering The Art Of Brand Storytelling

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy, Marketing

There are more than a dozen places to buy coffee in the commuter belt adjacent to Southern Cross Station. You can choose from artisan roasters, international cafe franchises or convenience stores and pay as little as $1 or as much as $5 for a takeaway coffee—all within 30 metres of the station. So how do people choose?

It’s clear that each cafe tells a very different brand story using price, design, location and more to communicate to the particular customer they want to attract and serve. The perception of value drives some customers. Others are drawn by convenience, the ambience of the venue or simply the ritual that feels best. Each customer has a different worldview about the value of a $5 coffee. And yet if you stood on the pavement outside the station you’d find it hard to tell those customers apart.

So where does a business owner begin? The first step to attracting (and keeping) the customers you want is to understand what it is they want. What do they believe in, care about or fear? Where do you come in? Your business can’t fulfil the unspoken desires and unmet needs of a customer you haven’t fully understood.

The biggest challenge to telling better brand stories isn’t that we don’t have a story to tell. It’s that we’re not telling a story that matches the worldview of our prospective customers. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if you don’t understand the worldview of the person who will buy it. The first step to mastering the art of brand storytelling and being a better marketer is to stand in your customer’s shoes.

I created the Story Strategy Course to enable you to do exactly that. If you want to find more ways to resonate with customers and differentiate from your competitors. If you’d like to understand where to devote your marketing resources and why. If you’d like to simply get better at telling the story of the value you create this course will show you how.

Registrations are open now. We start at the end of the month. If you’re ready to take the first step to telling a better story, I hope you’ll join us.

Image by Linh Nguyen.

What You Want To Say Vs. What People Need To Hear

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

Every one of us has a story to tell—something we want someone to hear. So we begin crafting our messages by prioritising our need to be heard. The irony is the best way to make an idea resonate is not to start with all the things you need to get off your chest, but instead to think about who’s listening and what they need to hear.

Before you send the email, write your sales copy or draft that proposal stop for a moment to consider what the person who will read it is doing, thinking and feeling right now.

What would you say to him if you were looking him in the eye in that moment? Start there.

When we get this right, it’s the difference between a music player with a 5 GB hard drive and 1000 songs in your pocket. And more importantly, it creates a world full of intentional and thoughtful ideas, stories and connections we can be proud of.

Image by Sebastian Rieger.

Getting The Story Formula Right

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

I often get emails asking about the right and the wrong way to tell a brand story. Questions like:

How long should the story be?
Should we start this way or that?
What’s the best medium to use?

The more important point to consider is not the length of the story or where to begin but how well the story connects with the audience. A good story resonates so well with the intended audience that it changes how they feel and moves them to act.

6 Questions To Ask Before Begining To Tell Your Brand Story

1. Why are we sharing this story?
2. Who is this story for?
3. What does our intended audience care about?
4. How can we meet our audience where they are?
5. What will our story invite them to believe in or do next?
6. How will we know if our storytelling has succeeded?

The best brand stories begin with the end in mind.

Image by Aaron Guy Leroux.

How To Build A 21st Century Brand

filed in Brand Story, Brand Strategy

Forty years ago a brand was an identifier. Branding was what we did to the outside of a product or service after it was conceived and created. Brands became tales woven to increase visibility and memorability using design, clever copy, print and TV advertising to make sure the product was known by the majority of prospective customers. This is how traditional brands like Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Visa and Hertz became top of mind and won big in the days of traditional advertising.
The following list is what branding was traditionally designed to achieve:

Objectives Of Traditional Branding

  • Awareness
  • Attention
  • Authority
  • Majority
  • Average
  • Profit
  • Dominance
  • Outside in
  • Shareholder value
  • Single bottom line

But this isn’t how you build a beloved brand now. Today a brand is a promise that people align with, believe and invest in and branding begins from the inside out. 21st century brands are purpose-driven. They have a reason to exist beyond making a profit, and they no longer aim to appeal to the average or everyone. Here’s what 21st century branding sets out to do:

Objectives Of Branding in the 21st Century

  • Affinity
  • Alliance
  • Trust
  • Individuals & Tribes
  • Edges
  • Purpose
  • Relevance
  • Inside out
  • Customer-centric
  • Triple bottom line

If the nature and function of brands have changed, then the process for developing brands and brand stories must evolve too. We’ll be on our way when we begin by prioritising the objectives on the second list. A brand story is no longer like the top coat of gloss paint applied at the last moment to make the surface shinier and more immediately attractive. It’s the undercoat that often nobody sees, but which allows the brand to endure.

Image by NASA HQ.

The Good Marketer’s Dilemma

filed in Brand Story, Marketing

People (including you and me) often convince themselves that they make logical decisions about what to buy based on things like quality and price. If this were true, then there would be no need for businesses to invest in packaging, design or user experience.

Packaging, design and copy tell a story that reinforces a worldview—enabling the customer to rationalise purchasing decisions. There’s a reason the body moisturiser comes in a gold tinted bottle. It reminds the buyer of the soft ‘sun-kissed summer skin’ she longs to achieve. The marketing copy on the front reinforces the message with descriptions of precious oils, intense nourishment and radiant glow.

The ‘RESULTS’ achieved by other consumers (41 of them who used the product for a week, if you’re paying attention to the fine print and asterisks), are detailed on the back.
+INTENSE NOURISHMENT: reduced dryness 53%*.
+RADIANT GLOW: 78% of women noticed a difference.**
+NOICEABLE SMOOTHNESS: 93% of women agree.**

The stories marketers tell are assurances upon which customers base their expectations. So while we might make the sale today, if the story doesn’t live up to the expectations we’ve created, then we risk sacrificing customer loyalty and sustainable business growth for that quick win.

We (you and me) make up the companies, businesses and organisations that help people (who deserve to live in an asterisk-free world) to create habits, decide and choose. Our marketing not only communicates our value it also demonstrates our values. We’re responsible for both what’s inside the bottle and the effect of the stories we tell on the outside. That very fact means we’re more powerful than we know. Good marketers live with this dilemma every day. It’s worth remembering that it’s easier than we think to reach a sales target or to get an idea to spread and much harder to be proud that we did.

Image by Thomas Hawk.