Did you know?
Having a ‘brand story’ makes your marketing more effective and authentic. Without it, you’re just throwing copy mud at the wall. But with a solid brand story to guide you, every piece of marketing becomes a brand builder.
Here’s how a brand story works – and how it’s relevant to your bottom line.
Taking your marketing – and your business – to the next level requires a bit of background work.
Scattershot approaches will work some of the time, but if you’re serious about building a brand that lasts, you need a brand story.
What is a brand story?
Your brand story holds the fundamental principles of why you do what you do. It tells anyone reading it who you are, what you stand for, what’s different about you, how you should sound in communication and what the most important things about you are.
We almost always include a brand story with new client projects. It’s amazing what comes out – our clients always discover new things about their own businesses.
It’s made up of five key components – business values, USP, brand voice and key marketing messages.
Let me take you through it.
Your brand story, step-by-step
1. Brand values
Any business leader should watch Simon Sinek’s TED Talk, ‘How Great Leaders Inspire Action’. It’s a bit of a sacred text in the business world.
Simon’s idea is simple: people don’t buy what you do, they buy into why you do it.
Great leaders aren’t afraid to say what they think. To give a crap about changing the world (or at least their industry) for the better. Great brands are no different.
People buy from you because they like the journey you’re on and they want to ride shotgun. That’s why it’s so important to have your brand values nailed down, and communicate them to your audience whenever you get half a chance. They show what you truly stand for as a business, your non negotiables and form a foundation for your ‘why’.
2. Your USP
Defining your unique selling proposition can be a tricky one for some brands to identify. Not because they aren’t doing great, unique stuff, but because sometimes it takes an outsider’s perspective.
Clients we work with are quick to cite aspects of the business that they think are unique, but often we find that it’s an aspect of the business that they hadn’t even given a second thought – for example, something in their manufacturing process, or an tech process they’ve created to save themselves some time.
Did you know?
If you need some more guidance, we have a guide to writing your USP in our ‘Creating a Brand Story’ walkthrough on the (DIY) Marketing Project, our do-it-yourself marketing templates resource.
3. Value proposition
There are plenty of bad value propositions out there. Often they’re the product of boardroom compromise, and say way too much without actually saying anything. But actually, this should be one of the most exciting parts of the brand story process. It’s the time when you put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask: ‘What’s in it for me?’.
Your value proposition should answer a few key things:
- What you offer;
- Who it’s for;
- How you solve your customers’ problems;
- What benefits you bring;
- And why you’re different (which you should already know from #2).
The good news is that once you come up with this, it’s going to get plenty of airtime. Your value prop should form the basis of your primary messaging – for example, your website homepage. It should be on your business cards and even on the wall of your office.
Try creating your own – let me know how you go!
4. Brand voice
As a business scales up, it’s important to have some kind of record of your brand’s tone of voice. You’ll have different people from marketing, client services and support all speaking on behalf of the brand – not to mention any freelancers or suppliers you might bring in to support your growth.
So it’s essential that you have something down on paper that captures how your brand should communicate.
This can be as simple as three words, e.g. ‘creative, mature and charming’ – a couple of guidelines – e.g. ‘we talk straightforwardly and don’t use technical jargon’ – or a 20-page document full of specific dos and don’ts, depending on what kind of business you are and how much content you think you’ll be creating.
From our point of view, the more you can flesh this out, the better (our copywriters love detail). A strong brand voice will ensure you’re distinctive and consistent across your website, on social media, in your advertising and in your content marketing.
5. Key marketing messages
The final part of the brand story is to craft a set of ‘key marketing messages’. These are the essential statements that cover each of your main selling points. You can then come back to your library of marketing messages and pick the right one for the audience and the context you’re marketing in.
(You don’t have to reuse them word-for-word – but your key messages should be able to be used externally if needed.)
You should have several (we go for at least 5) per audience segment.
Here’s what makes for a good one:
- Explain to people who you are, and why they should care;
- Show how your product/service solves their problems;
- Separate yourself from your competitors;
- Demonstrate the value you bring;
- And speak in your very own well-defined tone of voice.
These messages can form the basis for content you create, or work on their own in your marketing and advertising.
Now go and tell your story!
A cohesive foundation like this makes everything else easier:
It’ll also make it so much easier to engage (and get the best value from) a B2B marketing agency, should you choose to.
Just remember these steps:
- Define your values (why you exist)
- Find your uniqueness (why you and not someone else)
- Communicate your value (why now?)
- Establish a tone of voice (how you speak)
- And determine those super-important key marketing messages.
Want some help? Get in touch. We’ve taken lots of clients through this process and we’d love to help you too.