How do you truly connect with your brand’s audience? Through story. Great stories stick with us…and the reason why is no great mystery.
From Star Wars and The Godfather to the plays of William Shakespeare, a great story survives time and change because for audience after audience, something true and potent sunk in.
Star Wars and Brand Story
That is, if we break apart the plot of the first Star Wars film, we see a template of events that are millennia old — a young hero who yearns for adventure is pried from home after a trusting guide, and a chaotic chain of events thrusts him into the innards of the Death Star itself. The events are both deeply familiar and yet invigorating…because, on some level, we see our own life parallel the hero’s quest.
So we watch.
Story Involves and Motivates Your Brand’s Audience
In other words, stories like Star Wars don’t exist in a vacuum. They land, and land well, with their brand’s audience…and with subsequent generations of audiences who love the story so much they consume fan fiction, dress up for conventions, and in some countries, lobby to make Star Wars an official religion.
If you’re just joining us, don’t worry. This article isn’t part of a Star Wars series and we won’t be talking about the new Obi-Wan show.
Rather, it’s a series on authentic B2B branding…and my point is that potent brands reach people with the posture and messaging of a timeless classic story. If you’re just joining by the way, you can read more about how the elements of a brand that guides its customer (the hero), mesh with the elements of story here.
The Final Piece of Your Branding Effort
Riffin’ on story brings me right to the heart of it.
On the top of the branding pyramid, way above the foundation of a true, authentic purpose — and above the narrowing, rising layers of personality, metaphor, archetype, history, location, and brand story — we find a sharpened, or…if we’re still talking pyramids, a crudely sharpened capstone. As magnificent as it may look, the whole structure is pointing at something:
Your brand’s audience.
Every author knows that when you’re telling a story, you need to pay attention to your brand’s audience. The same applies for a large corporation, a regional B2B branding agency like Resound, and your own company.
Who’s your brand’s audience? Which hero are you aiming to guide to the finish line?
While most companies have a good, or even a statistically sharpened understanding of who they’re trying to reach, the question is worth asking again, and as simply as possible, from a brand and brand story perspective.
Your Brand’s Audience Squared
You might respond that I’m forgetting one thing — your brand or company has more than one audience.
Take it easy.
If you’ve got more than one audience, (or more than one product), you’re in good company. In fact, even if you create one product or offer one service, you’ve probably got a few audiences already in the bag.
When we think of any given brand story, four distinct audiences come to mind:
- Your customers (or clients, or whomever you serve)
- Your employees (or volunteers, or members, or whoever is on your ‘team’)
- Your investors (or partners, or shareholders, or whoever your biggest stakeholders are)
- Your community (the people who share your location, geographically or otherwise)
Depending on your type of organization, the specifics of each of your brand’s audience will vary, but the categories will remain roughly the same.
For instance, a non-profit doesn’t have shareholders, but it does have donors who make a financial investment. An ethnic grocery chain’s “community” may not only be its neighborhood, but also the ethnic community in the city in which it plays a role…and that “community” probably includes other competing businesses in the grocery industry.
Who You’re Pitching To
For each audience, there will be a specific adaptation of your brand story which makes the most sense to that audience.
The story should stay the same, but the way you tell it will differ, depending on whether you’re advertising on the front page of your website or talking with your employees.
New Audience. New Version.
Your employees, for instance, need to have a deeper understanding of the story, so that they can in turn relay that story to customers. Even if they don’t regularly interact with customers, knowing the larger story gives employees a sense of purpose at work.
By contrast, an investor needs context, which helps him see whether your goals are plausible given the backdrop and setting of your business.
Customers often don’t have time for much context. They may only give you a few minutes to tell your story, if that much. In other words, your plot and purpose need to move!
Your local community, on the other hand, doesn’t want a sales pitch. They’re not interested in giving you money or buying your service. Instead, they want to hear things like how you’ve helped the community, provided jobs for people, given opportunities, or sponsored community groups.
Tell Your Story
So, you’ve identified the purpose of your organization and the values which result from that purpose, which together form the core of your identity. You’ve used some tools to further define your identity, and all of this culminated with the idea of a brand story.
But it isn’t enough to just have a good story.
You have to tell the story.
Put Your Story to Work
This entire exercise is pointless if your brand story sits on a document filed away on a server. You have to make these ideas about your brand concrete: turning them into images, colors, content, a brand voice, and ultimately into relationships with your customers.
There are many different ways to tell your brand’s story. You can create a video, or write a book. You can write an article, or design your collateral with your brand’s story in mind. You can create a greater sense of identity through your logo, images, and other artifacts within your organization.
But the brand story is the genesis of everything else: all of the other expressions of your brand expand outward from that single point.
Give it Enough Time
The process of expressing your brand outwardly might be gradual. You might begin with a logo or an email signature. Then it might expand to some signage inside of your own office or an update to your website. Or you might just begin with your elevator pitch, and how you talk to people about what you do and your ideas.
The important thing is that, having documented your ‘why’, your values, and your brand personality, you want to take action as a team and ensure that it fuels what you do day to day. You want to make sure that it guides you as you interact with customers, as you communicate in your marketing, and as you make decisions.
These are things you agreed were important; the truths about your brand.
Remarkable brands, (and even if you don’t know it yet, yours is one of them)…resolve to live those truths, not hide them beneath the latest marketing trends or corporate logo.
Everywhere the light touches your brand, your authentic personality should come shining through…and resonate like a classic dose of the hero’s journey.
There and Back Again
Well, remarka-fans, this was quite the journey.
Now that we’ve come full circle to your brand’s audience and purpose, we’re excited to tell you that this whole series of articles has been drawn from chapters of our recently released book on branding: ‘You are Remarkable.’
It’s out now on Amazon, and if you like what you’ve been reading here, the book will put even more wind in your sails.
If you’re new to the series, we’d also recommend going back to the start and reading through our series on B2B branding.
If your company’s going through a rebrand, if you’re wondering how to take your company’s purpose and show it to the world in a way that’s winsome, scalable, and authentic…we’ve designed our resources to take you there, one step at a time.
You can also give us a call and chat with our team.
If there’s one thing we love more than getting to know remarkable brands, it’s helping them step up to the plate of showing their brand’s audience how remarkable they are.
Thanks for reading and happy branding!