Brand Story (Buffed)
Think about your favourite brand and how you feel when you are shopping for their hottest new thing. What is it about this brand that makes you feel this way?
Do you think you could talk for five, ten, twenty mins about how awesome this brand is?
I’m not a gambling man, but I’d bet you would be telling me a brand story.
Before we delve into what makes an awesome brand story, let’s get clear on what “brand” is. Brand is a combination of three expectations:
Of Quality. Level of quality, or an attribute (comfort, speed, taste etc)
Of an experience. How it will make you feel. Either through the actual product or service. Or through the interactions with the brand.
Of connection. Who you become for supporting, sharing or being a fan of the brand.
Assuming the benchmark of an amazing product or service, the rest is about brand culture. It’s how people experience the brand, end to end. The living brand.
Let’s make this about your brand for the definition.
Brand story is the narrative bridge between who you are as a brand (your culture), and who your best customers need you to be.
Deconstructing that statement.
Who you are as a brand means all the different elements that make up your culture. Those are:
Shared Vision – common Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG)
Purpose – your north star. For all to rally behind
Values Alignment – the values all team members bring to work align with the core values of the brand. From the top down.
Impact Model – an authentic model that aligns with your product/service, purpose and people.
Flawless Service – Your team living the culture and delivering an awesome experience for customers
Who your best customers need you to be. Customers want to align with brands that have a purpose and values they aspire to have. It helps them define who they are.
Back to that story from earlier in this section. What do you align with most for your favourite brand?
The (Brand Story) Plot Thickens
Brand story is far more than a clever ad campaign or tagline. It’s more than a marketing message. It is the sum total of all interactions with a brand for the entirety of the customer journey.
A movie story line becomes richer and clearer with every new scene. So too brand stories as customers interact with more of your messaging.
At each point on the customer’s journey they must find the ideal story piece for their current level of awareness. Fused with the best mix of Purpose, Values and Impact of course.
Think about customer journey and the changing levels of awareness through this typical path.
Completely unaware of the brand
First exposure, something resonates and our interest piques
We discover more and our interest rises because of a personal alignment or aspiration. So we embark on the journey of increasing that awareness.
More exposure to the brand and its culture adds to the story we are assembling in our mind. Our like and trust for the brand builds.
Until reaching a point where alignment and the trust factor are big enough to become a customer.
Then the real opportunity begins. Induction as a customer at the prime opportune time. Delivery on all the promises of their offer. Time for their values, purpose and impact to become real.
An exceptional brand experience transforms us from customer to die hard fan. And as a raving fan, we bring others into the fold.
A transformative customer journey is about these moments. The language of these moments. The connection made. Empathy. Alignment. Personality. And of course, co-creation of impact.
All these pieces come together together to create an underlying story. Whether deliberate in design, or not. The key is to always aim for a clear and simple narrative. One that makes sense for your brand.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Simplicity. You want to fit in a tidy little box in your customer’s mind, and own it. The easier it is to understand and remember, the easier it is for them to make it their own, and share.
In the next part of the book we will discuss our Golden Story Flow model in detail. And how to use it to create your baseline story script and ensure consistency and the right story piece at the right time.
Mission Alignment – Authenticity or Death
Brand Stories take time to build. And can shatter in a heart beat with a contradicting twist in the story.
Mission misalignment is such a culprit. It can scare all who encounter it, especially your team.
With misalignment comes disengagement. Resulting in loss of that team member’s creative and discretionary energy. Disengagement eats away at your brand culture.
From a brand story perspective, authenticity and consistency is key for customers. Doing the work to identify gaps that conflict with your brand story, will ensure its safety.
There are two parts to this work:
Review: Analyse all aspects of your organisation to identify any misalignment and gaps
Design: Wherever there is a gap or misalignment, shape what your brand does and how it does it, with authenticity.
Part of the problem is not knowing what aspects need checking. Rather, what the baseline is.
If you need foundational help there are a few models to align with. For instance UN Sustainable Development Goals, Conscious Capitalism tenets, and B Corp Certification.
As a Certified B Corp I lean towards the B Corp Certification. Do the full B Corp assessment. It is free to do, unless you decide you want to certify, and I highly recommend it.
End of session. This post is the revisit of last nights bullet points. Thought it could be interesting to compare the results of the two nights.
You will notice I removed the formula from this section as it will be used in the “How to” section.
Is there anything missing from this one? Let me know in the comments below.
Current word count is sitting at very close to 5000. Tomorrow I am aiming at 1000+ words.
I am journalling my book writing in 21 days. Follow me. Hold me accountable. Given it is holidays I am glad I made the public commitment or I wouldn’t be writing now!