Build recognition, affinity and loyalty with a message that can’t be duplicated because it’s yours alone.
Ideas are intangible. Emotions engage. Companies are cold. People connect. Information bores. Stories fascinate.
That’s why we have to cram for exams and hope we can remember enough to pass the test, but we pay to go to a movie, sit on the edge of our seats eating stale popcorn and recall every scene in detail when we retell it at work the next day.
Storytelling has power.
Films, best-selling fiction, great newspapers and creative nonfiction – such as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood – have used storytelling techniques to entertain, inspire and motivate us for years. Businesses and nonprofits can use these same techniques to set themselves apart because everybody – and every business – has a story.
And while you can hire an ad agency to come up with some nice words and pretty pictures to “brand” you, that’s not what branding is about. Branding is an inside-out job. Branding is as unique as your fingerprint.
Branding through story works.
Jim Collins in Good to Great says there has to be a larger calling than just making money. There has to be a reason your business exists that fulfills a greater need. Your story is that reason. Your story is your brand.
When it is told well and consistently, your story forms the core of your marketing and public relations efforts, internally and externally. It becomes central to your company’s graphics – the expression of your values is revealed through your logo, colors and typography – and messaging. Your Website, sales materials, publications, customer service program, public relations campaigns – everything is tied back to this brand story.
When you are true to your brand story, you will attract and inspire employees – not just for success, but also for greatness. It’s finding your brand story, and then articulating it internally to your employees to get them on board with your mission.
Externally your brand story may serve initially as a media story on its own, or as a vine from which branches grow, each supporting the main idea. If, for example, your company’s brand story pays tribute to the sacrifice the founders’ made to begin the company, perhaps coming to this country as immigrants or refugees, subordinate stories may include nonprofit work the company has since done to help other immigrants assimilate.
There are many directions a brand story can take, but the underlying message is consistent, and each episodic retelling provides clarity and makes your company memorable, admirable and unique.