You want to build your business brand – but just how do you do that? The first step to creating a memorable brand is to tell your story.
What makes the difference between a mediocre company and a truly successful one? Surely the main difference lies in the people involved, in the amount of hard work put in.
But if that were the difference, why are there mediocre companies that pour all of their hearts and souls into advertising and just never seem to get anywhere – and incredibly successful companies that do not seem to really advertise at all, yet anyone would recognize their name or logo if they spotted it somewhere?
The difference is all about what makes one business stand out from all the others – the story behind the brand.
Every company has a story to tell. Whether it’s a truly compelling story that will be remembered by the consumers is a different matter entirely.
Apple founder Steve Jobs summed up this marketing reality when he said,
“This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.”
The question then becomes how do we as a company go about getting the information we want the public to know about us out there for them to find?
The answer, of course, is the compelling story behind a brand.
Avoid Fact Stuffing
The most important thing to avoid when putting together a company’s “brand story” and preparing it for the public eye is fact-stuffing.
Too many facts and not enough emotion will get a company overlooked instead of remembered.
When telling the story behind a brand, it is vital for the company to keep the power of emotion in its words. It is a psychological fact that human beings are more likely to remember a story – and therefore remember the brand it’s associated with – if there is some sort of emotional impact.
Who isn’t affected in some way by those heart-wrenching stories of abused and neglected animals that make up the brand story for non-profits like the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or other animal welfare groups?
The emotional impact of these advertisements serves to emphasize the brand story and therefore make the brand more memorable and encourage the public to interact with them in a visceral way.
“Facts are boring,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn of Forbes.com, “but putting facts into a context with emotion makes them memorable. Stories help you connect with people on a sensory level.”
Not all companies have the obvious opening to emotion that some do. Not every company has a CEO who fought some life-threatening disease, or is associated with hard-hitting topics like childhood illnesses or animal welfare.
Every company has an emotional story to tell
How did the name of your company come about? Is there an amusing, interesting, or amazing anecdote behind the company’s name, its history, or anything else about it?
Every company has something they can capitalize on in order to draw out the story behind their brand. However, there are some traps you do not want to fall into – especially if your company fills a niche that can be called “affordable.”
Vince Robisch of ModernCopyStudio.com warns against this very issue.
“A brand that view themselves as affordable or even “just a little different” often overlooks the opportunity to tell a captivating story because it just assumes everyone understands their business. They [think that they] can simply state what they offer and highlight their price or great service and move on.”
Do not allow your company brand to fall into this trap. Even if it seems like everything anyone needs to know about the brand is already out in the open, there’s far more that can be told.
A compelling brand story is a necessity in today’s glutted markets, with so many companies competing for similar markets – both on the Internet and in the brick-and-mortar world.
Your brand must evoke a response in the customers, a response that will make the brand be remembered and associated with a positive emotion.
Think of a company’s branding as the “moral” of an old time fairy tale. The story itself is interesting and intriguing, but what the author really desired their readers to come away with was the understanding of the fundamental moral issue at the core of the story.
Mark Thompson of BrandChannel.com sums this up by saying,
“The moral of a story is the core idea or truth that the story expresses. Your brand story works in a similar way; it defines and expresses the core truth about who you are as an enterprise. It’s the rationale behind your most fundamental decisions.”
When looking at a company’s brand story as the moral to it’s over all “fairy tale,” suddenly that which you want your customers to take away can become obvious. Is the business family oriented? Is it appealing to other businesses, or directly to consumers? These are things that must be considered when telling the story behind a brand.
A brand is about being recognizable. In a way, the meaning has not changed much from the days of the wild west when a brand symbol – a logo, of sorts – was burned into the hair of cattle to mark what ranch they belonged to.
A brand still serves that purpose. It marks the company’s products as unique.
“Crafting a brand story allows you to communicate to your consumer exactly who you want to be,” says Lisa Barone when she was working with OutspokenMedia.com, “so that they know how they are supposed to remember you. That’s how you break through the noise. By giving them something to remember.”
Keeping this in mind, it is also important that you do not allow your company to be lost in the miasma of other businesses that may fulfil a similar role or niche. Do not let your company get lost in the “herd.”
Know your competition
Creating a brand story that stands out requires knowledge of competitors. The first step is to gather information on other companies that function in a similar scope and see what their brand stories are. No company wants to inadvertently end up hiding behind another company because of brand similarities. Find that special thing about your company that makes it stand out from the others in its field.
Perhaps it is the story behind how the company name came about – what brought about the business? was the name originally an acronym of other words? What words were used? What is the basis of the company’s logo? Does the CEO have an interesting history? Was it originally a family business? Find the things that make your brand stand out and use them to the company’s advantage.
Make your brand story actionable
The final thing that needs to be kept in mind when creating the story behind a brand is to make sure that it includes something that spurs the customers to action – something that makes it seem important that your company is the one they choose to support, rather than any others in the company’s field.
Be memorable and seem important.
As Scott Scanlon of YouBrandInc.com says,
“You want your story to create a call-to-action in your readers mind. So build your story that it is leading to this call-to-action in a subtle way.”
What exactly is a call-to-action? What can you spur your customers to do, other than simply buy your products?
A connection to a charity is always an excellent example of a call-to-action.
Major game industry giant Blizzard Entertainment regularly releases new “digital items” for use in its games, but every now and then there is one with a special call-to-action feel. Such as the soon-to-be-released digital pet for which one hundred percent of the proceeds will go to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the Cinder Kitten.
Attaching your brand to a charity is not a new idea – fans of Nike will recognize the LiveStrong brand, tied in to cancer survivor and worldwide acclaimed bicyclist, Lance Armstrong. Donating to cancer research has become attached to Nike’s brand story, thanks to their association with Lance Armstrong. This gives customers a call-to-action when buying, and will perhaps encourage them to spend more with the knowledge that some of what they spend will go to cancer research.
Having a compelling, memorable, emotionally strong brand story is an absolute necessity for company survival. The most important thing to remember is that as the owners of the company, you hold the future of the brand squarely in your hands.
A brand story must be memorable, must touch the emotions of the consumers, and must stand out from other similar brands. With these things in mind, crafting the brand story that will support your brand in years to come is only a matter of sitting down and working on it. The story is already there, and now the call-to-action is in your hands – to make your brand’s story heard.