What is My Brand’s Story?
By Ted Wright July 2, 2018
A question I get asked often is “What is my brand’s story?” Let’s talk about that.
When I look at most brand stories that companies are putting out there, I feel they often look more like mission statements than stories. We once had a client whose brand story ran almost 1,300 words on their website. While it was interesting to the founding family of the company, it wasn’t interesting nor relevant to US consumers.
No matter the size of your company or the industry you work in, all brand stories are found the same way – and if your current brand story isn’t doing much, it can still be saved.
How do we find it?
Step number one is taking all of the data surrounding your brand. The data should cover every aspect of your brand from “Who buys our stuff?” and “Where do they buy it?” to which products sell best, who are our competitors, what are people saying about us, and so on.
Once you have the data, sort through it.
The data then needs to go through a 3 tier test.
- Is this authentic?
- Is this interesting?
- Is this relevant?
You may be biased, considering it’s either your company, or the company you work for, so it’s extremely important to be hard on yourself here. It’s extremely important to think about what’s going on outside the 4 walls of your company, and be able to bring whatever it is your selling into the real world. This test will make sure you do that.
- Authentic: When you explain your brand and work to others, are you using your own, authentic voice and excitement, or do you sound more like a lawyer?
- Interesting: If you bring it up at brunch, are people interested? This is of course subjective to the type of group you’re at brunch with – mothers with 3 young children will have different interests and concerns than a group of young adults looking for their first post-college job, but the story should be interesting for the demographic it’s meant to be targeted to.
- Relevant: Really, is this going to make a difference in anyone’s lives?
If you can meet on all 3 of these, your story will spread and that means you have a story worth talking about. What’s great about these tests are they’re all super cheap to run. Pull out a whiteboard, get into some thought experiment and get started. Go to brunch with friends. It’s a lot cheaper than anything else you’re going to do.
One of my favorite examples of this was done by Reeses. A few years ago they came out with a new product they wanted to test in the field – they were Reeses cups that were individually packaged but not wrapped in paper, and using some magic they wouldn’t make your fingers gross. They went to video game conferences and handed them out for free. This was interesting, relevant, and authentic for them gamers in discussion. Picture the conversation between them: ‘Hey, I just tried these new Reeses, they’re delicious, I can eat them without getting anything on my controller.’ That’s it. It passes all 3 tests.
I’ve often found that there may be push back at first. Many corporations who have done things a certain way for so long feel personally tied to the work, brand, and story the way it is. Not surprisingly, people are not always comfortable with change and are not going to be comfortable going where a company traditionally has not gone before. There may have been meetings and conference calls and time spent on the things currently in play that are not actually working, so, yes, there may be push back, but run it through the test and you’ll have proof that what is going on isn’t working. Again, it’s super cheap to do.
Once it’s confirmed there’s a story worth talking about, then it’s time to build digital experiences that bring the story to life. The goal is to always have people come to your story, explore it and allow them to understand it without having to sell something. When that’s working and people are talking about it, then you can start to do TV ads.
If you’ve found that your brand doesn’t pass through any (or all) of the tests, it can then become a company goal – how do we decide what fits all of these things, to the most people possible? Because at the end of the day, marketing is about selling more things to more people for more money.