Why your brand story is still critical to success
Every company starts with a moment of inspiration and invention, followed by a journey marked by innovation, collaboration, and passion. No matter what the product or service is; the company starts with a belief shared by principals, employees, channel partners, suppliers, and customers.
As Guy Kawasaki points out in his new book, Enchantment, the company creates relationships that are deep, lasting, voluntary, and mutual. When you look at your brand story, consider the editorial components and how you’ll describe the characters, plot, setting, obstacles, protagonists, and antagonists. How will you define the chapters in this story?
Rich companies, like rich lives, are speckled with defects and mistakes – and challenges overcome – illustrating the power of learning in order to grow. The defects actually add depth of character to a company, helping to support brand values and brand promise, while demonstrating behaviors that are necessary to build a relationship of trust with its audiences. By talking about ‘lessons learned,’ colleagues and influencers gain confidence in the brand and the ability of the corporation’s team of people to manage in the face of adversity.
People will forget carefully crafted vision and mission statements, but will remember a compelling story. A couple of example stories are briefly highlighted in this Inc article, which mentions authenticity and consistency. This is especially important today as Social Media Marketing is revealing your corporate story one sentence at a time, in real time to everyone!
Without a brand story, marketing plan, communications strategy, and digital strategy, your brand message may ramble and stray from where the company intended, even straying from factual events and actual occurrence based on rumor and misinformation.
Once you have a brand story to share, it is important that every employee be able to tell the story. (Even better if you can convince your customers to share your brand story!) Employees should know the brand story, believe in it, and understand how they add value to the ongoing brand story as it is being written every day. For example, in spite of the difficulties it has faced, AIG continues to move forward, and one of the tools they are utilizing is the AIG brand story, based on confidence conveyed by employees.
Does it change the value of the brand story to know that they had to spend money to make a video about the brand story? Was it a worthwhile investment? If the real employees featured share this video with their friends and customers, the impact of real people pursuing real goals can greatly influence public opinion.
Negative publicity takes only moments to create; positive momentum can take years to generate.
Rather than waiting to do ‘damage control,’ start your brand story now. Think about how you will position your story, what elements will gain focus as chapters in the story, and how it will be communicated to audiences. With any marketing communications initiative, ask yourself: “Is this story subject to reframing?” As with many principles of marketing, reframing has a foundation in psychology and uses language and positioning to change perceptions. Competitors can use reframing to quickly undermine your brand promise, sometimes with surprisingly little effort.
In the end, this is your corporate brand story – and it’s imperative that you define and tell the story in a way that compels listeners to be believers.