“My love affair with shoes began when I was 8 years old…” –beginning of my brand story for RoxanneLava.
What is a brand story?
A brand story tells your audience who you are and why you are doing what you do. It presents and connects your brand philosophy and differentiator from your competitors, or what I refer to as your brand “ONLY”. Ideally this information is delivered in an authentic way that connects emotionally with your customer.
The RoxanneLava brand story could be “I’ve loved shoes since I was 8 and now I make them.” Or it could begin with the line above. Which sentence interests you more? Which do you respond to more from your emotional self? If you aren’t a shoe lover, perhaps neither interests you. The point is that YOUR story will be for an audience that does share your passion and you want to entice them to engage with you.
Why is a brand story important?
Today we are marketing to an audience of one. Essentially that means that each of your customers takes an individual path to purchase from your store. Customers today want to know whom they are doing business with. They want a “personal” relationship with two-way communication. Your brand story is the thing that will invite, build and enhance that relationship.
How do you create a brand story?
Start with writing a paragraph or notes on why you do what you do. Focus on what you are passionate about-your passion will invite emotional connection. A good approach is to use a personal experience. It is likely your customers will have had the same or similar experiences and that will allow them to immediately connect with you on an emotional level.
Edit this section down to 2-3 sentences that communicate the essence of your passion in your own style.
Hint: Write as if you were speaking, or actually speak it with the microphone on your computer or smart device. You may need to edit a bit, but this will be a great way to deliver your authentic voice.
Next, do the same with your brand philosophy and ONLY. Remember to use your authentic voice. Edit so you have one brief (4-6 sentence) paragraph.
Test, Test, Test
Try it out on your website, in your conversations through social media or face to face, on your in store materials. Pick and choose pieces to test. Turn your sentences into questions to illicit response. For example, using the RoxanneLava story, I could ask, “Do you have a love affair with shoes?” or “What is your first shoe love memory?”
Continue to revise, update and build your brand story based on your findings. Keep notes as you go so you can create your own personal Brand Story Guide.
What is a Brand Story Guide?
A brand story guide is a document you create that ensures brand consistency. When you are conversing with your customers you want to keep consistent language, voice and style, no matter the communication or the communication channel. If your customer engages with you on Facebook and then reads a description of a product on your ecommerce site, they want to know they are connecting with you.
As you test and edit, create a section for each - language, voice, style. Look at your competitors and analyze their communication on consistency of each area. Take a look at big brands in your category as well. Sephora is an excellent example of consistent communication in language, voice and style across all channels.
Hint - One of the best categories to explore is Small Batch Food/Beverage. Look at small batch breweries and spirit makers especially. Food overall is a category that connects language with product.
You may well need to have a number of people working on your communication, so it may be worth your while to create a “character” for your brand. The character will have particular language, voice and style that is not so deeply connected to you personally. Because the character is based on you but not you, you can allow others to be the voice of the brand.
Hint – Your character may be your logo symbol.
How do you communicate your brand story?
You have your story? You’ve tested it. You’ve refined it. You’ve started your brand story guide. Now what?
USE IT! Use it through each and every channel your interact with your customers. Tailor it for each message AND keep refining and building on it.
View a 30 minute Facebook Live webinar on Brand Story, or listen to an ONO podcast on Brand story. Need more help visit ONO made in the 191.