Brand Story: What is yours?

What is your brand story?

Copyright © SpellBrand

Continuing our series on how to build a luxury brand, in this video, I talk about your brand story, how to build your brand story and creating your brand story has a significant impact on your brand of course. It will ultimately have an effect on your bottom line and your profits. In the previous episode, I talked about the facets of building a luxury brand. Where I outlined service, experience, pricing and then of course branding as the primary facets.

Every brand has a story to tell. Some are inspirational while others are tragic. In so many ways, building a brand is like telling a great story. At the heart of both crafts is the power to evoke emotions from the audience. Great storytellers can make you cry while branding experts can make you buy.

There are many media to tell your story from advertising, packaging to business cards. Thanks to the Internet a brand is just a click away. And just like stories, it’s not what you say but how you say it to your audience. You can use the strategies and selling points of your leading competitors but it won’t have the same effect unless told in a compelling way.

How do you develop a great story then? Start with the end. Or in the words of Stephen Covey, begin with the end in mind. Imagine you’ll be in the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine next year. How would you like your story to unfold? Do you like to tell them about your superb customer service or innovative thinking? It can be whatever you aspire your company to be. Then outline the things you need to do to make that dream a reality.

In some aspect, branding is different from storytelling for it is a two-way system. In stories, the author controls the ideas and plots. In branding, your story is a collaboration of your vision and opinions of your customers, suppliers and even competitors.

What about your logo design? It will play a pivotal role in uniting all aspects of your communication. You see ads, web design, and packaging may change from time to time but a great logo design stays the same for many years. Just like any story books, your logo is your cover.

Branding is more than just words and designs. It must be accompanied with great actions. Otherwise, it will all be a waste of time and money.

Since I already covered service, the next step is “experience” but then I thought since different brands have different ways of giving a great experience, I cannot really pinpoint particular strategies and say “okay this is what you need to do to give an experience”. Instead, I thought I would go back to the touch points of these experiences such as how people perceive your brand and how your target market perceives you and your brand and then start from there.

One of the most important ways of connecting with your target market and your audience. To create the perception of a luxury brand is through telling a story. Now, most businesses do not even think of a story. When you ask them do you have a story? They might say “yes look at our website. look at the marketing material”. Now a brand story is not what you say on your website or what you say in your marketing material. Well, not strictly what you say but it is not what you’re trying to convince your target market about. It is not about trying to convince them to make a purchase or to buy something in that moment.

A brand story is something that will create this perception in your target markets minds that will translate into loyalty down the line. Of course eventually into conversions and sales.

Before we talk about your brand story we need to talk about the power of storytelling itself. Yes my slides a getting a bit fancier. Well actually I did not have a lot of time today so I just took this template and put the images in.

The power of storytelling

Humans communicate and pass on traditions with stories. This is how we been doing it since the dawn of mankind. Even in this modern world when we get up in the morning we tell ourselves stories. We tell our spouses. We tell our kids. Our kids tell us stories. Our friends and when we get to work. We tell our colleagues. Our customers. Everybody is telling everybody stories.

Traditionally when people talk about telling a story it is put together with | it is thought of in the same trend as lies or ‘he’s telling a story or they are telling a story’. But actually stories don’t necessarily mean negative. In fact they do not actually mean negative aspect. Telling stories is how we communicate. We understand stories readily.

We understand stories readily. Stories actually make us imagine and arrived at our own conclusions. This is very important to understand. Why do we like stories in the first place? We like stores because stores allow us to think through and formulate our own opinions. To formulate our own conclusions about a particular belief or a particular event. So we feel more liberated when we hear stories. We also align ourselves with the right kind of stories.

So when we hear a story. We hear a story about a particular brand or about a particular company, a particular leader, about a particular race or even a country. We sort of align ourselves with the right kind of stories and we convince ourselves of their authenticity. We convince ourselves of their power and we get sold or we sell ourselves on the power of the right kind of stories. Believe it or not we are all very good at telling stories. Since we were children we have been great at telling stories. You know we tell stories to appellants will he wants something. Then later on in life for everything we tell stories. So why not apply that to telling your brand story.

Why do you need a story?

Your brand needs a story. I’m not talking about marketing messages, your slogan or your jingle. But rather your core story. In a a later slide I will talk about how a story is told. But essentially why would you need a story? You need a story to cut through the noise. Now the marketing world is full of companies making a lot of noise to be heard. Customers are overwhelmed with the noise of the advertising. With the noise of branding. With the noise of sales. So if you want to cut through the noise you need a compelling story. A story that set you apart from the competition and a story that appeals to the worldview of your target market.

You start with the worldview of your target market. You try and understand what makes them tick. You try and understand what appeals to them. What do they read? What kind of movies do they like? What do they wear? Yeah, I know it sounds a little silly but getting into the psyche of the target market can help you understand their worldview. As I mentioned in the first episode you need to be empathic towards their worldview. This is not manipulation. This is not about manipulation. Because manipulation only goes so far. What you’re trying to do here is a genuine understanding of your target market.

What are they kids like? What do they do doing their off time? What kind of movies do they watch? Things like that. That gives you | that will get you closer to your target market. Your customers. You will feel like you know them because most businesses operate from a position where their customers are aliens. They do not understand who their customers are. They just look at themselves at the company and say “okay we want these people to buy our product to give us money. We don’t care what they think. We don’t care how they think. They’ve got a wallet. We have a product. They need to buy from us.”

But that is a wrong way of looking at it. It’s especially true for smaller companies. It might work for AT&T or Coca-Cola but not for you and me. It does not work for us. So we have what is called an opportunity cost where we’re losing money on the table just because we’re not sensitive to the fact that our customers need to be understood properly. Not understood from a marketing perspective but from a human perspective.

The next thing is that you do not want your product or service to be a commodity. Even if you’re selling tea or sugar. Even if it is a commodity it does not have to be a commodity. I actually wanted to give an example of Starbucks. I was just talking to Ben few minutes back before I started this. I was telling Ben about how Starbucks sells coffee which is nothing more than a commodity. One coffee is no different from the other if thy are made using the same recipe. Yes, yes, yes I do know that different beans come from different places. Of course the aroma is different ever so slightly.

The taste may be different and fundamentally you looking at taste. I will be brutally honest to you. If you look at the statistics. If you analyze how the market works. Most of these coffee companies get their beans from one particular region in South America. There are different farms. In fact [Costa] or Starbucks may have coffee farms and plantations side-by-side. There are sharing the same soil. There are sharing the same water. The same environment. In fact members of the same family will be picking these coffee beans in competing plantations.

At the end of the day why would you pay five dollars for Starbucks coffee and not coffee found at your local café. When you go to your local café. If they say $5 rs or $7 or $10. You will like “what” a copy coffee cost $10?”. But then you happily walk into Starbucks and you ask for a frappuccino . I’m willing to pay eight bucks for this frappuccino. So it is about turning your product or service from being a commodity into it non-commodity. A commodity is defined as something that can be differentiated from something else. That is being offered in the market. But at the day you can differentiate your commodity, your service or your product just with the power of your storytelling. Of course like I said again genuine storytelling.

Now Apple is a cliché example is it? Everyone talks about Apple. This is about credit markets. You get a story to be original and unique. You want your company to be unique. You want your business to be unique and original. If you have a service or project that is not unique. Infact you know what, to be honest with you. If you’re selling a unique product and that no one else is selling. Your market is niche. It’s too small. It’s very small. You do not even need to worry about your brand. In fact you do not even need to have a company name, a logo or a website. Well, you might need a website but you know what I’m saying. There is no question of branding when there is no competition. Branding comes into effect when you have competitors. You need competition to progress and to make more money basically.

You want to be original. You want to be unique at the same time you’re selling the same kind of product or service like 100 different other companies of selling. To make yourself unique and original you need your brand to have a story.

How do you tell a brand story?

In my opinion to start creating your brand story you need to start thinking inwards. Like in zen meditation. You think inwards not outwards. You need to balance between inwards and outwards. Essentially you start inwards. You try and discover and [distill] your company core values. Every company, every business, every individual has a set of core values. We all do. Sometimes we realize that sometimes we don’t.

You need to find out with the core values argue business. Now everybody is in business to make money but most of the time money is not the only thing that motivates us. Okay so we come to work. We’re passionate about something. Maybe you are passionate about… Let’s say you have a clothing brand. Okay let’s say that you want to sell T-shirts. Maybe apparel, now there are 1 million other outlets selling T-shirts. When you decided to sells T-shirts you could have picked something easier but you had a passion of apparel design. A passion of selling quality T-shirts has motivated you for a very long time and that is how you started your business. You need to find what your values are. Where you stand a traded mission statement or a philosophy that goes beyond just the benefits of what you’re selling.

Because if you look at most bands and you go to their website and that mission statement. When you read their mission statement you can’t help but laugh because their mission statement is so marketing word like. It reads like a marketing statement. If you go to any of these marketing manuals or books they say ‘you need to have a mission statement that says this is what we provide and we are providing it at the best quality possible’. Okay who is going to say that they’re going to provide bad products at bad quality?

Who is going to say that? So you are saying that you’re going to provide your products at the best quality and your competition is going to say the same damn thing. Sorry for my French.

That is what they going to say. So there’s nothing special about saying that you’re going to provide the best quality. If you not going to be providing the best quality you not going to be in business anyway or at least if you do not say that yours is not the best quality you not going to be in business. Talking about the usual fluff is not going to cut it. Don’t talk about the benefits of your service all your product. Go beyond that. That is at least for a mission statement.

There is a place and time for talking about the benefits. Harping on and on about how great you are or how great your company is. When it comes to marketing or actual sales. But when you’re creating a mission statement which is going to be the fundamental pillar of your business don’t talk about that. Talk about your core values. Talk about your beliefs. Took what how you plan to make a difference in this world. When I say that a lot of my clients say ‘ Wow, that is so philosophical’. That is so… I don’t know. They feel uncomfortable saying such things are talking about a philosophy. But at the end of the day companies that talk about philosophy they are companies that are market leaders. If you look at any of the companies that I lead in the market and you will see that they do not… Yes again a cliché example Apple. Apple does not sell computers. They do not sell music. They sell a life style. That is why we pay exorbitant amounts to buy Apple products. The are beautiful products but beyond beauty there is this kind of community effect. A culture that they have created with storytelling. Pure storytelling.

Right, look at why you started business in the first place. I would just talk very briefly about I client money where for whom we came up with the brand strategy. A website and all that. They’d sell hats. [Lambeewear] hats are premium hats. The whole mission statement and brand story of [Lambeewear] is about connecting with the past where the CEO the owner of Lambeewear brings in the stories of his uncles. His great uncles and his grandfather in the 1920s, 30s and 40s when they came to America. People came to America they were building America. They had these occupations that they really were dedicated to. They used to wear hat. In fact in his collection each hat is named after one of his uncles. There is the uncle Bud hat. An uncle Chuck hat. Harry the barber so on and so forth.

So you can see immediately the story of his brand. It is not just the hats. Tomorrow is where he might be selling regular shirts, gentleman’s close, suits, wallets and anything to do with men’s fashion or ladies fashion. The story would not have to be changed but if you have a marketing message then you have to constantly change that. Look for clues on how you see the ideal of where to be. Don’t be afraid to be philosophical. Don’t be afraid to be lovey-dovey. That is because that is what comes out of your brand. Your customers will see the love. They will see the genuine | your genuine intention of why you started the company and that itself will become a story.

Also if you find it hard. Let’s say you do not have a history. Let’s say you do not have an interesting story that you can tie together. Look at yourself. Look at your life. Your attributes and your quirks. Things that make you tick. Because you are an individual and you are different from the 7 billion other people on this planet. There are bound to be attributes that make you you. Try to pick those. Take those and turn them into a story. I’ve been rambling a little bit today but let me try and finish this off.

What are the Brand story touch points

Before I go into that just to make sure that everybody’s is able to watch this. Let me just do a bit of housekeeping. Right so finally I will be talking about brand story touch points. These are the points where you can tell your brand story. Of course this is where also marketing comes in. Like I said you will have a separate content for that.

Okay so the brand story touch points are it starts with your brand name, your tagline or slogan. Your mission statement as I just said. Marketing messages. Design and content. Obviously it is the content of your website or your brochures. You social media aspects and even how you answer your phone. People jude your brand by how you or your staff into the phone. This is taken from examples. It is the company’s culture. They have a set script on how to answer the phone. Infact we do that in our company too.

But how you answer the phone. How you talk of the phone. Describes what your story is. It might not sound like such a groundbreaking idea but you would not believe how many times people forget the messages that they give out from how their sales reps or how they customer service representatives talk on the phone and how they interact. These are all the conch points to where you brand story can be told.

Look at Zapoos for a great example. They have a case study on the website. Go check it out. They made service as their brand story. People talk about it. I’m talking about it. Millions of others are talking about it. That is how they get all of there advertising. They do not need to do anything proactive. All they need to do is focus on this service and their marketing take care of itself. So just to go back recap this particular episode. We are talking about the value of a brand story and how useful it is to have a story as your anchor point and it will center you. It will bring you back to the center of your business. It will give you ideas. It would give you messages on how to market yourself. How to deal with your customers so on and so forth. Then I talked about the different ways you can come up with brand stories. If you don’t have readily available to brand story.

Finally the different touch points. Yeah I know this last slide is bit of a redundant slide because they’re not really talking about how to create brand name or a tag line or slogan but I would do that in upcoming episodes. How you brand name could make or break your company. How you tag-line or slogan is important. The mission statement yesterday talked about it today so I’ll probably do a separate episode on that. But I will definitely do an episode on brand values, clarity and so on and so forth.

So I hope he found this session useful. There was no letter today but I felt that brand story is such an important topic to talk about. I am rambling so I will end this episode. If you have any questions just email me or ping me on Google plus to talk about it.

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