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brand story

The Complete Guide to Creating an Authentic Brand Story in 2021

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Your brand story is the core essence of the brand, expressed through simple narratives and design, that evoke emotional reactions in the target customers and helps the brand to connect to them.

Earlier, the business world was very company-centric. Push marketing with the brand dominating the conversation.

Now, unless your brand is authentic, emotional, and all about the customers and solving their problems, you can't continue to win.

People are trusting more in others they know and reputable content, not company ads. They are also connecting more to stories and experiences.


So you need to build a powerful story with the right messaging, to help you connect to your audiences.

What is a brand?

A brand can have many definitions, and it is difficult to pin it down to one specific thing.

But in general, a brand can be explained in this way:

It is a promise of value. An identity.

A brand has to have a promise to deliver some benefit to its target audience, through each product or service.

Usually, this promise is of 2 kinds:

  • Solve a problem: Meet an existing need
  • Generate desire: Create a craving/ new need

It is an experience, an association in people’s minds.

The audience absorbs the brand message consciously and subconsciously while engaging with the brand and people who mention it.

This creates a perception in the audience’s minds about what the brand stands for.

It is a go-to expert. A catalyst for growth.

A brand needs to establish itself as the expert or as one providing the ‘best value’ in its specific expertise.

If the business actually delivers the value it promises, it can generate investment from its target audience, which over time leads to growth.

A brand is not just a logo, a product, or a website. It’s an experience. Click To Tweet

Benefits of having a strong brand story

Brands build awareness and set you apart

A brand is a promise of value and experience that makes an impact. It is a personality, a purpose, a message, a voice, a set of values and beliefs. It is YOUR value, and it is unique. Brand life cycles are longer than those of products.

Stories connect to the heart

Stories promise emotional experiences and benefits for consumers, whereas products promise primarily direct functional benefits. Research shows that in fact, especially in the B2B world, people buy a product or service because of how it would make them feel.

Brands can attract investment

Besides attracting clients and leads, a well-told story through a brand, with a clear vision, also has the ability to gain trust and investment from venture capitalists and other financial investors.


Brands inspire repeat purchase

Have you ever experiences a situation, where you just liked a product, but it was one of many. But the service was so great, and you think the people really understood you, and you connected to the brand, believed in it, that you just retained your loyalty to it? And maybe even went on to recommend it to others?

Think about the recent Coepernick campaign by Nike.  That is the true power of brand stories.

Essential elements of a brand

1. Customer Focus

A brand’s biggest objective should be to match its core offer with the needs of its specific audience.

2. Uniqueness

It is key to have a Unique Value Proposition, even for a niche audience.

3. Simplicity

The core offer, positioning, and promise of a brand have to be simple, clear, and easily understood.

4. Authenticity & Heart 

It is important for a brand to be honest, transparent, meaningful, and true to its stated values. Only then can it touch the audience’s hearts

5. Credibility

A brand needs to have a Reason-To-Believe on why it can claim a particular expertise

6. Consistency

A brand should maintain the same tone and message at each point, to create a consistent image subconsciously in the minds of the audience

7. Fulfillment of the promise

To gain and retain trust from your audience, just ensure that your brand consistently delivers the value you promised

Read more about these in detail: 7 Essential Elements of Strong Brand Equity


How to grow your business with your story

There is a 7-step formula that you can follow to grow your business, irrespective of your industry. The only criteria are that you do these steps repeatedly and consistently. 

grow your brand continuously

Read more about this in detail:7 Steps to Keep Growing Your Brand Continuously [Infographic]

3 steps to building your brand story

There are 3 core steps of developing your brand story.

1.  Define your story

Identify what your brand truly and proudly stands for. What it wants to achieve, why it exists, what value it offers, what its personality is like, how it wants to change the world.

It is very important here to be true and authentic at this stage. Otherwise, your business journey may not be impactful or sustainable.

2.  Design your brand

Develop an identity that represents the story perfectly. The brand identity, the tone of voice, the customer experience, will translate the story from paper to a real-life existence.

3. Craft your message

Create the perfect way to talk about your brand. What your brand offer is, the benefit you offer your audience, the actual story woven together with a specific set of words, that you can share at any networking event or 5 min conversation.


DEFINE YOUR STORY

Define your Brand Story

1.  Market understanding

Build deep knowledge of your niche market 

Understand the ‘real’ market you are operating in. Within a broader market you can have a smaller one, so understand those specific group dynamics.

Understand your competition

Identify your core competition’s offer, strategy, marketing channels, promise, and communication.

If you're unsure whether to start, a tool like SEMRush's Market Explorer or  Competition Research will help you get a lot of understanding.

2.  Customer insights

Focus on a niche group, with a specific problem. Solving that problem will help you to build a specific identity and positioning, in their minds.

Understand their biggest unmet needs (pain points) or desires, their purchase behavior. This will clarify how you can solve their problems best and create your communication.

Related: What You Should Definitely Know About Your Consumer’s Purchase Process


Get an idea of their lifestyle, where they hang out, where they go to find information, their customer journey. This will help in your marketing.

Related: 21 Free & DIY Ideas for Doing an Audience Analysis for Your Small Business

Again, if you need help with what your audience is looking for, try out SEMRush's Topic Research.

Now that you have all this info, put it down in a structured format.

Download a FREE template to create a buyer persona.

 

3.  Brand purpose

Identify your ‘why’: The Reason for Your Business to Exist

Brand Purpose

4.  Mission statement

What specific benefit do you want to provide for your particular consumer? That is your mission statement.

You can derive it from the purpose.

Here are some examples:

Google: Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Paypal:  To build the Web's most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.

See more examples of some inspiring vision statements.


5.  Vision

What is your vision for your business? What changes do you want to make in the world? What would your brand stand for, a few years down the line? Examples:

McDonald's: Be the best quick service restaurant experience

Southwest Airlines: Become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline

6.  Unique value proposition

Identify what uniqueness you bring to your audience. What you stand for, what you deliver that is different from your competition, and why your audience should believe you.

Unique Value Proposition

Related: 27 Ways to Create Your Competitive Positioning & Business Differentiation [with Examples]

7.  Brand personality

Define the personality of the brand, almost like it were a person.

Is it more playful/ fun, or more serious and formal? Is it more classic and elegant, or more modern and tech? Is it an everyday, relatable, human brand, or more chic, upscale, and aspirational?

8.  Brand promise

Write down your value proposition in 1-2 lines that capture the essence of your brand value.

9.  Values

Identify the core values that your brand stands for.

Here are two examples:

Brand Values

DESIGN YOUR BRAND

Design Your Brand

Now that you have determined what your brand stands for, its differentiation, its mission, and its full story, you have to bring that story to life with the relevant visual and written representation.

The name of your brand, the design, the tone of voice, the colors, the actual messaging, are all different aspects of your brand identity. But it's not just that.

You have to define your customer experiences too, because as you saw above, a brand is essentially an experience for the customer, so at every touch point, this experience is very crucial.


1.  Brand name

An ideal brand name is the combination of a few factors:

  • The brand mission and promise
  • Emotional connections that the brand can form with the audience
  • The brand personality and the values
  • Any other references that your audience may identify with. Like local or cultural references

Of course if you offer a service, your business brand can also be your personal brand.

But if you would like your product brand to be different from you, and not just have you as an identity, try to brainstorm for a few names that represents all that your brand story stands for.


2.  Look and feel

Your brand look and feel is not just a logo. It’s an entire persona.  It includes but is not limited to:

  • Logo
  • Design
  • Colors
  • Stationery (Business cards, letterheads, envelopes)
  • Packaging
  • Store design and furniture
  • Signages
  • Powerpoint template

Related:How to Choose a Brand Color Palette that Fits Your Brand Story to a T

The key thing to remember is to ensure consistency among all your brand elements. At every interaction with the customer, the brand should look, behave, and feel the same. Click To Tweet

3.  Tone of voice

For a consumer, it’s not just what a brand says that’s relevant and important, but also how the brand says it. So this is essentially the communication style that the brand will use. Identify below which direction suits more, to help you connect best with your audience:

4.  Customer experience

Define the experience customers will have at each interaction with the brand. The key topics to address are:

  • Detailed info & explanation
  • Questions & contact
  • Purchase process
  • Ease of product/ service use
  • After-sales support
  • Troubleshooting

Related: How Your Customer Service Teams Are Growing Your Brand. Or Killing It.


CRAFT YOUR MESSAGE

Craft your Marketing Message

 

There are 3 kinds of messaging you could create for your brand:

1. Marketing Message

2. Tagline

3. The full one-page story

1.  Marketing message

The direct brand benefit, the specific problem solved by the brand. This you MUST have.

Examples:

FedEx: The World on Time

Citibank: The Citi Never Sleeps

Subway: Eat Fresh

2.  Tagline

The spiritual journey. The state of being/ feeling that the brand helps you attain. This is optional. But if you want to have one, look at your mission and take it one step further, with a few powerful words.

Examples:

Adidas: Impossible is nothing

Nike: Just Do It

Apple: Think Different


2.  Brand story

Put the story together using the different elements:

Who the brand (the protagonist) is, and what are its origins

(Hint: positioning statement)

Why the brand was launched: to solve which problem? For whom? Why does it do what it does?

(Hint: audience, brand purpose, mission, values)

How does it solve the problem now?

(Hint: Unique Value Proposition, brand promise, marketing message, tagline)

What is the character of the brand? How does it conduct its business, how does it behave, when it offers the solution to the problem? What does it believe in, feels strongly about?

(Hint:  Tone of voice, look and feel, personality, values, customer experience)

What does the brand plan to do in the future? What change will it create in the world?

(Hint: Vision)

Related: Create Your Powerful Marketing and Brand Messaging & Use Them Like a Pro

In the end, remember, every single thing you say and do is a reflection of your brand.

Over time, your brand will build a perception and impression in the minds of your audience, gaining their trust as a whole. Click To Tweet

Related: [Mega List] 200+ Marketing/ Branding Ideas & Tips to Grow Your Small Business!

Get the full guide with worksheets and templates to develop your unique and authentic brand story.

 

 

 

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