Everywhere in today’s business world is the word Storytelling. You hear all the “experts” say…”Tell Your Story” or “Are you Telling Your Story Correctly?” But what does that mean?
Look, telling your company’s or brand story is critical in today’s business environment. Attention of consumers is at best “lacking” and if you’re not capturing their attention through stories or what I like to call “Brand Journeys” you’re losing. Telling your company’s story takes your Audience on journey, builds trust, and can inspire consumers, employees, and partners.
So how do you do it? I’ve put together 5 Simple Steps to consider when building your brand’s story and creating your Brand Journey.
#1. Be Clear
If there is one thing I see with our clients and prospective clients is a lack of focus. In order for your story to be compelling and engaging you have to know the “Whys and the Whats.” Here are a few questions you should answer prior to beginning to develop your story.
- What is it your trying to tell?
- Why is the story being told?
- What are you trying to achieve with the story?
- Who is telling your story?
- Who are the people in your story?
- Who are you targeting with your story?
In a recent article, Pixar Director Pete Docter put it best:
“What you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to write about an event in your life that made you feel some particular way. And what you’re trying to do, when you tell a story, is to get the audience to have that same feeling.”
That pretty well sums up how you need to approach developing your company’s story and Brand Journey. Be Engaging – leads to Emotion – leads to Evoking Action (Conversion). That’s the goal!
#2. Be a Customer
If you’ve kept up with the Clarity Conversations over the last five years there is one consistent message we tell, mainly because most companies forget this principle. THINK LIKE YOUR AUDIENCE! You must Listen first…they will tell you what they want!
Answer this for me: How are you going to know what story will impact your audience if you don’t know who they are? What’s important to them? How do they view your product/service?
This seems like a simple task to maneuver through, but I consistently see companies failing to think like their audience first. It’s critical in today’s “Connected Consumer”. If it’s not important to them, enhances their lives, or adds value to their situation…they can simply pull out their phones, do a little search, and find a business that is telling the right story for their lives and you’ve lost them.
Take time to research your target audience or future customers. There are many tools available online to determine search terms and keywords searches that relate to your product or service. Go beyond the obvious terms that relate to your business. Think about terms and searches that are like your business, but may not be directly associated with your business. For example, a plumbing company highlighting new designs in kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
And think past demographic information. Interview current customers that fit your target audience. Ask what’s important to them about your product or service. What are their “online lives, social media platforms, searches, etc…
This type of approach expands your storyline and offers more opportunity for connecting with your target audience.
#3. Be Credible
Brands and companies MUST BE authentic with their story. As we’ve already discussed, a consumer today can find out all they want about your company in seconds. If you’re faking it, they’ll know, immediately! So don’t try and be clever…BE REAL.
Don’t oversell or craft an “over the top” story. Just be you. One of the first aspects of working with Clarity Digital is our Brandstorming session. This is a session in which we dig down into your brand and company to uncover it’s true identity and what it’s really all about at the core. When is the last time you had a Brandstorming session with your company? If it’s been too long…you might need to CALL US! This is one of the most important aspects of developing your story.
If you don’t know who you are, how are you going to tell others what you’re about?
Being transparent and “real” only connects with customers at a deeper level. It shows them your human side of the brand. Show them daily routines, how stuff is made, give them tips, and showcase your employees. One of the first things I learned while managing the social media for the Dallas Cowboys is that when we pulled back the curtain and gave our fans a look, engagement went through the roof.
Write your Brand Journey with a few “behind the scenes” storylines. It will only help showcasing your credibility and authenticity.
#4. Be Concise
Your story doesn’t need to be “War and Peace” or “Gone with the Wind.” It needs to be Clear – Concise – Conversational.
In one of our Clarity Conversations we highlighted Tim McLaughlin, Head of the Department of Visualization at Texas A&M University. Tim explains that with today’s distractions, brands and companies have to provide brief stories with “Snackable Content.” Small, bite-sized storylines that give your audience quick bursts of your brand. Watch Tim’s full interview Here.
Remember, a Brand Journey doesn’t happen in one big step. It’s a bunch of small steps that contain experiences all along the way. Walk your audience through the process, don’t make them hurry. Think about cooking a nice meal. Do you rush through the process? Hurry up and burn the steak? Do you buy crappy ingredients? No, of course not! Part of the fun in making a nice meal is the process of picking out the ingredients, and taking the time to properly prepare them. What’s the result? The enjoyment and taste! You don’t rush through the meal either..you enjoy all the work you put into it by savoring every bite. That’s the thought pattern of being concise.
#5. Be Consistent
Once you start your story you can’t stop! Don’t leave your audience hanging. Here at Clarity I’ve seen it happen all too often. The journey begins in social media and blogs only to completely shut down in a few weeks or months. Guess what? That’s a huge turnoff to your followers and audience. You stopped the “movie” right when the girl was opening a door! Don’t do that. Have a plan developed to consistently tell your story. Your Brand Journey can’t stop and needs to evolve and develop based on testing and analysis of what’s influencing your audience. Don’t forget to review results.
Be sure your consistency includes look and feel. Make sure your logos, colors, messaging, etc… is the same across all platforms. Keeping your brand standard on your digital properties gives instant recognition and credibility for your audience. They know it’s you immediately.
Take Home Message
Brand storytelling and journeys are critical in business today. Consumers are bombarded with brand impressions and advertising everyday which causes them to just keep swiping. In order to cut through the clutter you must take them on an Experiential Journey. Develop your storyline with them in mind first: their needs, wants, problems, online lifestyles, social networks, and life factors. You have to think about connecting with them on a different level than “features and benefits”, they’re over that. You have to become a part of their lives by taking them on your brand story and journey. By following these steps, testing, analysis and adapting, you should begin to connect and convert your “travelers” to lifelong customers.