How to make sense of “brand story”

You hear it a lot: Define your Why, and create your brand story. You nod and agree that it all makes sense. Then you sit in front of a blank screen and realise that you have no idea. Worse, you have nobody to ask (or you do, but fear someone is going to sell you a marketing service you only partially understand).

The thing is, you have to tie the two together. Or, more particularly, understand the two things as two parts of the same thing.

As has been published here previously, defining your Why gives you purpose, specificity, and structure. Perhaps more importantly, it keeps you connected to the reason why you got into business to start with.

It’s good theory, but it isn’t something you can apply in your firm right now.

Similarly, there are posts everywhere online about why creating stories is important for your marketing. (You can read just seven reasons over here, for example.) Chances are you don’t even know where to start, or how to create those stories. Or even what sort of story is functional for you.

The way to make sense of brand story is so simple that you won’t believe me. All you have to do is write down why you do what you do (your Why); and then how you do it. More about that is over here, in this rather brilliant little article.

What happens when you link your why and your how is that you suddenly gain a very clear picture of the potential of your brand story.

A good example comes from a client of ours:

We are a brand and we want to help you enjoy and enrich our country. With what?By giving you clear-​cut options and an individual pathway to migration.

There is a whole lot of subtext in that example, from holidays to employment; families to study. Most particularly, it speaks to a personalised, transparent service that looks after you.

With a framework like this, they can build their story for their particular audience, and know that the story is always on-​brand.

The Storytelling site used an example that was even simpler:

Riedler uses true-​to-​life examples to illustrate the concepts he introduces: “We are a brand and we want to help boys get laid – that’s our “why”, and with what? By sellling them a deodorant.”

Immediate setting, immediate protagonist, immediate story.

How to resolve brand story… with multiple stories

The challenge for some areas — law is a good example — is that there are sometimes multiple teams, multiple audiences, multiple stories. But they sit within an overall umbrella brand story.

While this sounds unreasonably difficult to deal with, it’s an illusion. All you have to do is define the stories in each silo or team, and find the connection with the brand’s overall story.

So you might have Lucy’s Family Law Team, which wants to improve the lives of low income families. How? By running community workshops. They might work alongside Justin’s Intellectual Property Team, which wants to help artists take control of their IP. How? With a series of locally illustrated books that make the issue accessible. Both teams work within Alice & Ben’s Wonderful Law Firm. The Firm wants its teams to be the most accessible lawyers in town. How? By being an active and integral part of the the community.

Suddenly the hows of Lucy’s and Justin’s teams makes sense within the overall story of the brand. Each of Lucy’s and Justin’s messages will vary significantly. Their audiences are different, their communication methods and styles will have to be different. And they will also differ from the firm’s overall messaging, which will have a different audience and purpose again.

But the important thing is that it resonates with, is part of the fabric of, the firm’s overall messaging and direction.

The lesson is: Focus, focus, focus

Never try to smoosh your messages together, never write to appeal to everyone in the market place, because you will fail.

Instead, write your why. Then write your how. Then, identify your audience and what your purpose is in communicating with that audience.

Once you’ve done that, you can brainstorm how that story comes together, makes sense, and is best communicated. Don’t fight it if you have more than one audience, more than one set of stories. Embrace it, empower your teams, and make best use of individual storytelling.

The outcome will be a communication strategy that really speaks to people, and has purpose, drive, and real meaning.

This is a small piece but it might be the most important one for you

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