Seeking Your Story: 4 questions to find your brand story
You know why you’re in business… You’re doing what you love, or what you’re good at. You could be living your purpose and pursuing your passion, or you could be filling a market need, but either way, you’ve already built a successful business. Not only that, you’ve built a great business that has a significant impact on your team and on the customers who you’re here to serve.
Read on to find out how to take all that good stuff, and craft it into a story that has everyone else falling in love with your brand – plus the four key questions we ask to get to the heart of a business’s story.
When it works, it works
Some brands just seem to have it – they’ve sold plenty of their products (or their services), they’ve engendered loyalty, and they’ve built a tribe of people who are not only genuinely connected with what they’re doing, they’re telling other people too. That’s the dream, right? Turning customers into advocates.
The first part is basic business – they’ve got their product-to-market fit right. By this I mean that whether they’re selling a product or service – to other businesses, organisations, or individual consumers – they’ve created something that meets the need of their intended target market. But that’s not all the magic.
You can have a great product or service and still be just another commodity, no matter how good you are. And this means that you are ultimately replaceable. The thing that makes some brands different, more successful, and usually more sustainable is their story.
TOMS Shoes is one of the original – and certainly one of the most successful – ‘one for one’ social enterprises. From the beginning, they talked about the hardships that they’d seen faced by children growing up without shoes. They built a business that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair for a child in need. That makes for an incredible story – and it’s helped them grow into a global brand.
But what if you don’t have the same altruistic motivation behind the founding of your business? Does that mean you can’t still craft a compelling brand story? Definitely not!
Let’s take a look at Go Pro. It started as a way for athletes to document what they were doing. Over time though, became the method by which people could capture their most meaningful experiences and share their interests with others, via the world’s most versatile cameras. Or consider Uber, whose story is all about evolving the way the world moves – by seamlessly connecting riders to drivers and making cities more accessible through their apps. These are both strong brands, and strong stories.
But what is a brand story?
As you’ll be starting to see, a brand story is not just a catchy turn of phrase for the purpose of sounding good. In fact, your brand story is more than just content with a narrative – although all of those aforementioned aspects are important elements! Rather, your brand story is your foundation on which you build your reputation and your brand. It’s obviously about what you tell people, but more importantly it’s what they believe about you based on the signals your brand sends.
A real, effective brand story is emotive; it’s personal, it’s meaningful, and it’s authentic.
Brands that are winning in this space (in the hearts and minds of their market) communicate through storytelling not only to stand out and show that they are different – but also to allow their audience to connect with something they care about. In doing so, they’re giving people something to really and truly buy into.
Simon Sinek, in his now infamous TED talk about how great leaders inspire action, hammers home the point that people don’t really buy what you do, and they don’t often particularly care how you do it (unless the method directly affects them). Instead, they connect with why you do it. And this connection engenders trust and loyalty.
You can tell the brands that have their story at their heart. It comes through in everything they do – not just the content on their websites, or the words on a glossy brochure. Instead, you can feel it in all of the facets and touch points of their business.
How do you find your brand story?
A truly compelling brand story goes beyond your product or service. It’s not focused on features and benefits, or the specifications of either – however superior to others they may be. Your product or service is only part of your story. After all, consider how most of your customers nowadays will begin their relationship with your brand before they have even purchased your product, or enlisted your service.
So, what’s the secret sauce that’s added to all those other ingredients? We think that those who do brand storytelling well are those who have managed to get their passion and the things they love about their business to come through in their content – whether that’s on the page, or via video.
However, I can hear what you’re thinking… This is often easier said than done. Lots of people struggle to write about/for themselves (even those of us who do this for a living!) And many of us who have been in business for some time might even have lost touch with the original ‘why’ that we were here for in the first place. This is where an outside perspective and some great probing questions can help. We love working with business people to help them rediscover their story as part of our Seeking Your Story process, and then start getting that out to the world.
So, what are the four key questions you need to ask to find your brand story?
1. What was your journey into business?
No doubt there was an initial driver or a realisation you had, which was less to do with turning a profit (although that’s been a nice result later) and more to do with making an impact or providing a solution to a problem that you perceived. This ‘aha’ moment is what you need to bring to life for your customer in your story.
2. How does what you do benefit your customers?
Looking beyond what your business means now to you, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Consider what your solution means for them and their lives. Is it the same thing that you initially set out to solve, or has this evolved over time?
3. What makes you get out of bed in the morning?
Beyond your pay cheque, why do you keep doing what you do? Or, in those early days when it was tough and you might have worked harder than you ever had before, what made you stick with it and build what you have now instead of going to get a well-paying job?
4. If you had to walk away from your company tomorrow, what is the thing that you would be most proud of?
Is it your people, your customers, the way you’ve stayed ethical even when given the chance to do otherwise? What do you feel is your legacy?
There are more things that we delve into with our clients, but all of them are geared towards bringing you closer to rediscovering your ‘why’ – the essence of your story – and then articulating it in a way that others can connect with. Ask yourself and your team the questions above and you’ll probably start to discover the ‘secret sauce’ that makes your brand so great.
You see, every brand has a story. No matter where you are in your journey, what you sell, or whether you still feel that you’re living and breathing that story right now, your brand does too.
For help finding your story, get in touch. We’re here to help bring your brand story to life.