When you’re building a business, you’re building a brand. A brand is not your logo or design. A brand the total emotional experience someone has with you. A brand is the total set of associations – concepts, topics, services – people have with you. “You” means all of your business’s touch points. What many CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs don’t realize is that customers get a feeling when they interact with your brand. And according to New Epsilon, research shows that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
A personalized experience is shaped by everything – your online presence, your business partnerships, your team, your customer support, your loyalty programs, your reliability, and of course, your story. And it’s up to you, as the brand innovator, to best shape that brand story to fit your mission, because eventually, your brand will take on a life of its own.
Storytelling can help you grow your brand with integrity. Storytelling can connect you with the right customers, and if used correctly, will become an extension of your mission. Shaping a story and growing a brand identity takes deliberate action, intention, and personalization. Here’s what you need to consider as you build your brand story:
A brand’s story is shaped by brand integrity.
People want to be surprised by a brand. They want to taste delight and feel moved when they read your posts, comment on your blogs, or talk with one of your team members. It’s up to you, as a business artist, to paint an honest picture for your customers. Calling yourself a family-friendly company, but refusing to work with children, for instance, could damage your brand identity. Make sure your story aligns with your mission.
More than 60% of men and women have avoided a brand because of a bad experience. A bad experience can occur for any number of reasons. If a customer doesn’t return, because they simply don’t relate to your brand, that’s not a problem; that may happen. If a customer doesn’t return because you’ve lost or neglected your brand integrity, this can be damaging to your brand’s future. If you don’t maintain brand integrity, you not only risk losing customers, you risk losing your identity.
A brand’s narrative can and will change throughout the years. The best brands grow and adapt to the times—and yes, evolve their story—but they do this successfully because they keep an open communication with their customers and run their business with integrity.
Proctor and Gamble (think Charmin, Tampax, Crest, Downy, and Gillette) has been thrust into the spotlight for various reasons–being a contributor to child labor and using sexist marketing to sell products—but they have been deliberate in their efforts to change their narrative in order to align with their new mission: “finding small but meaningful ways to improve lives—now and for generations to come.”
In 2017, they ran “The Talk” commercial to spur a conversation they felt needed to be had on racism. They took a stance and whether that stance was favored or not, Proctor and Gamble understood that their marketing, their narrative must align with their mission. No matter how big or small your brand is, brand integrity can make or break you. Your goal isn’t to please everyone. Your goal is to ensure that your story aligns with your mission.
Be consistent, deliberate, and purpose-led.
Todd Henry, an author, international speaker, consultant, and advisor wrote his first song when he was in the hospital as a teenager fighting a debilitating infection – which led him on the path to becoming a creative thought leader. His books, his podcast, and his newsletter, and all of his work aligns with the same sense of purpose: to help people generate brilliant ideas. He shares his journey and his mission in the Tracking Wonder podcast “The Art of Leading Creatives.”
Everything, from his interviews, his collaborative projects, the way he talks about his business, and the way he works with customers, is done with integrity. His goal of helping people generate brilliant ideas shapes the way he does business. It is the center of his brand story. And it is a mission that ties his work, his marketing, and his customers together.
Why was the Amazon Alexa commercial “Alexa Loses Her Voice” so successful? It wasn’t because of the celebrities (though that certainly made it more appealing to its Super Bowl audience). It worked because Amazon deliberately shaped the Alexa brand. Alexa, an automated voice system, has a personality, a human likeness even though Alexa is not human. Because of this, Amazon has an opportunity to build out Alexa’s personality through various narratives. Each narrative becomes a part of your company’s brand story.
Not sure where to being? Start with mission. A mission must drive a business and ultimately lead your narrative to the right brand audience.