The foundation for creative and longlasting brand communication and corporate storytelling starts with your Core Brand Story. Here’s how you find yours!
It’s Monday morning, at 8 am sharp, you haven’t had your flat white yet. You’re sleepily standing in the office elevator when suddenly your dream client walks in. The decision-maker of your favorite brand you’ve always wanted to work with. Your journey together lasts only one minute … what do you tell him?
You may know this scenario as an Elevator Pitch, which plays a central role in the startup world. They are used to pitch a product or company in a short time. Even established brands can learn from this process and face the challenge of explaining their company’s purpose in a few sentences that capture the essence of who they are and what they stand for. Because when it comes down to making a lasting impression, it’s not enough to tell people what you offer at which price. If you want to connect with your audience – may it be one client in an elevator or your fanbase on Instagram – you have to address something more essential. You have to tell your Brand Story.
In this lesson, you will learn how to find and tell your brand story. A Brand Story is based on a few carefully crafted sentences that capture the essence of what, how, for who, and why your brand does, what it does. If it’s done right, that core story will not only ignite a whole range of creative ideas and story adaptations in advertising, media products, and of course storytelling. It will also be a guide, your compass, with which you can find due north for all communication measures.
A core story helps your company, personal brand, product, or service to match the needs of your audience Your story lays the foundation for continuous storytelling throughout channels, campaigns, and different mediums.
Your Brand Story serves several purposes for different stakeholders:
Simply put: your Brand Story makes people care.
… be memorable
… solve relevant problems
… communicate values
… build a connection with people
We will now define your brand’s core story. It’s a few sentences that define what you do, what you stand for, and, most importantly, why you do what you do. All you have to do is to fill out the blanks in this template. Even though we just add a couple of words, we have to choose them wisely. Let’s give it a try – you will find the templates and directions on how to use the tools in the workbook for this lesson.
Find your own Brand Story:
For each Spot on class, we provide workbooks to simply memorize what you have learned and apply it to your brand. Just leave us your email address and get access to the workbook.
This workbook contains:
For every story, we need a protagonist. A hero. This is what many companies get wrong, right from the start: the hero is not you. Not your product. It’s your customer. Make your customers the hero and they will identify with your story.
Defining your audience is more than just listing socio-demographic characteristics such as age, income, marital status, or hobbies. Using the customer persona template from the workbook, you will find that other characteristics are even more important – like your customer’s problems and their background, possible solutions you could offer, their media behavior, and much more. You can fill out your persona profile with the knowledge of your marketing and sales team as well as using insights from your audiences e.g. on social media.
Don’t worry about getting it right the first time. A customer persona will grow over time and should be updated with more information after each campaign or new customer experience. The personas give you an idea of what to tell a specific audience to get them engaged with your brand. With the right message for each target audience, you address their needs and wishes.
Based on the persona you can identify the biggest problem of your target audience. That can be something simple, like saving time by skipping a few steps in a process, and sometimes it’s a very personal matter like getting more self-esteem by using your product.
The problem your brand solves is much more than a USP or a product feature. It’s something that clients really care about.
This is easy. The solution you offer is simply the USP or product features, right? Well, it’s more complicated than that. Your brand or product consists of a lot of different features and aspects which vary in importance to each customer segment. Take the famous example of a milkshake from a well know fast food joint. Shakes are bought when people want something sweet or a dessert … but why did so many people order to-go-milkshakes early in the morning in the car lane? Turns out your shake is also a full breakfast you can very conveniently be consumed while driving. Discoveries like that offer a new perspective on products, highlighting a specific aspect. So there’s a new story to your shake: It’s desert. It’s sweets. And it’s breakfast! A new solution to a customer problem, a new story.
What does your audience need?
Keep in mind to check with your target audience what kind of solution they are looking for in your brand. Sometimes things you didn’t expect are the most valuable to them. Make them the solution in your story. You can have a core story for your whole brand and stories for certain products or services. Your Brand Story is the overall narrative that spans throughout your entire communication, while product stories can vary depending on the audience you address.
Here comes the big one: why is your brand doing what it does?
That’s a hard question. Please don’t shy away from giving a very personal or even philosophical answer. It’s easy to be a hard-ass cynical person and just say you’re doing it for the money. Invalid answer! No one who is really good at what she/he does is doing it for money. They do it because they believe it’s worth it. Because they are passionate about it. Because they believe they can make a change.
So try and dig deep here. Do you want to spread joy, give knowledge, or empower people? It sometimes helps to take an imaginary trip into the future and then look back at your life’s work. What was your impact on people? Or to loosely quote the Swiss author Max Frisch: “What do you want to have been?”
Your reason why is the most important factor when it comes to connecting brands with people. It’s nothing that helps you sell more ice cream or sneakers. But it’s what makes people come back, in the long run, become fans of your brand and stay loyal.
Congrats, you finished your core Brand Story. A few lines that capture your mission as a company. So, what to do with it? What you’re holding in your hands (or on your screen) is a prototype. The igniting spark that will light up your communication. Now work with it.
The most obvious application is to use it for your website in the about-section or as a mission statement. You can also drop it as taglines in your social media accounts. But it’s more of a foundation on which new stories and adaptations will evolve from. Give your core story to your sales team and let them come up with a pitch based on it. Hand it to the creative department, they will know how to tell it in a hundred different ways.
Most of all, your Brand Story will be used as a filter, a check-up for future presentations of any kind. Two years from now, when you are about to decide on a new campaign, pick up your core story and check if you can find it within the campaign. This way, it will work as a foundation and inspiration for future communication.
Your core Brand Story is the foundation of your brand storytelling, also known as corporate storytelling. You can adapt it to various forms of stories, either for your clients or your coworkers, such as …
Now go and tell your story. You will feel more secure and proud of what you are working for now that you know your who, what and why. Even if you haven’t reached your goal, your mission, yet: your Brand Story is a self-fulfilling prophecy; you will become what you aim for.
Founder & Creative Director of Sweetspot Studio
With his Hamburg-based Design studio, Marc helps brands to find their sweet spot. The Sweetspot Studio specializes in developing media products, contemporary storytelling, and commercial arts.