Identifying your brand story is one of the most important things you can do to connect your product with the wider world. Whether your target audience is consumers, fellow businesses, or health professionals, they all have one thing in common: they’re people, and they’re inspired by experiences. The story of your brand helps the product grow past its functionality, allowing you to reach beyond what it does and towards how it makes your customers feel.
Customers want to know what you stand for. Finding your brand identity will personify your product and give it a belief system, helping you align the output with your company’s overall mission.
So, how do you get started? Most likely, you have some soul-searching to do. Read on to see the steps you can take today to discover who your brand is, and how you can communicate that to the people it was created for.
Step 1: Get insight
It’s time for a deep dive. What are your competitors doing? How are they talking about their brands—what are the logos, the colors, the campaigns? Comb through their websites and get it all on a PowerPoint slide, or print it out and group by competitor on the walls of a room. For each brand, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are they trying to communicate about themselves?
- If I were the target audience, how would these ads make me feel?
- Is this unique compared to the other ads in the room? What’s similar? What’s different?
Answering these questions will give you insight into what spaces you can play in to create a brand story that sets you apart from the competition.
After this, dig into your customer base. Do some market research to figure out what they’re inspired by and what makes them take action. This can be done through an in-depth analysis from a market research company, or a simple survey to a core group of customers. Getting to know as much as you can about your buyer will help you tailor a brand story that resonates with them.
Step 2: Find the feeling
When people see your brand, how do you want them to feel? Market and customer insights can help with this by revealing the feelings that other brands are stirring up, and the feelings that would actually motivate customers to buy.
Start with succinct descriptive words, like “warm” and “empowering,” and then build out the feelings from there—getting as specific to a moment in time as you possibly can. For example:
- A specific version of warm could be: cozy underneath a blanket, sipping hot cocoa in front of a fireplace.
- A specific version of empowering could be: just got off a roller roaster and feel like I can do anything.
The more specific you get, the more you’ll be able to feel what your brand is going for, giving you a barometer to measure your brand story and all resulting activation against. If it doesn’t achieve the feeling, then you know it still needs work.
Step 3: Personify
Now that you have the insights and the feeling, it’s time to discover exactly who your brand is. To do this, specificity is (once again) key—and believe it or not, famous people come in handy.
Pick a person who stands for something in culture and aligns with the feeling you established in step 2. For example:
- My brand is Jane Goodall. It is scientific, caring, and adventurous, and it has a strong sense of femininity in a masculine dominated market.
- My brand is Beyonce. It’s a cool, cultural icon with immense talent, and it’s spontaneous—dropping albums with no preannouncement.
- My brand is Robert Downey Jr. It’s a funny, kind of smooth-talking Superhero, and it gives off a reformed bad-boy vibe as it works towards justice.
Once you have your feeling and person, you now have the tone of your brand—the ultimate tool for building all communications. With tone in mind, you know how your brand should sound, as well as the emotions it should evoke when presented to customers.
Step 4: Define the good you do
Here’s a little secret: altruism is in. It’s not enough for brands to merely hold a positive message—they have to be bringing value to the world at large to really thrive in the marketplace.
So, take another look at your brand’s functionality. What’s the problem that your brand is solving, and how does that affect the rest of the world? Knowing this will give your brand a purpose, a rallying cry, and put the person you’ve discovered your brand to be behind a cause that resonates—creating a full connection between product and consumer.
Step 5: Story time
Now you’re ready to roll this all up into a unique brand story. We recommend doing it in the form of an elevator pitch, which are three sentences that utilize the tone you developed in steps 1-3 to summarize the work you did in step 4. Here’s the structure we’ve seen yield the best results:
- Sentence 1: Problem that needs solving
- Sentence 2: How the brand is solving it
- Sentence 3: How that solve is building a better world
From there, you can elaborate or trim down to your heart’s desire. We’ve seen some brands build out into an entire PowerPoint presentation, creating a dramatic brand story that was customer facing. We’ve also seen brands condense even further, putting the story into a single sentence that got at the heart of their entire offering.
But above all, we’ve seen these stories create intuitive buyer journeys—making brands meaningful while informing every aspect of their activation.
Remember: it’s never too late to reinvent
We’ve helped clients at all different phases of a brand’s life cycle discover this story, from pre-launch products to those that have been on the market for a while. Even if you’ve been working with a particular narrative for a number of years, it’s not too late to re-evaluate and re-strategize. In modern-day markets that are constantly shifting, sometimes it’s necessary to refresh every couple of years to make sure that your brand is truly resonating with your audience.
And if you want to walk through this with someone, we run workshops in which we help our clients identify all these elements and more—synthesizing the outputs and creating brand stories back at our home base.
Reach out here if you have any questions, or if you want help discovering the soul of your brand.