Emily Esfahani Smith writes, “Stories are particularly essential when it comes to defining our identity – understanding who we are and how we got that way.” She’s talking about people and our personal identities. Here’s the thing though, when it comes to business, it’s no different. When we meet someone, we often ask questions and inquire about them to get to know them better. We look to see if this is someone we could get along with and connect with. Again, business is no different. That’s precisely why brands with strong stories thrive. Shall we explore how?
1. Most brands don’t focus on their stories
Brands with strong stories thrive because they have a clearly defined business persons and, therefore, a clearly defined story to tell. It serves them as a guide and it can for you too. That’s because your business has its own identity. This can be a bit hard for some people to conceptualize, it was for me at first too. Especially so if you’re a one-woman show. However, you must think of your business as separate from yourself. Even if you started it all on your own with your own motivations and needs. Even if your business feels like a big and important extension of yourself.
I say this because, in reality, people don’t see businesses as an extension of their CEOs or founders but as its own entity. The reason brands with strong stories thrive is because their business’ stories are their own. They don’t mix personal feelings, problems and motivations with that of the business’. Or worse yet, treat it solely as a money-making venture and use making money as the guideline.
The reason I’m treating this as one of the four overlooked reasons why brands with strong stories thrive is that most people don’t think of creating a persona nor a story for their businesses. With this persona, it’s so much easier to define a story for your own business.
Creating a persona and crafting your own brand story
Take a minute and give your business a name like Karen, Arati or Paula Whatever you want it to be. However, I advise on not using your own name even if your company’s official name is your own – like it is for me and my business. (My business’ name is Zofia, it’s my Polish great grandmother’s). Then define her characteristic. For example, what are Karen’s goals? What are her strengths? What kind of people does Karen serve (aka your target audience)? What kind of people does she like to hang out with? And, what are her interest and dislikes? Get as detailed as you can. Treat it like you’re creating a profile of a friend, but it’s your business instead.
Your persona can be either a female or a male. And don’t only focus on the positive likes or do’s but also on the dislikes and don’ts. This will allow you to have a clearer picture of things to avoid as you’re making business decisions as well.
Once you start seeing this persona, it will be much easier to create that story. You will clearly see what Karen wants, what her background is and where she wants to go. Your brand story will unravel before your eyes.
The more time you spend on this, the stronger and detailed the brand story will be. Be real and thoughtful, and you will get an authentic story that can make a world of a difference in helping your company thrive. Use this as your brand guide to help define your brand story as time goes on. The first step in thriving as one of the brands with strong stories is to have one in the first place. It will change and adapt over time, of course, as things do. But you got to start somewhere!
2. Connecting with your audience on a whole new level
Last week I wrote about how not having a solid brand can hurt your business. Now that you’ve crafted your brand’s story and narrative you will be able to connect with your target audience more quickly, and efficiently. Brands with strong stories thrive because they have an advantage when connecting with their desired target audience. With a brand story, your target audience can easily determine if they like your company or not. This makes it so much easier for people, who your brand story suits, to determine that they yes, in fact, like your company very much.
Scientific studies show that people are wired for stories, and it’s true for connecting with business as well as with other individuals. People love to feel connected, period. Sharing your story is a sure way to not only attract your ideal clients but also do so at an impressive rate.
…we need to find ways to connect and bond effectively with our target audience. The best method for accomplishing this objective is to engage directly with customers in a personal way to demonstrate our appreciation and high regard.Alan Hall, Companies With The Best Stories Win: 10 Key Points For Telling Your Story
With your brand’s story well defined, you will be able to share it proudly and loudly. It will be heard in all of your messages from landing pages and partnerships to Instagram posts and ads. Delivering this story on a regular basis will make for the most reliable results. It’s going to reinforce the mission, vision, and values of your company, allowing like-minded people to connect with your business efficiently. And when I say connect, I also mean buy from and spread the word about your business too. The plus side is that you can start creating a cult-like following – similar to brands the like of Lululemon, ThirdLove or Harley Davidson – with a well-defined brand story.
3. Well established objectives and goals
To become one of the brands with strong stories means to give your company well-established objectives. It means giving your company clear goals. However, it also means achieving those goals will be easier for a variety of reasons.
First of all, companies often struggle with goal and objective setting. This is true for both big and small companies. Once you have crafted the persona for your brand, setting objectives and goals will be easier by pulling information from that persona. Let’s go back to Karen for a minute.
If Karen cares about improving and healing the lives of postpartum-depressed moms, the objectives can be a well-established by that desire alone. Her goals could be to help 10 moms a month or a 1,000,000 over the company’s lifetime. Or maybe even to open up online support groups. This will lead Karen, as a company, to use these objectives to drive her day to day business decisions and big initiatives. If a partnership or a Facebook ad doesn’t relate back to her objective or goals, it’s easier to dismiss it and focus on the ones that do.
Second, having these kinds of objectives – the ones that don’t solely focus on money but on an actual cause – is a great way to strengthen your brand story. With clearly defined goals, it will be easier for your company as a whole to stick to your mission, vision, and values. It will also be easier to fulfill your company goals not only for your target audience but also your employees, stakeholders, partners or so on.
Winning entrepreneurs bond emotionally with employees, investors, and customers–and dramatically increase their chances for funding and for long-term success–when they hone their ability to tell meaningful stories about their businesses.Alan Hall, Companies With The Best Stories Win: 10 Key Points For Telling Your Story
Companies that thrive practice what they preach. It’s too easy to spot companies, as a consumer, potential partner and even as a job applicant, that are all talk and seem to be full of shit. By the time a company becomes one of the brands with strong stories, they have been practicing what they preach for a long time. They really do put their money where their mouth is.
By creating a brand persona and crafting a brand story, a company can deliver the value their target audience is seeking. That’s powerful and sometimes even priceless.
4. Standing out among competitors
I’d like to think it’s no secret, but companies can no longer compete on price or features alone. Service provers cannot only compete on deliverables. In order to stand out from the competition, a brand must be unique. The easier way to figure out what makes your company unique is to give it a persona and create that brand story.
Like I’ve said before, brands with strong stories stand out because they know who they are. They attract their target audience because the target audience sees them as unique and like what they see. The connect with those brands because of their unique characteristics. Those values and those stories are how you not only stand out from the competition but become memorable within the market.
When a brand has a strong story, they use that to communicate to the world what makes them unique and sets them apart. It can be clearly felt in their marketing campaigns from their landing pages to their Facebooks ads and everything in between. Communicating the brand story becomes second nature as does communicating what sets your brand apart. Without a persona, and without a brand story, expressing what makes your company the better choice is so much harder. That’s precisely why so many companies default to price and feature comparisons. It’s because they don’t know what makes them special and unique.
Stories are crucial for people to connect with others and it also means connecting with businesses as well. As consumers, we see companies as their own entities. This gives you an opportunity to craft a persona and a story for your business. It gives you a chance to become a memorable and valued company. It’s significantly easier to stand out from the crowd and offer value-based services instead of competing on price.
Brands with strong stories thrive and grow because they know what the company values and stands for. In the end, that’s how they win over the hearts of their target audience over a shared cause or a belief.