Branding was once all about the fine art of telling people what you do, who you are and what differentiates you, your company and your product or service from the competition. Now we live in a world of brands like Patagonia, Sonos, Slack, DropBox, Philips, Cisco and LinkedIn.
Stories make us human. They are relatable. They engage prospects on a personal level. We hear them and naturally relate them to our own lives in some way causing us to have an emotional reaction. How, what and where we communicate directly impacts what customers think, feel and do about your business. Do they try, buy and tell their friends, or do they ignore? When we craft a powerful brand story and share those key messages in a relatable way across all aspects of our marketing, we are letting people know what we are about – what we stand for, why we do what we do and who we do it for, so THEY can decide how being associated with our products and services will make them feel. They form their own opinions and they decide.
No doubt that if you're even remotely interested in this subject you have noticed dozens of articles written about crafting your brand "story." Try Googling "brand story," and over five million results show up. Even more if you Google "what is branding."
So, why the interest in something that many small to mid-size businesses assume that they already fully understand, don't need, can't afford or all of the above? Remember that your brand speaks volumes. It’s an increasingly complex, crowded and noisy world out there. Without a well-defined brand story, you are just another face in the crowd competing for customers, clients and attention.
Actual branding has been around for hundreds of years, although the concept has changed and morphed into what it is today. Social media and the continual rise of the Internet are driving the next stage of branding as consumers clamor to participate with companies. Customers spend an exorbitant time on their phones and in social media. If you are not where your customers are, you don’t exist. Companies are also scrambling to build an active and loyal customer base. Search engine optimization, viral marketing, outsourced delivery and branding now allow small and medium-sized businesses to gain visibility without spending a fortune on advertising and infrastructure. However, it's your brand that connects the dots.
Crafting a brand story is the first step for new and emerging companies, a new product launch or a rebranding effort being done by a well-established brand to gain and retain recognition. It is, in essence, the sum of people's perception of a company's purpose, their customer service, marketing, messaging and reputation. If done well, you'll set building blocks in place that allow your business to thrive. Your procurable clients will show up simply because they like what you stand for, what you do and the story you share.
Many businesses, however, concentrate on explaining what they do, product features, benefits and services while never stating why they do it. The “why” is what makes an emotional connection with the people who matter the most to your business - your clients and customers. Keep in mind that your brand story can:
… and so much more.
Your story communicates your vision for how you believe the world should be, and naturally attracts those who believe what you believe.
Branding is a vital (and often overlooked) component when differentiating your business from your competition and establishing yourself as a leader in your industry. Just like running a successful business takes hard work, so does creating and maintaining a healthy brand.
Your brand story can generate results and increase the perceived value of your product or service. Your brand can earn the loyalty of your customers or clients and communicate your purpose and vision. Some of the largest and most successful companies in the world have heartfelt stories that instill meaning into what they do, such as Coca-Cola, Nike or Google themselves. Each has become an industry icon because of their brand identity. Instead of just another "me too" brand, they have risen above the crowd all because people remember a good story.
The good news for smaller businesses is that a brand story doesn't have to be expensive, but it will take some effort on your part. Since people will buy products or services from a brand that appears trustworthy and legitimate, you will want to be sure your brand story is polished and authentic and worth sharing.
A great brand story is what draws in your audience and peaks their interest. It makes an emotional connection and elicits a response that compels them to want to connect and be associated with what the brand stands for. Your brand story is your corporate strategy. It’s the springboard for everything else. For many small and medium-sized businesses just getting started is the hard part. We're here to help. At HGX Creative, we work with businesses that are in the startup, restart or refresh stage of their business life cycle when they typically begin to form, rebuild or rejuvenate their brand and need our assistance to bring it all together.
We are not only qualified, but we've walked in your shoes, and we've "been there, done that" many times, both for ourselves and for our clients. Now, we're partnering with Alexis Kopikis, founder of Alexify, to improve our techniques for crafting a compelling strategic narrative that resonates with your customers as part of the brand development and brand building work we do. Alexis has more than 20 years of strategic storytelling and has worked with more than 40 companies crafting messaging that captures attention, builds loyalty and establishes core positioning.
We will work hand in hand to ensure that you have the information you need to embrace and understand the value in creating a compelling brand to capture market attention and compete in today's marketplace. Why stand alone, when you can stand head and shoulders above the rest? Your story begins here.