Your Brand’s story is what sets you apart, and yet in my experience, so many company founders shy away from telling the most compelling stories that live within their Brand. Sometimes they think the stories are boring, maybe they don’t make the effort to find them, or they are simply bored of the stories themselves.
My company exists with a greater purpose to change the mindset that ‘Brand’ is owned by the marketing department within a company. Instead, Brand is every single thing a company does. That’s why I write Brand with a capital B. It’s everything to a business.
Let me digress for a moment. Consider the ‘dead plant syndrome’. You walk into a spa for your appointment, and the plants around the reception area are dead. Everyone who works there is so used to seeing them, they don’t notice them anymore. But you do. And this sets a tone for that spa’s Brand, before you’ve even set foot any further into the building. The marketing department doesn’t water the plants. The pride and vision for the business should be set from the top down and with unfailingly consistency, so that the staff who do water the plants know their job is just as important as the founder’s in maintaining the brand’s consistency.
So, from how alive the plants look in the office (or the ones behind you on Zoom calls) to the tone with which customer service emails are answered to how your social media grid looks; it’s all your Brand. But, one of the most memorable elements to your Brand is the story behind it.
Stories are better than facts
Author Daniel H. Pink (A Whole New Mind) says ‘Stories are easier to remember, because in many ways, stories are how we remember.”
Once you have mined the stories out of your Brand (and every Brand has them, so don’t think otherwise), you have created an incredible opportunity to stand out.
So what kinds of stories can you find within your Brand?
Stories about a brand’s beginnings
We know Google started in a garage. Your brand story may not be as cliché as this, but even if it is, there is a twist that will make it unique. Maybe you left your high-powered investment banking career for your passion of creating hand painted stationary, or you sold your car to invest in the business you always dreamed of starting. There’s always a story – tell it.
Stories about your inspiration
In a past life, I handled publicity for many designers’ NY Fashion Week shows. The question every journalist asked every designer was, what inspired this collection? The designers would have answers that transported you to their favourite island in the Maldives or to their grandmother’s closet in a small Swiss village. They painted a picture with their words, and they used visuals to help tell the story. Taking inspiration from these designers as business founders can mean that you tell a memorable story about something you’ve created or something you are doing that will have people feeling something -and that is quite simply, memorable.
Stories about important products
A key part of the lore at Westin Hotels & Resorts is the origin of its much-celebrated Heavenly Bed. It was the Chairman and CEO of parent company Starwood at the time, who based the bed and its linens on his own bed at home. Rather than just saying your product or service is amazing, tell the story of your hero offering. Let’s imagine you have a skincare line. Rather than saying this is ‘an incredible new skin care system with all-natural ingredients, lead with ‘this is a new skincare line inspired by the founder’s childhood in Italy witnessing her grandmother and mother using only the most natural local ingredients on their glowing skin’.
Stories that customers tell each other
An old boss once told me that on a family vacation to a Four Seasons Hotel in the US, her young son left his prized teddy on the airplane and was understandably beside himself. After mentioning this in passing at reception, the family discovered at turn down service, milk and cookies and a cuddly new teddy in their room. A story that I remember 15 years after hearing it. I always think of Four Seasons Hotels as having premium service and this affirms it for me. Great service makes for great stories.
Stories about your people
Humans love human stories. Tell the unique stories of your people within the business. Social media is the most incredible medium for giving your brand personality and sharing the personalities behind it. Brands today that don’t feature any details of their employees can feel unapproachable and outdated. And this applies to both B2C and B2B businesses. Talk about the intern who just learned to roller skate in lockdown, or the head of growth and his love of perfecting his cheesecake recipe.
Bottom line, find your stories and tell them. And just when you’re starting to get sick of them is when your consumers and those you see as influential to your success are just starting to take note of your stories. And what do you do then? Keep telling them.
Storytelling your way to success
Every Brand sees the value in including PR in the marketing mix. The ‘free’ nature of it, along with the implied endorsement through media coverage, and the opportunity to say ‘As seen in <insert dream publication here> gets every founder excited. But for PR to be successful you have to be a storyteller. Finding the stories within your Brand and the people within your company that help to tell your story and bring to life what you stand for is the most valuable exercise you can do.
Where you can find me
About your author
Megan Matthews is owner at Instinct. Megan has been finding clarity and telling stories for brands across the globe for the last 20 years, working both in-house and in-agency in London, NYC and Toronto with some of the biggest names in beauty, wellness, travel, fashion and tech. Megan now finds herself drawn to working with female founders on their business journeys, bringing an understanding of a Brand’s unique positioning, how to live it through everything a business does and then telling the story to everyone who needs to hear it.
You can find out more about Megan and her business here.
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