1 vital strategy you need to be using right now to grow your business
As an entrepreneur or small business owner you’ve undoubtedly heard a ton about Brand. We use the word so much in fact that it’s beginning to lose any real meaning. But we need to understand exactly what it is because Brand is essential to any successful business. As a Vice President of Brand at the world’s largest communications firm, I am intimately familiar with Brand and exactly what it is (and is not!)
Brand goes beyond a logo or a website or a style guide. It isn’t just your colors or the look and feel of your social media profiles — it is so much bigger and more significant than that. Brand is the personality of your business; it is the emotion and feeling that is evoked when people interact with your product or service.
One of the best and most cited examples of a strong brand is Apple. Apple isn’t just an electronics company; it represents status, success and a sense of exclusivity for those who own Apple products. Brand is what differentiates your business from your competitors — and Brand is ultimately what is going to take your business to the next level.
So how do you build your brand? Again, as a business owner you’ve probably heard a million recommendations and “best practices.” But the one overarching principle that grounds all strong brands is storytelling. And I’m not talking about the history of your business or the biography of your CEO.
Storytelling in this case speaks to the story you tell around how your Brand can take your audience from where they are to where they want to be. All of your communication should convey a story — a character, a setting, a conflict, and a resolution — that conveys how what you do will help your audience (the characters) overcome the barriers that are holding them back (the conflict) from moving from their current situation (the setting) to their desired outcome (the resolution). This tactic should underpin everything you express externally. And by doing this, you’ll begin to develop a Brand that elevates you above anyone else in your industry.
Let’s go back to the Apple example. The iPhone burst onto the scene in 2007, when people didn’t even realize they needed something like an iPhone. Yet through the story Apple told, they began to illustrate a narrative that went beyond a phone as a productivity tool to iPhone as a key to unlocking the progressive, upwardly-mobile (no pun intended) life you deserve. This came in stark contrast to other popular phones at the time (ahem…remember Blackberry?) that focused totally on utilitarian outcomes. iPhone commercials and communications rarely showed users in offices or in situations where their phone is just a tool. iPhone ads showed people having fun, dancing, and living well, while having an iPhone in their hand. It was about lifestyle, not utility. It was about how the audience’s life would be impacted, not about Apple itself. By taking that storytelling approach, iPhone has become one of world’s most iconic lifestyle brands.
Now you may be thinking, “Brittany, this is all very nice but my company is not Apple and I don’t have an iPhone storytelling budget!” The great news is storytelling can be done in many ways and doesn’t require a ton of skill, time, or money. Storytelling through content creation is a powerful tool to directly reach your audience and move them through the buyer journey — and doesn’t have to break the bank or take up all your time to do it. Storytelling is not limited to long form videos, or even videos at all! One image post on social media can tell a story if done correctly.
By taking a bit of energy to focus on storytelling through content creation, you can transform your business by:
- Differentiating yourself from competitors and showcasing your expertise
- Deepening the connection with your audience from transactional to emotional
- Driving loyalty and ultimately advocacy among your existing clients and customers
I’m sure you’re already doing some form of content creation and sharing via social media. But are you telling a story? Are you focusing on how your product or service can help your audience reach their desired goals? Or are you focused totally on features and services, making it all about you?
By not focusing on creating story-driven content, you could be holding your business back from a new level of success. With authentic and truly audience-centric storytelling, you’re guaranteed to build your brand and ultimately grow your business.
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