Beyond Brand Story to Brand Storytelling

 

“There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don’t know.”  – Ambrose Bierce

What’s your story? Increasingly, brands are answering this question for employees and customers. In fact, the notion of storytelling is both everywhere and explicit. Headlines proclaim: Tell us your story. Learn about our story. Today, everyone has a story to share.

The concept of storytelling has always lived close to the core of communication. From the storybooks we read as children to the storylines that shape our news, narratives are how we make sense of the world around us.

A brand story, of course, is a special kind of tale. In simplest terms, it’s a narrative that turns a marketing strategy into a matter of deeper significance. It brings purpose and persona to a brand’s positioning – transforming biz speak into emotional connection.

Yet, as more brands define their stories, brand managers face the logical next question: What do you do with it? How do you put it to work? How do you migrate your story from sitting static on the page to leaping to life for people every day?

The answer lies in approaching brand story not as endpoint but as evolving process – not simply storyline but storytelling. Storyline is where ideas are put together. It’s in the telling that those ideas enter the life of your business, your employees and others.

Where a traditional story has a plot that unfolds, a brand story requires a plan that you enact. It’s through this coordinated program of tactics and tools that you turn your story’s animating spirit into practical applications. Among the key components are:

  • Voice – Strike an unmistakable tone to set your communications apart
  • Message – Translate your story into audience-specific messages
  • Behavior – Put your story at the core of employee action and decision-making
  • Recruitment – Use your story to appeal to essential talent
  • Measurement – Evaluate success and continually refine your story

Brand storytelling is not a static “piece of writing,” but a strategic process for bringing your brand to life, consistently and continuously. More than a one-time step, it’s an ongoing series of practices shaping how you manage and market your enterprise.

Answering “what’s your story?” only begins by defining the storyline itself. Brand story truly delivers on its purpose when its impact can be felt throughout the entirety of your business practices and across all your audiences. That is, when your story is fully told.

Copyright 2014, M Thomson, mark@thomsonbrands.com

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