Developing your brand ideals and crafting those into a solid brand story isn’t just something the marketing department does to connect with customers. It’s an underlying fundamental encapsulation of guiding principles that inform every decision you make, every direction you choose and every message you craft. Before it’s an outward story, it’s an internal one.
The most successful brands are genuinely loved by their loyal followers and are instantly recognised by those who’ve not yet engaged with the brand. These brands represent things to us that are not specifically articulated, but we come to associate certain thoughts, feelings, associations and expectations every time we experience them. This happens over time because the messages and the way we experience these brands, every time we come in contact with them, is consistent. A brand can’t claim that valuable real estate in the minds of their customers and audience without consistent messaging and although that’s a lot harder than it sounds, your brand ideals and a strong brand story is your knight in shining armour.
Imagine having a set of ideals, beautifully articulated and represented in ways that are accessible to everyone in the organisation on an every day basis. Imagine having the kind of culture where things could be that simple and that inspiring, because feeling part of something, understanding what our mission is and feeling confident in making decisions IS inspiring. In many ways it’s starting from the inside with how you want your brand to show up on the outside, and when you can harness those ideals and that story, there are many, many benefits beyond just ‘marketing’ a great brand story.
Here are just a few of the practical benefits that can flow from nailing your brand ideals and making them real in your business;
- Certainly referring to your brand ideals and your story, but going beyond that into internalising them, guides you in making the best decisions for your business when there are so many competing options with differing benefits. Your ideals and story are unique so measuring your options in terms of how well they align goes a long way in embedding that culture and feeding that story.
- Living your brand ideals and story keeps your message consistent. Whether they’re encapsulated in a few poignant words emblazoned on the wall, or a recurring whisper in your subconscious, contributing consistently to that story is critical in developing a strong brand.
- Embedding those ideals into your brand culture gives your employees an ideal to believe in and something tangible to be guided by. Everyone who represents that brand contributes to its story so be clear about what that story is and therefore how their contribution fits.
- Brand ideals and story together form a lighthouse that allows for excellent planning and scheduling - knowing the principles that underlie the story and the direction you want it to take means you can much more confidently map out a meaningful and reliable path for getting there.
- Being part of a story inspires greater creativity - clear direction coupled with strong ideals, can be just the right amount of constraint to get those creative minds to flourish. Even the most creative of creatives need some kind of direction and reason to hone their talents and make their work more meaningful.
- A strong brand story that encapsulates your ideals enables you to more easily, accurately and confidently identify peers and affiliates with whom to form alliances and synergies based on shared values and complimentary core beliefs. Not all competition is created equally, and strong, intelligent and meaningful alliances can help your brand achieve more than it could on its own. Imagine merging tribes with similar ideals and aligned stories.
- It’s not just your employees that contribute to your brand story - your customers do too and in fact are probably the most pivotal contributors. Continuing the evolution of that story through the input and contributions of your customers is the thing that gives them something real to connect and grow with. It’s not just about a brand and a brand story, it’s a story about them, something they’re part of and something they believe in.
- Leadership is underpinned by strong ideals. Your ideals crafted into a bespoke brand story is the secret sauce that enables you to be less reactive to your competition and gives you a framework for market leadership. Reacting to and following the pack might ensure your survival, but true potential is realised only when your brand is able to map its own path.
Brand story is more than just a marketing tool and your ideals are more than just a box to be checked during strategic planning sessions. Together they form the foundation for greatness, for leadership, belonging, for doing things that matter. They can and definitely should go beyond the conceptual and be harnessed as the most practical and valuable tool your business can invest in.
Don’t just ‘refer’ to your ideals and your brand story - make it your culture. Let those ideals be so ingrained, so integral, so normal in everyone who represents that brand, that they come through in everything everybody does. Incorporate and infuse those ideals into every aspect of your brand and let that story come alive, evolve and grow as a living, breathing organism. Then, and only then, will you have on your hands, a brand that will be impossible to ignore.