consistency in brand story

Brand story - not just for your customers, but a road map to success through consistency

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. 

Your brand story is not for everyone

Within every brand story are its core benefits, beliefs and values. The story begins with these, they’re its foundation, at the heart of the matter and they represent the core of why a brand exists. The reason developing that story is critical in developing a brand that people want to engage with and which they will come to love is all about the things that make us human. Truly loved brands are those that go beyond doing and making stuff to doing stuff that matters to people and making them feel good about having that brand in their lives.

 

When you first start thinking about your brand’s values, beliefs and ideals, it can be daunting and confusing. It’s not something that’s going to bring any benefit if done superficially, you have to go deep. Going deep and getting real about why it is you do your thing and why it’s important people know about your thing and the message you’re bringing to the world is sometimes confronting for people. It feels hard to think about something that deeply, but stick with it. Take the time and the effort and keep at it until you start some momentum because once you get some flow, once you start hitting on the things that really matter to you, it gets much easier and you know you’re getting there.

 

The reason it starts to feel much easier is because you’re starting to touch on core values and ideals that resonate and reflect your own values and ideals. Your business doesn’t have to have the same core values as you do personally, but they will and should resonate with and reflect your own. When you start to feel that, you’re onto something you genuinely care about and the reason this is important to distill is because these are the things that other people will resonate with and care about. It’s that human connection and reflection of values that’s at the heart of every really outstanding and truly loved brand.

 

The reason you have to take the time and energy into drawing out your brand ideals is of course because it’s the thing that people connect and identify with, but that won’t be possible unless you’re able to communicate those values and ideals in a way that people understand and resonate with. It’s no good to create a heart-drenched mission with your values and ideals meticulously set out if no one knows about it. That’s why you have to turn that mission into a story and that story becomes your map, your guide, your beacon and your message in every single thing you do. Your brand story is what wraps up your brand values and ideals and gives them to your customers and clients in a way that connects with and reflects their values and ideals.

 

Your brand story, therefore, is not for everyone. Not everyone will understand, connect with and resonate with that story and that’s ok because it’s not about pleasing the masses. What it is about is being crystal clear, stoically true and utterly committed to the ideals that underpin the very existence of your brand, your business. That’s the human thing about business and the only thing that makes business real; human relationships. Being authentic and solid in who you are doesn’t attract or please everyone; not everyone will like it and in fact, many won’t like it at all. But what it can do is initiate the potential for deep connection, engagement, loyalty and trust based on shared values. 

Photo credit: Image by tsg1 via pixabay

Consistency matters

Happy employees make a difference to the customer experience. We hear it all the time and I’m constantly writing about the importance of starting inside with what’s important, crafting that into a meaningful brand story and telling it in every way possible, including through your staff and how much they buy into and feel they represent that story. It’s important because people connect with emotion, and it has to be real. People care less about stuff and more about how they feel. Much, much more.

 

I know that it’s for this reason that it’s next to impossible to stand out and make a difference with tactics designed to interrupt people and strategy designed to get attention when it’s not based on something that comes from the heart. Getting noticed is pretty useless anyway unless people actually believe what you’re saying. Creating messages that actually mean something to people is important because our number one goal is to connect and engage. Because well, that’s what people do. That’s how we are and have always been. 

 

But your ‘messages’ aren't just the things you write; your copy, your slogans, your catch-phrases, your advertising. Your message is in everything. EVERYTHING. Every contact your customer has with you or your business and your brand, sends a message. If you want to be believed, then that message needs to be consistent. That is, you need to tell the same story in everything you do.

 

My inspiration for thinking about consistency of story and brand message came from a recent experience with a plumbing supplier. I’ve been renovating my bathrooms and walking that line between creating a thing of beauty and not blowing the budget … too much :) I’d finally found a mixer that I actually liked and which was in my budget because it had been heavily discounted as a discontinued item. The matching bath spout however was in Palmerston, NT and was one of only two left in the country. This was no problem though because the staff were very diligent in organising it to be sent to Perth, and even when it took a wrong turn and ended up in Adelaide, they kept me posted and assured me they’d get it to me. And they did.

 

When I went into the store to pick it up, not only did the lady who was looking after me do a brilliant job of making me feel looked after on top of everything she’d already done, but about 3 other employees at varying times during my visit, commented jovially about this bath spout, one of the last of its kind, doing a tour of Australia before it ended up here. They were happy I’d got it because they knew how important it was to me and do you know how that made me feel? It made me feel really happy because I felt like they really cared.

 

As I left the store, amidst wishes of “Enjoy!” and “See you next time”, I noticed the company’s brand message on the wall. It said, “Bathroom Happiness”. And I thought to myself, damn right. I am happy. I love the bath spout, but I loved the way I was treated more … and I believe them. I believe them when they say they create bathroom happiness because that’s what I felt. It wasn’t the bath spout, or the brand message, it was the connection those employees created with me that made me believe their story. They were consistent.

 

Consistently telling your brand story in everything you do is what fosters trust and loyalty, over time. Authentically making real connections is what makes people feel what you want them to believe. Otherwise, it’s just words. 

Photo credit: "Life for me ain't been no crystal stair" by downing.amanda via Flickr