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How to build your brand storytelling strategy.

For emerging brands with modest marketing budgets, to effectively leverage the magnetic power of their brand story requires a new approach far beyond conventional advertising executions.

It seems everyone in the marketing business these days has adopted the notion that brand storytelling is the new fangled thing. Of course storytelling is nothing new. What’s new is the dynamic and interconnected relationship between paid, owned and earned media to build awareness and engagement with your brand.

We live in the speed-of-light-digital-age with exploding technologies, fragmented media channels, shrinking attention spans, and ever more consumer control over what they allow into their heads. Brand stories form the very epicenter of these inter-connected media channels.

Your brand story is all the marketing you will ever need.

The power of a brand’s story lies in a singular idea anchored in shared values between your brand and your audience. This singularity is transcendent and unchanging over the entire life of your brand.

Your brand story is baked into your marketing and will outlive any advertising or promotional campaign. At its most fundamental level, your brand story is nothing more than an authentic truth that makes your brand highly valued by the audience and distinguished from all alternatives in the category.

However over time, brands tell many sub-stories nuanced for various audiences as the business grows. To remain relevant and credible, your brand must be guided by a strategic story platform that brings audiences ever closer to the brand’s core truth and value proposition.

This requires discipline–which for many business owners is a difficult habit to form. It’s far easier to promote, persuade and convince.

The trouble is the days of persuasion and selling are now long gone. Emerging brand owners must appreciate the reality no one cares and no one is listening. And nothing is more frustrating than to realize your limited financial investment in marketing is the sound of one hand clapping.

How to build your emerging brand storytelling strategy.

To understand why a brand storytelling strategy is useful and powerfully effective, it’s first important to understand what it is not. A brand storytelling platform is not a tagline; not an ad campaign; media strategy; not copywriting; not marketing communications; and not visual images.

A brand storytelling strategy is not customer/consumer-facing. Instead, it's a discipline and foundation that narrates and guides the relationship between a growing brand and its audiences.

Defining such a core strategy begins with careful research. It doesn’t have to be complex; in fact it begins with the basics– the audience, brand and category.

What’s going on with these factors? What don’t you know? Where are the drivers of brand relevance and resonance? Why does your story matter and to whom? These questions must be thoroughly probed and evaluated with the objectivity and rigor of journalistic and social science.

This type of exploratory investigation and observation will establish a baseline of facts for you to bring out your brand’s unique narrative.

But facts alone are not enough. You must also have real insight from intuition, knowledge, experience and empathy for your customer’s hero journey. To do that, everyone from every area and specialty of your business must gather in one place and have meaningful conversation and debate to determine:

the emotional drivers and connections your customers/consumers have that leads them to engagement and purchase in the category.your customer/consumer’s quest or hero’s journeythe core purpose for your brand to exist (beyond profit).the ways and venues customers/consumers encounter and experience your brand.the brand archetype that defines the personality and character of your brand.the “one and only” emotional benefit your customers receive from your brand that’s highly valued and can’t be matched anywhere else.

These discussions should be facilitated and represent every part of the company that influences the quality of your brand’s presence in the marketplace– executive management, sales, product development, operations, distribution, customer service and so on.

Rich insights from all stakeholders not only improves the quality and depth of the conversation, it also builds support and consensus for the desired outcome across the enterprise. This level of buy-in by all stakeholders is absolutely essential for success because an emerging brand’s story must first be deeply anchored with internal audiences if it is to translate and connect with external audiences.

The bottom line.

The new normal for emerging brand owners is about creating useful non-marketing-brand-owned content that tells a transcendent brand story and fosters long-term relationships with audiences. To do this effectively will require you to adopt disciplined strategic processes and storytelling techniques that unite your business goals and your brand attributes with deep audience desires, needs and passions.

The White Hot Center offers a full day creative workshop in Brand Storytelling Strategy specifically designed for early-stage and emerging growth brands.

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