Ever get the impression that no one is listening to your brand messaging? Imagine a room full of people all talking at the same time. You weave your way through the crowd unable to focus on any of them because they all seem to be saying the same thing.
That’s what your clients are thinking when they’re searching for the services that you offer.
Compare your business to your competition. You’re just another clone. You’re standing on the same soapbox, saying the same thing, and what you’re saying really isn’t that interesting.
This wasn’t the plan.
You were going to be different. When you opened your business, you knew what you wanted to say and you came out of the gates with gusto and whit.
But that was a long time ago, in a land far, far away. Your branding doesn’t seem to shine as much these days.
Your message doesn’t have that energy it once had and you’ve noticed your competitors are now using your talking points to promote their own work.
How did this happen? Why isn’t it working?
Is your epic marketing plan feeling muted, like a movie made for television rather than the silver screen? This may be because the assumptions you built your plan on were weak. Think about it. You assumed that:
- You knew what your clients wanted.
- Every customer would react the same.
- You had to please them all.
- Every customer knows what makes your product different.
Assumptions are necessary or we would be paralyzed with inaction. Unfortunately, as marketing expert Dany Iny teaches in this article on ThinkTraffic, those assumptions become the base of your branding platform and translate into your marketing; your website, print material, and social media campaigns.
I’m sure you’ve already noticed it and tried to fix it. Sweeping changes were needed. You tried new talking points and probably had to find a better way to communicate your thoughts to your clients.
At first you made minor adjustments, ones that you could do yourself with minimal costs. You tried a Facebook campaign and made monthly or even daily changes to get the perfect pitch.
When you realized that your efforts played out like a failed movie script requiring more edits, you tried experts, so called specialists with authority who knew what they were talking about. They said you had to change your scheme and override with flashy ads and pricey campaigns. And yet, it still didn’t work.
Are you ready to pull out your hair? What is the answer?
The goal of branding is to differentiate yourself from the competition, to build a taller soapbox, start speaking a different language, to resonate more with your target audience.
Try looking at the problem from a different direction. Think of your business like a movie or a novel and realize there are good ones, that truly resonated with their audience such as the Titanic which grossed $2,207,615,668 worldwide or the novel version of The Davinci Code with over 5 million copies sold and there are disasters like Mars Needs Moms which lost $130 million.
5 Novel Ideas
1. Who’s Telling Your Story?
Who is the main character anyway? Perspective is an amazing thing. In every story, whether it’s a movie or novel, there is one protagonist. It isn’t always the hero, but at least someone whose perspective will add to the conversation and keep the story relevant. A weak protagonist won’t engage your audience and they will become distracted.
With a compelling perspective for your brand, you will establish a rapport with your clients as they imagine themselves in your footsteps.
A single perspective will teach your team to add value through their own interactions with your clients and on social media so they reinforce your message and keep your audience engaged.
2. What Makes A Good Story?
There are 8 elements of storytelling as defined by Nigel Watts:
- The quest
- Critical choice
By using these 8 elements of storytelling in your branding, you make your story more cohesive, compelling, and believable. Each element lends to the next, stacking on until your story naturally leads to its conclusion.
You can then use the 8 elements to break down the plot and give your brand a narrative that draws an audience in to cheer for your brand. So caught up in the story, they will gladly open their wallets to secure the ending you have painted for them.
3. What Is Your Focus?
Ever notice that some stories are just bloated? You try to keep up with all of the characters, but there are so many that you can’t tell the difference between them.
A great story has only a few different plots, and even then there is only one main plot. The story stays focused to keep the audience engaged.
When it comes to your branding, try a simple story that compels your audience to ask, “What’s next?” Keeping them on the edge of their seat will be far easier with a single plot than violently forcing them to follow one after another.
4. Do You Know An Editor?
There are many types of editors, developmental, content, and copy editors. Each have their purpose.
- Developmental editor: More like a coach, this editor ensures the big picture progress is made.
- Content editor: This editor ensures your content is cohesive and you haven’t made an adjustment in the beginning that negates the end. They keep your voice consistent as well.
- Copy editor: Grammar, rhetoric, and a few facts along the way, the copy editor makes sure that your work is readable. Possibly the most important editor, they make sure that your article or branding make sense to you audience.
A few mistakes in your brand marketing are usually overlooked, but the same can’t be said for a sloppy message because you were unwilling to hire an editor.
5. Who Doesn’t Love A Sequel?
Any good story leaves the audience asking for more. The audience revisits the characters in their minds for days, imagining what was next. And sometimes, the audience is rewarded with a sequel as the writer delves back into the world they’ve created.
Try leaving an open loop with your branding. What would Apple have done if they stayed with computers alone? And where would the world be if G.E. was still only making light bulbs?
How Does This Work For Me?
Crafting your brand strategy as a story engages your audience on a higher level. They will root for you, wishing for your success and the small nuances will reinforce their views of your brand so when it’s time to buy, they won’t look elsewhere. They will look to you like the dog-eared classic they pull out for comfort and direction.
My editor had a truly inspiring exercise for me that I ask my clients to use now and then. Imagine two people in a room. Put yourself inside the head of the one on the left during an argument. What is going through their head as the scene plays out? What are they thinking as the other person screeches like a banshee?
Now, do the same for the other character. What was the second person thinking during the exchange? Explore the differences of opinion and observation that each has with the same situation.
Keep this in mind as you craft your brand story so you can affect how your audience experiences that story.
Once you have an idea of how your audience will react, move on to the elements of storytelling. Every story doesn’t have to be epic, only compelling and engaging.
Focusing on the message makes it clear and concise so your audience knows what their next step is.
Editors aren’t always easy to find and many will tell you that you get what you pay for, so even if you aren’t using a copy writer to craft your story, paying one to copy-edit can be the difference between saying, “I love your hat, and I love you rhat.”
And finally, always be thinking about your next interaction. What is the next step for your brand? Are you looking to expand or keep the status quo?
What about you? Who’s the hero of your brand story?
Latest posts by John Kent (see all)
- 5 Reasons You Should Brand Your Business Like Writing a Novel - October 25, 2016