The 3 Brand Story Must-Haves for Sustained Impact in 2020
Have you noticed the growing shift towards organic, sustainable and responsible goods?
Consumers are increasingly more conscious of what they buy. And they want to know the brand they are buying from. Now, more than ever before in history, brand stories are scrutinized.
For a brand story to resonate in this era of conscious consumption, it needs three cornerstones (yes, it’s a triangle). We will get into these three brand story must haves shortly.
The parallels of effective communication and marketing
It’s 4am and I’m sitting quietly on the rug on my bedroom floor. My zafu has me propped up straight. I have earbuds in, and I’m watching a lecture on my phone.
This window is an opportunity to learn, which I am passionate about, before my little boy awakes. The teacher in this course is my new favourite. His unique style has opened a rich new world into a language I have struggled with for years.
In this lecture, where he artfully dissected a single phrase, he sets the stage by introducing the three components to effective communication. While the subject of the lecture isn’t marketing or branding, this introduction connects profoundly for me and what we do at The Sponge.
The three components he covers are:
- Content — what you have to share, with an emphasis on real substance as opposed to idol chatter.
- Style — how you deliver the content. Personality, emotion, and tone affect how you make the receiver of the content feel.
- Audience — who you are sharing the content with. Different audiences require different depths, or variations of content and different styles of delivery.
The examples he shares expand on these nicely.
Beginning with a US politician rambling for 45 minutes about his childhood to run the clock down during a congressional hearing to avoid answering the simple yes or no question he was called in for. Clearly not delivering the right content.
The teacher moves on to the next example. Imagine your favourite meal is cooked for you by a loved one. And after an exhausting day for them the meal lacks salt. Your style of delivering this need for more salt could start with a compliment on flavor and gratitude for effort, followed by a small request for more salt to make the meal exceptional. Or, a blunt emphasis on what is missing, with no recognition of the effort expended for you, and possibly earning you the night on the couch.
He then references the different types of students in his class. There are those who, with a quick instructional word in their ear, immediately get a concept and are off to work. And there are those that need to hear it again, and again, and again, spelled out and with diagrams, before they get it. Different audiences, requiring very different content and styles.
Correlation to Effective Brand Storytelling
I am nodding along to the examples in agreement. Because effective marketing is effective communication. And these simple concepts correlate to what we do (and teach) in our Impact Brand Story model. Only ours is the three cornerstones for effective brand storytelling. Here’s how they correlate:
- Content — Impact
- Style — Brand
- Audience — Buyers
Understanding each part intimately enables your brand to effectively communicate.
Impact (content) — A relevant, positive impact model infused into your offering
Brand (style) — A well defined brand culture (purpose, values, core story)
Buyers (audience) — A keen understanding of your buyer personas
Here are some examples from my organisation to bring these to life for you. See if they resonate for you.
The Sponge is an organisation where the whole team share a common purpose and core values. These fundamentals of our brand culture have been clearly articulated, refined and ingrained into the way the organisation operates. A unified language has been developed which enables every team member to communicate in our awesome brand personality, tone and style. It helps each of us create a consistently awesome customer experience, from emails to calls, and face to face. This is getting the communication style right.
There are those who need what we have to offer and hold similar values to our organisation. And there is everyone else (who we must resolve not to waste time and resources on, as they don’t connect with our story). Understanding precisely who those are, who align with us, is so powerful. We know what motivates them, what they value, and what is going on for them — at the moment our offering becomes a priority for them. It enables us to work out exactly what needs to be said, and how. We are able to communicate directly, with empathy, not putting them off with generalities, or terms that don’t connect for them. This is knowing your audience.
We’ve been developing our impact model progressively over the past two years. It began as a simple orphan sponsorship because that was dear to my heart. While it’s a great thing to do, and we continue to do it, it isn’t connected to what we do as a business. That’s why we have invested so much energy to continuously shape it.
Our purpose is to help good businesses become better brands. The outcome we seek for all those we help, is that their brand story and marketing is so damn good, that it helps them achieve massive business success. With their impact model baked in, that translates to massive positive impact.
There are many founders who are struggling with their brand story, doing amazing things, but without the budget to engage us. We can’t sit by and let that be the reason they don’t succeed. So we have developed three ways we can help. Our three streams of positive impact.
Teach — Our Monthly Marketing Munchies. A free online workshop where we deconstruct an essential marketing topic in 20 minutes and back it up with a 20 minute Q&A.
Coach — Our Online Advanced Brand Story Crafting Program, free to cash strapped impact businesses of all kinds via our $10 million Impact Karma Seed.
Do — Brand or marketing projects are expertly handled by our team. While not free, funds are matched via our Double the Goodness Grant up to $10,000.
These are a work in progress and in the past have only been shared via our blog. We have now formalised them into a new Impact section on our website. There are pages for each stream, and a running impact measurement, which we are updating regularly. We are also looking at ways to map these impact streams to the UN Global SDGs. This is a topic that fascinates us and is an ongoing conversation.
How these streams are relevant
You may be aware that we choose to work with organisations who have a positive social or environmental impact, or the intent to come on that journey with us. And who generate healthy profits. This combination is important as it means sustained positive impact.
Can you see how these impact streams are related to what we do? And how they align with who we work with?
They make far more sense for our team, and are more aligned to our purpose and values than our orphan sponsorship (which we continue to do). The storytelling of this impact is beginning for us now and only time will tell us what our clients feel about co-creating the impact with us. We are confident they will connect with it, because they connect with us.
Where to start with your impact brand story?
Yes, I said impact brand story. It is the sum total of the three elements. And what will set you apart.
Like navigating any path, you need to start by knowing exactly where you are. Getting your bearings. Then you can map out a course.
We have a tool to help your brand with that. It’s our brand story audit. We review an exhaustive list of elements from your brand against the three criteria we’ve been exploring in this post, plus one more: Design. Because your brand collateral has got to look awesome too! We are a branding agency after all 😉
The report we produce includes scores for each item you submit, across each criterion, and an overall score and commentary on how best to improve each item. We prioritize each element and provide an action plan to work through to get you where you need to be. The ultimate goal is a rich, authentic brand story that communicates effectively and consistently throughout all your materials.
We also include an hour long consultation to discuss the report to ensure you have clarity and we answer every question.
Curious about what this would look like for your brand?
Check out the free brand story audit worksheet and guide we have produced for you to explore and try doing the audit yourself. Then get in touch and we can take care of it for you.