Your brand story is your best friend—the business partner who draws customers and clients to you like seagulls to hot chips.
We talk about brand stories all the time, because they’re at the core of our business. So we thought we’d spend a few blog posts talking you through what brand stories are, why they're important to your business, and how to go about creating and communicating your brand story.
If that sounds boring, then you’re in for a treat. I’ll include diagrams that are so bad they’re good, and before you know it, your brand story will be boosting your business.
So… what’s a brand story?
We’ll start with what branding is.
Branding is everything that makes up and communicates the identity of your business.
You know how Texans in big hats would use a branding iron to put a mark on their cows to help identify them?
Well, businesses use images, ideas, colours, words—all kinds of things—to help people identify them. That’s branding.
(We’re not fans of pressing hot iron into skin, and promise not to do it to you, but it’s a helpful analogy.)
Your brand is everything that communicates what your business is, so that people don’t confuse it with another business. Your logo, the ‘About Me’ page on your website, the photos you use, the way you describe your business to people, the way you reply to customers, your blog posts, the image of you that people have in their mind when they walk away… that’s all part of your brand.
Your brand is everything. It’s kind of a big deal. You want to do branding well.
Here’s where it gets difficult—because branding needs to be done well in every single aspect of your business, and every single thing that you do, and every single thing that potential customers and clients hear about you… it can be pretty damn overwhelming. Like trying to fit everything at the buffet onto one plate all at the same time. (I’ve tried this. It didn’t end well.)
This is why people so often reduce branding to just ‘visual branding’—your logo, colour scheme, fonts, etc. They think that if their business looks good, it will stand out from all the others.
They’re kidding themselves.
Anyone could have that logo/font/colour scheme. An excellent cafe could have an excellent logo… or a terrible cafe could have an excellent logo. Two health food businesses could have green colour schemes, curly fonts, and leaf motifs… but be totally different to each other.
Don’t get me wrong—professional, attractive, high-quality visual branding is crucial, and a talented graphic designer will breathe life into your visual branding, and make your business look beautiful.
But the fact remains: visual branding is not enough. And if you think it is… you're kidding yourself. You can’t tell what a business is like based on the visual branding alone.
So here’s the riddle.
How do you do branding well in all aspects of your business without it being overwhelming, and without pretending that a graphic designer will take care of it all for you?
Or if you like riddles:
I lay the groundwork for your brand,
Without making you cry;
I clear your mind and take your hand
And teach you how and why.
A thousand tries to sell your wares
Could still, without me, fail;
But let me lead and take your cares,
And watch your business sail!
What am I?
And the answer, as you’ve already figured out… is your brand story.
Your brand story underpins your whole brand. Your brand story is your brand’s character and identity—the elements of your brand that are unique to you and your business.
If you’re willing to go reeeeeally abstract with me: it’s your vibe. Your essence.
Some of those things are intangible, hard to identify, and even harder to articulate.
But they’re the things that make you… you. The things that make your business different to other businesses.
And the sum of all these things is your brand story.
This can be a frustrating concept for some people, particularly if you’re a very concrete and practical thinker. A brand story might seem like a fog that can never be grasped.
But when you take the time, effort, and insight to draw out your brand story, this abstract concept starts to have concrete effects on your business.
Remember that overwhelming feeling of trying to do branding well in every area of your business? Your brand story guides the words and actions of your business. We’ll talk about this more in the next blog post, but in short, your brand story becomes the codebreaker, the key, to how to do business in all of those other aspects. Rather than having to make new decisions each time, all you have to do is stick with your brand story.
Not sure if you should post an article on your Facebook page? Well, does it fit with your brand story?
Trying to decide how to word an email to a prospective client? Well, what sort of tone fits with your brand story?
Should I advertise the best price, or the best quality? How do I respond to a customer’s complaint? Do I want a slick modern website, or a kooky fun website?
Brand story, brand story, brand story.
When you know your brand story like you know your best friend, so many things just fall into place.
One of the things We Write You is particularly skilled at is sitting down with you, getting to know you, your business, what you’re like, where you’ve come from, where you’re going… and helping you to know and communicate your brand story clearly. We take note of all the things that make you you, and help you to use that to shape your business and engage with your customers and clients.
If you want to hire us to put together your brand story, check out our services, or just shoot us some questions. Or if you'd like to play with some ideas to get your brand story going, have fun with this sweet free worksheet we made you.
That’s it for this post. But this has only scratched the surface. The next step is understanding why your business needs a brand story. That’s the next post in the series.
You should definitely read it.
P.S. Want to know more about OUR brand? Check out the times I interviewed Kamina and she interviewed me.
P.P.S. How to know if you're ready to hire a copywriter (with more stuff about figuring out your brand story)
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