In a time when businesses use everything from unique industry lingo to CEO selfies on Instagram to try to stand out, defining and building your brand is more important than it’s ever been.
Chances are that at some point in the early stages of building your business, you did some sort of branding exercise, but have you looked at it since then? You can’t just define your brand once and then check it off your list–Every decision you make needs to come back to your brand, and every offer you create needs to have a place in your brand story.
Your brand is your central message, and like any good foundation, it needs to be strong and meaningful and well as clear, easy to understand and hard to misunderstand, if it’s going to support your business now and into the furture.
Has it been a while since you thought about your branding and your story (or–yikes!–maybe you’ve never really given much thought to either of them)? Or maybe you feel like your central message needs some bolstering? Here’s a quick exercise to get you on the right track for evaluating your brand.
(If you’re reading this thinking, “Nah, my brand is rock solid!” then I challenge you to try this exercise as well, and see if your brand can hold up to these standards!)
The brand promise emerges from the following:
  • A purpose (why you deliver including to whom)
  • A promise (what you deliver; the specific outcome)
  • Your company values (the big why behind your business; what you stand for) 
Marketing is how you express the brand to your audience, and great marketing begins with great story. Story enlivens facts with emotion and makes it real.  It gives our brains the ability to find “like information” upon which to explore the knowledge; it makes knowledge/facts personally relevant.  Story is essential for people to pay attention, find relevance within themselves and for your message to be received.
Story has 5 components:
  1. Theme – the greater problem you solve
  2. Character – your ideal client; where they are now and where they want to be
  3. Conflict – what is “between” your client and where they want to be; the problem you solve
  4. Setting – the environment in which or for you solve the problem
  5. Plot – flexible but frequently follows the Hero’s Journey; you can adjust the plot for different audiences or a different set of circumstances
The brand is more than the marketing.  It’s is the entire client/customer experience and includes non-customer/client facing details such as the company culture.  You weave the thread all the way through, which of course brings the brand full circle.
The Take-Away: Every company–big or small–needs a strong brand and story to share it. These foundational components are non-negotiable, but too often are ticked off a checklist when creating a new business, and never thought of again. Use these new tools to help define your brand, story, and give you a starting place for your next big thing.