It’s one of the things I say, A LOT… and it’s proven. If you get your story straight you’ll attract the right kind of clients. Unfortunately, it can be hard to get your story straight when you are busy writing it.
Have you heard the term “ghostwriter”? Ghostwriters tell stories on someone else’s behalf that seem to come from the pen of that person. We create brands in a similar way. We have helped countless people communicate with their audience with a brand story that they found hard to articulate. The comparison between ghostwriting and brand building stops there because there’s nothing scary or ghost-like about a good brand! Authentic storytelling is actually sharing the heart, the reality and scope of your business. It includes the personality of your company which is an extension of the people who work for it and who benefit from its existence.
A brand starts with a blank canvas, it’s our job to show each business how to paint.
So, if you are at a crossroads and you want to review your brand, read on…
It can be intimidating when you decide to take a fresh look at your business and how it comes across. It’s a bit like staring at a blank canvas. What do you want your business to look like?
You might experience impostor syndrome when you step back and look at your business and all you can see are its faults. Don’t be discouraged! It’s a journey and things ALWAYS take longer than anticipated. You might think that you are behind schedule but regularly reviewing your business is all part of a necessary process of growth.
In the time I have been in the creative industry (25 years) change has been a part of life and businesses, I have had to adjust. When I started out the internet was not a marketing tool and social media meant passing the Sunday paper around. In the next 10 years email could be gone (one of the oldest online technologies – HTML email anyone?!), even websites could become a thing of the past.
Your business WILL change and so WILL the sector you find yourself in.
Reinvention is part of the business of life – your brand WILL evolve and so will your BRANDING.
Your brand story will continue to develop, it’s not a one-stop approach, it’s an unfolding story.
So be prepared to invest in its journey, regularly, because if you don’t you’ll end up with your branding saying one thing and your brand quite the other. (Brand is what others say about you, branding is the tangible assets that help frame this narrative).
Values play a massive part in establishing culture, don’t undervalue them.
When you review your brand, review your values. For a brand to be spoken about in the right light the company needs to believe in what they are doing. If you need to (re)establish your values then get your team in a room and ask what is important to them. The right values will help you to recruit well; to know if a client is right for you or not and to ensure you are building the company you dreamed of, rather than one that gets dominated by mission creep or loss of focus.
The graphics, typeface, logotype, images are all the frame in which the brand sits.
A brand is more than a logo or great style and imagery, it’s about the whole. Make sure that your people represent your brand well. If you recruit wrongly, without brand in mind, your new recruit might actually undo all the investment it took to build your beautiful brand as their behaviour doesn’t fit with it. Your people should represent your mission and vision, all the branding does is enhance and remind people of it.
Start at the beginning, add characters and by the end, you’ll have a vision worth sharing.
When you review your brand reflect on the journey you have already been on. Don’t forget it in a quest to reinvent yourself. People love stories and your origin story allows you to tell people how you started. It needs to be inspirational rather than sales focussed. Companies whose brand is focussed on the sale rather than the connection fail to scale. The characters in your story are your clients, staff, partners and suppliers. Get them to tell their story about working with you, it will undergird and strengthen your brand narrative. Interview the people that you trust, have a camera at a three-quarter angle and everything will come across more naturally (see what we’ve done for the Executive Foundation).
Lastly, remember that blank piece of canvas? Well, when it’s full, show it off! Once you’ve got your brand in place and you know where you want to head, own it and share it. When you make the vision plain, the right people buy-in.
*Make sure that you have made it easy for people to buy-in by including sustainability (take a look at the UN’s 17 sustainable goals). We’re no longer talking profit only, but profit, purpose and planet.
Great stories flex, move, twist and turn, just like real life. Historically, brand was about creating the perfect dream and then trying to get everyone to believe it. REAL brands understand the power of authenticity, of being more open and transparent. Rather than a fixed statement, an ongoing conversation.
Book a discovery session.
If you want to start one, then hit me up firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get to the heart of helping you discover more of who you really are. We can help you turn your next chapter into a best seller!