Every company could sum up their brand story by saying, “We saw a market opportunity to perform our service better than the competition.” Much of the time, it would be a true story. Customers, though, demand a little embellishment with a brand story when comparing options.
A brand story has become a window into what a company represents. It’s an abstract retelling of how they operated and explains where they’re looking to go. We want tales of heroism, not tales of a technician wanting to make more money by starting an IT company.
You don’t need to lie; you just need to retell the story hitting the points that matter to how you want to represent yourself. A résumé isn’t going to include if you wet the bed until you were seven or if your grades dipped during a rough semester in college. Likewise, your brand story serves as the cover letter to the résumé of why a client should work with you.
What does your company do and what do you stand for? How do you define what you do, why you do it and how you do it? Your story should gloss over the mundane and focus on the (true) differentiating aspects of your business.
Defining What You Do
A brand story should explain what a company does. What do you do at your core, and how do you convey that to the widest audience? Keep it simple. Any company could write a 200-page book about their story, but that doesn’t mean anyone wants to read it.
You want to have a small company vision statement or mission statement. This is the ideal of what you do, and the idea needs to be transmuted into an ideal for your audience. For example, my company’s mission statement is this: “At The 20, we look to grow your MSP like we learned to grow ours.” It’s a simple idea, but it packs a punch. In 15 words, we’ve shared with our audience the specifics of what we do and our reasons for doing them.
Why You Do It
When someone relates to your brand story, it’s usually because they’ve seen the value in it. Either you’ve succeeded especially well at what you do, or you do something that no one else does. They want to know why you started on that journey.
Not every story is going to be a romantic one about following one’s passion. All of us have done things we don’t want to do in order to make it to the next opportunity. That doesn’t mean you didn’t find a purpose on the way.
Your brand story should answer these questions: What does your brand do and why did it grow the way it did? If one of these is more romantic than the other, feel free to take some artistic license with the material. When customers shop, do they want the one that does it because “it makes a lot of money,” or the one that does it because they love it? It doesn’t matter that both companies, if honest, are in it for money. When a company representative asks why you want to work for them in an interview, saying “for a paycheck” will probably get you shown the door, but other answers will take you to the next step. As with an interview, you need to make sure your brand story fits your abilities.
How You Did It
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is overused as a quote because it’s so accurate. You can have the best intentions, but the implementation makes the difference for whether it works or not. When telling your brand story, reflect your ideals, not necessarily the mistakes you made to learn them. The best house built on a bad foundation is a bad house. Your story needs to show how you’ve moved past failure and capitalized on success. Even if you did everything wrong before, how did it make you end up on the right path moving forward?
Explain this part of the story with language your customer can understand. Anyone can say they can perform a task, but it is essential to not baffle potential customers with technical jargon or gibberish. For customers, understanding the method or process you use is as important as the reason you do it in the first place.
Building A Narrative
Build your brand story by sharing what you do, explaining why you do it and describing how you do it. You don’t need to write it out in this order, but this is the order to plan how you will tell your story. If someone is searching for a service, they want to find one that does what they need above anything else.
The last factor ties everything together: How does the team do what they do while adhering to the reason why they do it? Things may change, and the narrative should change with it. Failures either break you, or serve as a catalyst to success. What potential customers want to know is: Now that you’ve learned the hard lessons, where is your brand going?