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Branding Your Business: How Is Your Company's Narrative?

By Proforma Durkee on November 29, 2016

When it comes to branding your business, you need to remember that your brand is so much bigger than your logo or company colors. Your "brand" is the narrative you create.

So what goes into creating a strong company narrative anyway? Here are five tips. 

1. Focus on what makes you different/special. Here's the thing so many companies overlook: your products or services rarely make you special or different. You have competitors, right? If you're being honest, then you have to admit their services/products are probably not all branding your business.jpgthat different from yours.

So you need to focus on something else--the "thing" that DOES make you stand out.

Perhaps yours is a third-generation family-owned business. Or maybe your founder's story is incredibly inspiring. Perhaps there's an interesting anecdote behind your company name, the spirit of which you can infuse throughout your messaging and website. 

Now, we're cooking! Suddenly, we have the makings for a memorable narrative.

Want real-life examples of what we mean? Here are several:

  • Goop. This company with the unusual (and memorable) name was founded by an Oscar-winning actress turned new-age hippie (Gwyneth Paltrow). Even if you don't like the brand (even if you can't name products Goop actually sells), you have to admit, the company has a strong narrative, one that will definitely resonate with its audience.
  • DeMoulas Market Basket. People from around New England already know this family-owned business very well. But thanks to a powerful company story that went viral several years ago, the whole country now knows the story, too. Background: When DeMoulas family members went to war a couple of years ago, the business itself was threatned until the company's very loyal workforce rallied around the ousted family member, Arthur T. Demoulas. It's a company narrative that continues to instill much loyalty among employees and customers alike to this very day.  
  • Google. Two brilliant college kids named Larry Page and Sergey Brin meet in 1995 and the rest is Internet history, one we all know well. The simplicity of this story is something we see in everything Google does. It's subtle, but it works to great effect. 

2. Before you create your company narrative, get comfortable with TELLING your story. The best thing you can do for your own company's narrative is to learn how to speak it. Seriously, sit down and record your story (use your smartphone) and just talk through it:

  • How did it start?
  • What was the genesis/reason for its creation?
  • How'd it get its name?
  • Who are the founders and what are their stories?
  • What's a day like in the office?
  • What are one to two things most people probably don't know about your company?

(Notice how none of these questions involve products, services, or pricing.)

Answer some fun questions as well:

  • What animal best reflects your company?
  • If your company were a pizza topping, what would it be? Why?
  • What causes does your company care about/support?

You get the idea. Remember, the business was started for a reason. There was a vision, a passion, behind this decision. Keep polishing until that nugget shines like the diamond it is.

3. When writing your company's narrative, avoid jargon and marketing buzz words. Lose words like synergy and robust and innovative and other empty buzz words you'll find on thousands of sites across the interwebs. Your company's narrative is your chance to really connect with people on a personal level.

While we recommend using this personal tone throughout the site and across all marketing channels, we realize not all companies are ready to make this commitment. That said, one area where you MUST be human and authentic is in your About Us section. 

Here are some good examples of strong About pages:

  • Horny Toad Clothing. Note the "good company" theme and how this business effortlessly infuses this message throughout its extensive About section (as well as the whole site in general).
  • Levi Strauss & Co.This iconic American brand builds on its rich heritage through each section of its company narrative. Definitely check out the cool timeline.
  • HubSpot. Yes, strong company narratives work for b2b brands as well, as HubSpot shows us.

4. Share your story within your company. The only way to get customers to embrace and remember your company's narrative is by getting everyone in your company to embrace the narrative first.

Make sure all employees, from reception on up, understand the organization's history, mission, what makes it special. Your company's narrative is one that your organization needs to live day in and day out. In other words, your company story and corporate culture go very much hand-in-hand. (Here's a good read regarding Facebook's corporate culture and how it works with the company's overarching narrative.)

5. Allow the story to infuse all areas of your business. As we mentioned above, we realize not all companies are ready (or even equipped) to allow the company narrative to drive all messaging and marketing. That's OK. Start small. Focus on solidifying your company's narrative by following the steps above. Over time, allow it to infuse other areas of your business. 

For example, once you've developed a solid About Us section on your site, start bringing that awesome About Us message to all of your social media profiles. Revise boilerplate copy used at the bottom of press releases and content offers so that it better reflects this stronger company narrative (as opposed to the typical marketing jargon). On written communications, such as emails, include a link in the signature that leads directly to the "Our Story" section of your site. 

Again, you don't need to do these things all at once. But over time, allow the narrative to take hold. Once you do, you'll likely be surprised (pleasantly so!) at how truly memorable your brand becomes and how it instills loyalty in current customers while regularly attracting new ones.

Do you need guidance developing and writing your company's narrative? We can help. Let's chat

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Topics: Marketing Tips