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3 Pillars to Innovative Brand Storytelling

Walker Sands

Walker Sands

Action is at the center of communications strategy. Whether you’re looking for a customer to buy a product, or a journalist to cover a story, or an investor to take interest in a company, you want someone to take an action that delivers value for all parties involved.

The challenge today is in finding the best way to motivate your audience. Whoever they are, they hear from a lot of voices every day who are telling them what to do, what to buy, or what they should care about.

A great brand story can help you cut through that noise, but it requires that you really understand the audience you’re trying to reach, and that you apply a lot of creativity in how you shape and share that story.

We believe that this boils down to a three-pillar approach for brand storytelling, which we keep in mind any time we build an integrated communications programs for our tech and consumer clients:

  1. Shape an authentic story
  2. Understand your audience
  3. Share the story

We believe this approach help us bring clients’ strongest stories to life and get those stories out there in innovative and interesting ways. Here’s more about each pillar.

Shape the Story

How do you get to the root of an authentic brand story?

People gravitate to authenticity and truth, whatever it is. If your company articulates a story that is truthful and authentic, they’ll gravitate toward you. They’ll be more loyal and more inclined to recommend you to their friends. Companies that don’t have that foundation and authenticity are shifting in the wind.

One client, Notarize, is a great example. Their founder and CEO, Patrick Kinsel, was in Asia for business, and needed a way to get some signed documents notarized. He couldn’t find a way to get the job done abroad, and it risked messing up an important deal. That gave him the idea to create Notarize, a digital platform that allows for legal, online document notarization.

By founding the company based on a personal, true experience, Notarize shaped their story in a way that was relatable and that pointed to a specific user need or challenge. They could identify that their service could make homebuying easier, faster and less stressful for first-time homebuyers, or digital natives, or people who work in industries that require lots of documentation and who want to save time. Now, their challenge is to creatively tell that story so it’s constantly refreshed and renewed.

The right story is a foregone conclusion: buyers shouldn’t have to wonder what your story is. It should reflect the principles of your founders, ideals, and intentions. Most importantly, it clarifies exactly who you want to reach.

Understand Your Audience

Only when you know your audience can you determine the best channel to reach them. This is where creativity is important.

Too often, and especially in the tech PR world where we live, brands are tempted to follow a “tried-and-true” playbook for PR and marketing. But modern tech buyers don’t follow the same old rules.

If you’re trying to reach digitally savvy 25-year-olds with an innovative digital service, does it make sense to start with a print media blitz? Lots of tech buyers and decision makers today are in their early 30s. Are these buyers still hitting the trade show floor to exchange business cards? Probably not.

You can’t have preconceived ideas regarding “the right approach.” Instead, let your audience be your guide. Figure out who they are, and where they get their info. Is it social media? Chat groups? Podcasts? Trade publications? It could be all of those or none of them, but you’ll need to put together a smart, creative platform strategy to reach buyers wherever they might be.

Share the Story

Sharing your story can feel tactical, but only if you treat it like a one-way street. More and more, the digital environment affords brands the ability to listen one-on-one to what buyers are demanding. You have to live in their environment and be agile, aware and flexible.

Keep in mind that buyers today are fickle. They’ll switch brands at the drop of a hat if they don’t believe you’re the right fit for their needs, desires, ideals, or values. That’s why great brands are always listening to their customers and reacting appropriately.

Ultimately if you’ve got an authentic brand and you’re listening to your audience, more often than not, you’ll be in a strong position to motivate your audience to take action.

This article was originally published on The Holmes Report.