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Originally published Mar 12, 2018. Updated July 17, 2018.

By Noelle Brooks

When it comes to creating stellar marketing campaigns, an effective brand story is key. Big brands such as Coca-Cola have mastered the art of storytelling, creating compelling campaigns that captivate consumers.  However, innovative marketing strategies are useless if people do not connect with your brand. You need to give people a reason to follow you, to purchase your services, to share your brand with others.  This requires creating an authentic brand story. To accomplish this, ask yourself the following four questions:

Why does this brand exist?

Think back to those early days when your organization was just a few scribbles on a page. For example, let’s say you have an internet security company. Where did this idea originate? Did it come from an innate love of digital information? Was it after some particularly nasty malware killed your favorite laptop and you vowed to seek vengeance?  Even if the answer is simply, “great pay,” determine why that matters. Does the higher income mean more time for your family? More freedom? Find the real reason why you do what you do.

Why does this brand continue to exist?

Once you have discovered the reason your brand exists, establish why it is still around.  What are the ideas and principles that underpin the business? What drives you and your employees to keep fighting the good fight? Any particularly unique strategies included in your business model? In the case of the internet security company, do you offer 24/7 support because of your own frustrations with limited office hours? Do you use eco-friendly products in the office because you have a love for the environment?  Dig deep and discover what makes your brand tick.

What does your brand offer that others do not?

When developing an authentic brand story, understanding what separates you from the competition is essential. This does not just include differences in prices and services, but how your brand differs at its core. Refer to why your brand exists and identify how your principles and values differ from other organizations in your industry. Search for ways to emphasize these differences. If none stand out, think of ways to differentiate. Perhaps that 24/7 support can offer a variety of ways for customers connect, depending on their preference. Maybe partnering with an environmentally conscious nonprofit will show your brand’s commitment to sustainability. Whatever you choose, make sure it reflects your brand’s values. 

What do you hope this brand will ultimately achieve?

Lastly, figure out what you want your brand to achieve. What is the endgame? What is the big pie in the sky goal that you hope to achieve with your business? The answer to this question does not have to be singular or even altruistic for customers to care. Back to our lovely internet security company, let’s say the goal is to become a publicly traded company to maximize your earning potential. Make this type of ambitious dreaming a part of your brand. Create content that encourages your audience to pursue lofty goals. Develop a brand voice that is larger than life, sharing ideas that question boundaries and encourage innovation. This speaks to what your brand is at its core while attracting the customers you need to meet your goal.

Once you have answered these questions, build the narrative. Make it a part of your entire business model. Also, figure out why your audience should care. What is the universal human factor that makes your organization relatable? Be honest and straightforward. Avoid the trap of trying to be “liked.” People do not want brands that are simply nice. They want engaging, compelling and interesting. They want a brand story worth rooting for, a reason to click buy. It is better to be loved fiercely by a small, active audience than viewed favorably by a large, disengaged one. Discover your authentic brand story and embrace it.

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