Storytelling should be an integral part of any branding efforts. All communications around your brand should relate back to the story – brand values, key differentiators – you want to tell to your customers, employees, investors, and the media.
Why? Because storytelling is impactful and emotionally resonant. People buy, invest in, and work for brands they can trust, relate to and connect with. With open access to digital media today, it’s relatively easy to get your story in front of the right audience. It’s merely a question of crafting the messaging and shaping the content for individual digital platforms – website, news streams, live video, blogs, social media posts and podcasts. But, disinformation can pose a risk to the integrity of your story. So, it’s imperative that you take control of your brand narrative before someone else does!
What Happens When Brands Aren’t Driving their Narratives
When a third party (unhappy customer, brand champion, or interloper) spreads disinformation, it can quickly bring negative exposure and damage the brand. But if you are already widely visible and have a strong brand narrative, this will be more challenging.
Lost Sales, Stumbling Stock Prices, and Decreased Valuations
Disinformation doesn’t just affect your reputation and relationships with customers; it can also impact your bottom line. When customers feel that a brand is doing something against the values they hold dear, they may boycott it which affects sales. This will affect the way investors consider the brand.
Fake Narratives Can Cost You
When a crisis occurs, not only may profits tank, organizations will need to spend significant sums responding to the fake narratives. They will be required to beef up communications (marketing, PR, advertising, HR) and litigation budgets to counteract the damage that has been done. They will need to take back control of the story in the media and in the courtroom.
Don’t Get Dragged Down – Own Your Narrative
Organizations need to take action if they want to take control of their story. Here are some storytelling strategies I use with my clients:
Find Your Story
Taking control of your narrative starts with identifying the core messages you want to share. What are the top 1-3 things you want people to know about your brand and its products? Dig deep to outline what makes your brand stand out, i.e., your customers’ pain points and how you help alleviate them. When crafting your story, make sure you consider how it will be received by your audience. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience to consider their perspective (getting the feedback of real customers can help). Most of all, be genuine. If you want your messaging to resonate with your audience, you need to be open and transparent. Your stakeholders are savvy and can quickly spot insincerity.
Pepper Your Messaging
The purpose of developing a brand narrative is to share it. Your story should guide your marketing strategy and be a part of all your communications. Infuse it in everything you share – website, articles, blog posts, social media posts, presentations, podcast appearances, etc.
Invest in Producing Content
One strategic way to own your brand narrative is to create content about it yourself. Utilize the platforms that are at your disposal, such as:
- Slide Shows (Think of a Carousel on your LinkedIn profile)
- Social Media Posts
- Case Studies
- White Papers
- Employee Generated Content
The more you get your messaging in front of your audience, the more likely it will get their attention. Saturate your digital space with your story.
Pitch to the Right People
Do your research and make sure you are reaching out to the ideal reporters and journalists for your brand. Build relationships with key media sources that you can rely on and go to with breaking news.
Find a Trusted Partner to Share Your News
Don’t just send out a press release for big announcements. Follow the lead of tennis great Serena Williams and pick a media outlet you trust, with which you have developed a relationship. When she was announcing her retirement, she did so on her terms. She controlled her narrative by writing a personal essay for Vogue. For small-mid size companies, an industry trade publication is a good way to go.
Keep track of how your narrative is resonating. If there is an issue, address it immediately before others pounce on it. Listen to your audience and know that it’s ok to pivot if you aren’t making headway. Not all messaging works the first time.
Remember, if you’re not driving your brand narrative and story competition will do it for you. And once you lose control of your narrative it can be hard to take control back.