I have created a fool-proof method for building your brand story. It does need you to do some homework before you get started. For this, you will need your brand positioning statement, consumer insights and enemies, your brand’s big idea, your brand purpose and your brand values. If you have built up a brand concept, you should be able to take that concept into a brand story.
However, only a fool would start their brand story with a blank piece of paper. You will likely end up with a randomized chance at success.
It starts with doing your homework of your Brand Positioning Statement
Most of the meat of a good concept comes from the work you do with a positioning statement. Make sure you go deep to understand who you are selling to and what you are selling. Brand Positioning Statements give the most useful function of taking everything you know about your brand, everything that could be said about the consumer and making choices to pick one target that you’ll serve and one brand promise you will stand behind. A best in class positioning statement has four key elements:
- Target Market (1)
- Definition of the market you play in (2)
- Brand Promise (emotional or rational benefit) (3)
- The Reason to Believe (RTB) the brand promise (4)
The classic way to write a Brand Positioning Statement is to take the elements above and frame them into the following: For the target market (1) Brand X plays in the market (2) and it gives the main benefit (3). That’s because of the following reasons to believe (4).
The ideal positioning has a tightly defined target based on demographics and psychographics as well as moments in life they may be going through relative to your brand. There should be a brand promise that has a balance of emotional and rational benefits and then supporting reasons to believe (RTBs) that back up the main promise. Don’t just throw out random claims you have but make sure the RTB’s fill in any gaps in the promise.
You need rich consumer insights
While a concept doesn’t directly call out the target, the best way to connect quickly with the target is to lead off with a really impactful insight or problem they might be facing, that lets them know you get them. I always end up with debate over people of what an insight is.
Too many people think data, trends and facts are insights. Facts are merely on the surface—so they miss out on the depth–you need to bring those facts to life by going below the surface and transforming the facts into insights. To demonstrate knowledge of that target, defining consumer insights help to crystallize and bring to life the consumer you are targeting. The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. When insight is done right, it is what first connects us to the brand, because we see ourselves in the story. Insight is not something that consumers didn’t know before. It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell. That would be knowledge not insight.
Insight is something that everyone already knows and comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. That’s why we laugh when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.
Added to the insight, a concept can really come to life when you lead off with the consumer’s enemy. Beloved Brands help consumers counter a problem in their life. Who is the Enemy of your consumer? Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.
Summarize into a Brand Positioning
This is how the positioning tool should lead you to a brand positioning statement that takes into account the target, category, benefit and support points.
For more information on Brand Positioning statements, follow this step by step process in this link: How to Write a Brand Positioning Statement
Build a big idea that summarizes the brand promise
Once you have a brand positioning statement, you need to figure your brand’s big idea. There is value in turning your positioning into a 7 second pitch. What is your “SHOUT FROM THE MOUNTAIN”. It forces you to want to scream just ONE THING about your brand—keep it simple. You can’t scream a long sentence.
Turn your brand positioning and big idea into a brand concept
Too many brand leaders write elaborate concepts that include everything. In reality, you won’t be able to execute everything. There’s no value in getting a brand concept to pass a test and then be unable to execute: narrow it down to one simple benefit and 2 RTBs.(reasons to believe) Looking at the example below, taking the information from the brand concept from above using Gray’s Cookies, here’s how to map it into a concept.
- The main headline should capture the Big Idea of your brand. The headline will be the first thing consumers see, influencing how they will engage with the concept.
- Start every concept with a consumer insight (connection point) or consumer enemy (pain point). If you can captivate the consumer to make them stop and think, “That’s exactly how I feel,” they will be more engaged with your concept. The enemy or insight must set up the brand promise.
- The promise statement must bring the main benefit to life, with a balance of emotional and functional benefits. For Gray’s, I combined the ‘great taste’ functional benefit and ‘stay in control’ emotional benefit.
- Support points should close off any gaps consumers may have after reading the main benefit. An emotional benefit may require functional support to cover off any doubt created in the consumers mind.
- Complete the concept with a motivating call-to-action to prompt the consumer’s purchase intent which is a major part of concept testing.
- Adding a supporting visual that fits is optional
Make sure your brand concept is tight
Anything more than this, you are just cheating yourself. Yes, you might have a better score, but you might not be able to execute it in the market. If you haven’t narrowed down your claims or RTB’s, maybe you need a claim sorting research before you get into the brand concept testing.
Be realistic about the brand concept you build. Too many marketers try to jam everything into the brand concept, trying to “pass the test” but then after they get a winning score, they realize that they can’t execute the brand concept that just won. You should think of your brand concept as you would a 30 second TV ad or a digital billboard.
Brand Concept Examples
You can build a brand concept for any type of brand. Here’s an example of a B2B brand concept.
The same brand concept model also works for healthcare brands
It can work for build a brand concept for a tech brand:
And finally, it can work for building a brand concept for a service oriented business as well.
From your strategic plan, take your brand purpose
Every brand should have a 5 year plan, and every 5 year plan should have a good discussion of your brand purpose and the values, beliefs and motivations that support that purpose.
While the diagram above looks rather crazy at first, this is a great tool for finding your brand’s purpose. This is a complex Venn diagram with four major factors, that matches up what the consumer wants, the core values that can steer your team that works behind the scenes of the brand, loving what you do and the ability to build a successful brand and business. Find your brand purpose, on the intersection of your meeting consumer needs, fulfilling you personal passion, standing behind your values, success and consumers. The reason I love this crazy Venn diagram is that the intersection of these four circles helps to crystallize the four things you need to do to use build a create a beloved brand.
1. Focus on building a tight relationship with consumers
The best brands know their consumers as well as you know your brand. Use consumer insights, enemies and needs. Build your brand plan and positioning around consumer benefits—what they get and how it makes them feel. Ask yourself, how do you describe your ideal relationship with your consumers?
2. Build around a unique, own-able and motivating big idea
The big idea is what consumers connect with first. The big idea then builds a bond as each touch-point to help deliver that big idea. Use the big idea to organize everything those working on the brand should do to deliver the benefit for your consumers—through the brand promise, story, innovation, the purchase moment and consumer experience. Behind the big idea are the elements of the brand positioning. What is the Big Idea of the brand that should inspire everyone who works behind the scenes of the brand?
3. Inspire a values driven culture to deliver happy experiences
The culture of the organization must steer the people who will deliver the experience. Your people become the face of the brand, as they deliver happy experiences that satisfy your consumers. Your people will be a major source of creating loyalty with consumers. What are the core beliefs of the brand that shape the organization as to the standards, behaviors, expectations?
4. Use exceptional execution to become your consumer’s favorite brand
What separates good from great is the passion your people put into the work that reaches consumers. Whether it is your advertising, innovation, sales or the consumer experience you create, I believe that “I love it” is the highest bar for great work. You should create a culture where people never settle for OK when greatness is attainable. What is it that makes someone who works on your brand push themselves beyond the job, to deliver exceptional execution?
Here’s an example of how the model comes together to find your brand’s purpose.
Once you have the purpose outlined, we urge brands to add your brand’s values and beliefs that support that purpose. What are the core beliefs of the brand that shape the organization as to the standards, behaviors, expectations? The values are the backbone of the organization. The brand can never go against a value. And the must be able to stand up to and consistently deliver each value. Take it a step further with motivations and inspirations. What are the needs and desires that inspires those who work behind the brand. the motivations are the fuel to the energy of the organization. The brand must stimulate the brand’s people to take actions beyond the norms of work, where it becomes passion.
Here’s the values for Gray’s Cookies.
Now, you have enough ammunition to build a brand story.
You can take your brand’s big idea, positioning statement, brand purpose and values to tell your brand story.
- Start with the headline by turning your brand’s big idea into a promise statement that summarizes what you want to stand for
- Match up your brand purpose to the consumer insights to show why it matters.
- Use your brand’s core belief as a means to connect, and layer in what you do to support that belief
- Explain what makes your brand different, and use claims that support your difference
- Tell your consumers how you want to connect with your them, and the promise you will make to them.
- Use the Big Idea to summarize your brand story
Here’s how it all comes together
Taken all the homework into account, here are a few examples of how the brand story comes together. This is an example you can use for a consumer driven brand:
Keep in mind, this is strategic writing and an ideal strategic structure. To really enhance your story at the next level, hire a copy writer that can really bring it to life.
Here’s an example of a brand story for a B2B business:
And here is an example of a brand story for a healthcare brand
Once you have the comfort of your brand story, you can take these elements into other communication vehicles. One great tool for driving the culture is a brand credo document. Here’s an example of how that comes together.
To learn more about Positioning Statement, here’s our workshop we use to help brands define themselves. :
Beloved Brands: Who are we?
At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.
The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.
We help brands find growth
We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.
We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.
To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching
We make Brand Leaders smarter
We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.
To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training
If you need our help, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 416 885 3911