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Classics: 4 Reasons to Start with a Brand Story: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | Jan 16, 2024

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking why you should start with a Brand Story. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

  • Episode Summary & Player
  • Show Notes
  • Marketing Smarts Summary
  • Transcript

Marketing Smarts: Classics: 4 Reasons to Start with a Brand Story

A Brand Story is a powerful tool when created and utilized properly. It’s a key differentiator to any business’s success. Unfortunately, too many companies phone it in when it comes to their brand story, or even worse…decide not to create one entirely. At some point, it catches up to them in a bad way. In this episode, we discuss how to ensure you have the right Brand Story to set your foundation and use it as a lens for every decision your brand makes – leading to the ultimate brand and business success. Our example of a brand who leverages their Brand Story to the fullest is Moxy Hotels by Marriott. This episode covers everything from hotels to branding tips. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • Why should you start with a Brand Story?
  • What is wrong with your Brand Story if you’re not making much impact?
  • How do you use your Brand Story? Where does it show up?
  • What do you mean by an emotional story? Are you supposed to make people cry?
  • Is there a formula for creating a Brand Story?
  • Why should you tell your story?
  • How does it make every day easier?
  • What would Moxy’s Brand Story be?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you miss anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it.

April Martini 0:29
Welcome to Marketing Smarts. I am Anne Candido and I am April Martini, and today is another Marketing Smarts Classics: 4 reasons to start with a brand story. The foundation of a brand should always start here and serve as the lens by which every decision for a business is made. When companies skip this step, they fall flat and can come across as inauthentic making it hard for their customers, clients or consumers to connect on an emotional level with their brand. When done right, a brand story becomes a competitive edge that allows a business to stand out versus all others in the marketplace and create an experience their customers, clients or consumers connect with on a very deep level, ultimately turning them into ambassadors for life. Enjoy this episode for the first time or as a good reminder, let’s jump into it. So whatever the case may be, the short statement is this. If you do not start with a brand story, or you have not in your company to date, you do not have a brand we believe 1,000% in this. So if you haven’t heard it, my voice, another one near and dear to our hearts. And also just where we see too many people shortchange ignore or discredit the importance of the brand story when in fact, it should be the foundation of absolutely everything you do for your brand, every decision you make, and the filter for marketing, business and decisions throughout.

Anne Candido 1:49
Yes, and before we jump into all the specifics about brand story, we want to make sure as we always do here is to define brand story. So we’re all on the same page. So a brand story is a short statement, maybe a few sentences that really establishes your brand’s fundamental positioning in the marketplace. Or in other words, it really establishes your purpose or the reason for actually being and this why you exist, it goes beyond just what you do, which it will state what you do as well. But it also reflects the emotional impact that you plan to have. And when you put those things together, you capture both the hearts and the minds of your consumers. And this is why it’s so important that you are establishing this before you do anything else because it’s going to serve as the basis and the foundation for everything else.

April Martini 2:46
Yes, exactly. So now that we’ve convinced you of how important it is, we will further define why, with four reasons, you need to start with a brand story. And the first one which I will take, you get to tell your story. So the reference that I like to make here, because we so often talk about brands as people and that that’s the filter through which you should think of it is imagine if someone came up to you at a cocktail party and asks you to tell your story, only to have someone else jump in and tell it for you. That would be super awkward, right? Because no one knows you better than you know yourself. And so when introducing your brand to someone else, you have to tell your story, the way that it is the history, the reason why you do what you do what gets you up in the morning, why people should want to be a part of your life and what you envision for your future. That’s just so exciting. People can’t help but want to join you. The same thing is true for a brand. And I know we get the statement all the time. Well, I’m not really sure how to do that. I don’t know how to write my brand story, and you are in luck. Because if you listen all the way through, we will help you with that. But you really do have to do it. Otherwise, you’re gonna reach some point where competition takes over. You don’t mean anything to anyone. So they don’t know why to pick you. There’s a million reasons we could list here. And we’ve talked to you in previous episodes, and we’re gonna reiterate it again here. The definition of brand. It’s who am I? How am I different? And why would you want me and if you haven’t defined your brand, let alone your story, you want to go to Episode 13. For reasons you must focus on your brand to build a successful business to really tackle that project. So once you have that brand, that’s where this brand story comes in. So it’s literally the very second thing after you say okay, I’m going to be something here’s how I’m going to be different and this is why you should want me you jump right into the brand story which is through that human lens which and did such a good job of setting up in the beginning that you can really connect to and we like to think that it’s exciting. I mean the same way as when you’re meeting new people or Have they become lifelong friends or even short term acquaintances? Everyone likes to talk about themselves and a brand is no different than that.

Anne Candido 5:08
Yeah, and I think just to build on what you said, it brings life to your brand, exactly right in a life to your business, it, it just gives people another reason to engage with you, besides some of the commoditize ways that it’s, you might fall into like price and those sorts of things. So when you get to tell your story, you get to bring your business to life. Yeah,

April Martini 5:34
and you’re controlling the narrative at that point. So why would you not want to do this? Anyway? Okay. With that, we’ll move on to the second one, you make your every day easier, and I will let and take this one.

Anne Candido 5:46
Right. I mean, we hear all the time, okay, I don’t have time for this, or it isn’t worth it, or I’ve already been in business a while or it doesn’t work. And, you know, these are all excuses. Why somebody might not want to do the actual hard work of thinking about their their brand. But what we say then is, on the flip side, it’s going to drive more efficiency for your business, because what we also see is people agonizing over decisions every day, where do I mark it? How do I mark it? What should I be putting on social? What should I be putting on this billboard? What should I should I have influencers? Or should I not have influencers, all of these questions should be filtered through your brand, which is foundationally, set up by your brand story, right? So this is why it’s so important that you establish that because it’s going to make your decision making easier because you’re going to have a playbook. The Playbook then drives everything that you do and all the decisions you make, so that you can have consistency and messaging across all of your channels. Your visualization is consistent across all your channels, your execution, your communication with your customer is well thought out, well strategically planned, and then is setup in order to engage them in the right time in the right way. Or otherwise, you create kind of erratic way of your brand showing up. And when you create a random way for your brand showing up, then people have a hard time trusting you, they have a hard time believing that what you’re saying is going to be true that you look like you’re a little bit all over the place. So this is why it’s so so critically important.

April Martini 7:29
Yeah, and I think that’s exactly right. And I think it just there really is a roadmap, you guys that starts to appear when you have that brand story. And I think sometimes people are like, afraid, okay, we hear you, but we don’t believe you. And then fast forward to when people start with that brand story foundation. They’re like, Oh, do you know to Anne’s point, now my day to day decisions, and I was just be laboring over and therefore spending even more time. Now I kind of have guardrails, if you will to, you know, create the roadmap analogy, keep it going of of what are kind of my limitations, but also the areas in which I can explore. And so when people come with ideas, it isn’t so daunting anymore. And I don’t feel that paralysis of like, is it right? Or is it not because I know inherently based on the brand story, whether it’s right or not. So

Anne Candido 8:22
yeah, and to that point, it drives a lot of subjectiveness out of the feedback you might get of what your competition might be doing. If you just kind of get like overloaded if you don’t have a guide or criteria that is set up by your brand for which to make these decisions. And ultimately, the way that you make these decisions is going to impact your business in the long run. So you want to make good decisions and your can’t make good decisions unless you have a brand framework from which to work from. Yeah,

April Martini 8:54
and I think that’s, that’s a good point. Because if you’re overwhelmed, which leads us into the next reason why you’re not able to do a good job. And so number three, we say if you have a strong brand story, you attract people to you. So back to that cocktail reference, who are you drawn to competent, charismatic people that you know, have something to tell us something to share. You know, you can be introverted or extroverted, you know, those people that are in a room that you’re just like, Ah, I really want to talk to that person. We’ve all had those situations happen before. And so you want your brand to be one of those people that almost has this magnetic force, because they’re so firm in who they are, that you want to be a part of that who they are. And so that’s really where your story should start. That’s what you should be trying for. And it also again, to the point of making your everyday easier. It helps the right consumers find you and the wrong ones to opt out. So that helps you get even clearer because as you start to surround yourself elf with the right people, it builds your community of followers. And you can really ensure that your confidence is where it should be because you are attracting these people. And we’ve also talked about in previous episodes, the idea of, of a community of advocates, and what that really does for you, and the fact that when other people are willing to speak on your behalf, you don’t have to rely on your brand voice to be out there pushing your message, which inherently can sometimes make people feel skeptical, right. But if you have people out there, from a word of mouth perspective, saying great things about your brand, helping you build your community recommending your products and services, especially with the proliferation of social media, and online reviews, and things that are out there for the world to see and read, all those people that you’ve attracted to you because you have that brand story are now taking some of the heavy lifting off your plate and further building your community for you.

Anne Candido 10:58
Right, and when I was saying before about how it gives your brand life, part of that life is a personality. And that’s and so I think your cocktail reference is cocktail party reference is cocktail references to but anyway, um, because I think it’s like all about drawing people to you who are again, like you said, like minded, who are going to create an advocacy group in order to support your your brand. And you can only do that if you have a tangible personality that can attract people to you. So your brand story is what allows people to know why they should like you. Yeah, why they should choose you who you are, why you’re different all the brand elements, but specifically, who you are, and why they want to be friends with you. Like why do they why do they want to choose you so well? And also

April Martini 11:50
why you want to be friends with them? I mean, think about the cocktail party, you know, you go and you’re like, oh, man, none of these people are my speed. You know, that’s not a very fun cocktail party. Whereas when you can enter the room, and because you’ve done all the hard work from your brand, it’s like, Oh, I like all these people, then you have a great time. Or

Anne Candido 12:07
or not. You don’t might not like some of the people. Well, that’s fair. Yeah.

April Martini 12:12
Okay, for the most part, you should like them. All right. All right. Okay, so number four, you create long term connections with consumers. Anne

Anne Candido 12:21
yeah, so this one, it kind of goes back to what we were talking about before about building longevity and loyalty within your consumer base. And it’s, you guys are awesome, they’re probably going really a brand story does all this. Yes, your brand story does all this. And the reason why is because 90% of decisions are emotional. So when you’re able to make an emotional connection, and I call it brand love connection, you’re able to create a relationship, which is why we’re talking about the necessity for your brand have life and a personality, that is more than just transactional. It’s relational, which means you’ll have better instincts when it comes to your consumer and how to manage your business, or your brand within the changing and ever evolving environment, which is your consumer specifically, as well as the environment for which they live in. So when you can have that relational engagement with them, you can get the honest feedback from them, you can understand, hey, if I tried this, and they don’t like it, they’re probably going to forgive me a little bit, I’m gonna let me try some stuff, they’re gonna let me be a little bit brave here. But they’re also going to give you the honest feedback when it’s not working. So I don’t over invest in doing something that’s not going to work well for my business. If you don’t have those relationships, because people haven’t developed that relational connection with you, and they just have a transactional connection with you, they’re going to opt out and they’re not going to come back. So it creates that connectivity that is so important in order to grow to scale, as well as continue your business for a long period of time. Because of the way that you guys are going to engage. It’s going to be a two way engagement versus a one way engagement. Yeah,

April Martini 14:06
and I think there’s also just a little bit more patience and acceptance when you have those audiences because, well, it allows you to take more chances and not worry so much, which can lead to great things. But if you happen to make a mistake, or one message doesn’t hit home, or one thing you choose to do feels a little bit off brand. Yes, to Anne’s point, you can get that feedback pretty readily from the community, but they’re also willing to forgive you because as I’ve been saying all along. This is a very human situation when we’re talking about brand and brand story and brands aren’t perfect, people aren’t perfect, but you have to have the right relationships and that tenure, that long term connection to your community in order to in good faith receive that positive equity. Yeah, I agree. I agree. Okay, so on to our next section here in the trenches where as you all know by Now we give real world examples specific to industries and situations but with broad application so that any of you listening can digest and put into action, the types of things we’re talking about here. And I will kick it off with the first one, which is, we talk about what we offer, but it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact with people what is wrong with our brand story. So I will highlight one of the common misconceptions that we run into when people tell us they have a brand story, we ask what it is, we see what it is, and we realize it’s actually more of a list or a litany of features and benefits are not actually a brand story, because they’re listing off the things that they do or that they provide, but there’s no holistic view, again, with that person reference of who they are. And so no ability to connect on a deeper level, and make the people care about what they’re talking about. So if I go back to the person reference again, you know, I might say I walked 20 miles a week, I have two kids, I work as an accountant, I eat a lot of chicken, do you get a holistic view of me as a person? No, you don’t, you have a few features and benefits that tell you things about me, but not necessarily why you should like me Be My Friend, what the experiences of being around me, all of those things are missing. And then on the other side, if you don’t have the emotional story, then you’re relying on the least common denominator or a commoditized situation in the category where you’re competing on things like price, ease of use speed, not things for people to get really excited about nor reasons to pick you over anyone else.

Anne Candido 16:42
So if you’re in that situation where you feel like well, I thought we had a brand story and but people aren’t connecting to it likely, we will say that it’s not a brand story. And that you need to take a look at whether you have that emotional ability to engage based on what you’re saying. Yes. And so examples, some examples to really bring this to life, we see a lot is people’s attempt to try to take their their products and make them more emotional is things like, we believe we deliver top quality service. Yep, right. Or we are a company that’s been around for like 100 years, or you know, we’re a family owned business, like all of these elements are true. I mean, I’m sure they’re true. But if you can put like your name, like cover up your name, and you could put your competition’s name or anybody else that may be in your industry, you’re not digging deep enough to really identify what is really unique, what is really like, intrinsically you that are going to make people choose you and choose you continually it versus somebody else that might be trying to vie for your business. And that is if you are in a b2b or b2c, it doesn’t matter. Because even in a b2b, there’s your service is the product. And yes, you’re going to deliver your service well, but what are you going to do? What kind of impact are you going to deliver as a result of delivering your service, those are like the ease of mind, you’re not going to have to repeat your work, you’re not going to have to expect to spend multiple dollars with revisions. And so there’s definitely something that you’re gonna deliver, that’s unique to you, that’s in the industry that other people are not going to be able to do that’s going to deliver an emotional impact. And that’s what you really need to drive here. Don’t just cop out and, you know, say like, we have, you know, 15 years of of this experience, there’s others that have 15 years of experience, unless it’s a very niche experience. That is very unique to your industry. But it is a general statement. It just doesn’t. It just doesn’t resonate. It does not going to drive that connection. Yeah.

April Martini 18:52
I mean, if you think about the people you’re friends with, right? If you described your friend as someone that provides me a good service that’s been in their job for 15 years, that doesn’t describe any reason to have an emotional connection with them. Right.

Anne Candido 19:04
So agreed. All right. So

April Martini 19:07
on to number two, another common question we receive. What do you mean by an emotional story? Am I supposed to make people cry? All you and this

Anne Candido 19:18
is one way, this is one of my favorites. And you know, I’ll pull out April’s answer this one, it depends. It really goes back to what I was just mentioning before about what impact do you plan on delivering as a result of your engagement with your consumer like what are you going to change in life that’s going to make them feel like you are the one that they need to have in order to make their life better? I mentioned that 90% of decisions are emotionally lead. This also then comes down to reevaluating then what do you sell because a lot of people will still try to sell their product versus selling that emotional impact. Now If that emotional impact is baked, supposed to make somebody cried, and yes, then that’s what you want to do. But there’s other feelings that people will associate with some of your products, we’ve talked about the feelings of relief, we’ve talked about feelings of joy we’ve talked about. So there’s, there’s, there’s tons of feelings that could be associated with your product or your service, that becomes part of your brand story. So go back to your five year old self, and really investigate all of those feelings, because that’s really at the core of what is going to generate that emotional connection and don’t like undermine it and don’t like undervalue it, because it is super powerful. Yeah,

April Martini 20:49
and I would say to, you know, there’s different levels of emotions, too. So just like, there’s different types of emotions, I mean, let you know, be real with your brand. You know, if you’re a cold and sinus brand, you know, you provide relief in the moment, but you’re not saving someone’s life, right. So dial up, or dial down those emotions in your communication so that it is realistic with people the reactions that they should have. And that makes you more believable. I mean, I think we’ve just seen this proliferation of these highly, highly emotional, you know, ads that have come out or campaigns or, or brands, you know, trying to be so authentic through the use of really drastic, in some cases, emotions, where it’s like, Guys, it’s potato chips, it’s soda, it’s a car, you know, and so I think there needs to be a recalibration in general. And I think as a brand as a brand, you should think about where do you fall on the emotional scale, not just within your space, but within the situations where people are in their lives, and then react accordingly. Based on that, because it’s partially choosing the right emotion, and then it’s partially delivering at the right level, I think, if

Anne Candido 22:03
you’re looking for some place to start, and April, you correct me if you think I’m wrong here, it’s like, go back to your tone of voice. Absolutely right. Because that is inherently how you want to represent your brand. And so therefore, those are, might be the emotions that you want people to appreciate about what you’re putting out there for them. So that could be a good way to start. And if you don’t know what tone of voice is, maybe April, you want to give a definition,

April Martini 22:32
I was gonna say, let’s back up here for a minute because coming out of your out of your brand story work, and you know, we have an episode in the queue for this, but it’s all about talking about your brand character. And so your while your brand’s story should give the emotional story on why you exist, your brand characters, how that manifests itself self. So we were just talking about how there’s lots of different emotions, lots of ways to dial them up and down your brand character are really your personality traits, and the way that people would describe you if you were a human being. And so you could be funny, you could be charismatic, you could be crass, you could be aggressive, you could be introverted, and quiet. I mean, there’s lots of different things you can define as your character. And that’s the lens through which then you develop that tone of voice that and just mentioned. And so there are, you know, there is a lot of diligence to this, of that translation, from story to character to then tone of voice characteristics, and then messaging principles. And those, that tone of voice and the messaging are the things you should constantly be going back to when you’re trying to put any message out there verbal, visual, and by any channel, so that people start to get that holistic sense of you. And they’re almost anticipating what they can expect, when you speak to them through any of the communications. And so, like I said, we’ll have a whole nother episode on that if you need help with that you can reach out to us at any point. But absolutely, I mean, that story you tell needs to be told through that lens of personality and tone of voice, otherwise, it’s not going to quite connect the way that it should look. Alright, number three, we are a leader in our space. But we haven’t really spent much time on our brand in a while. Do we really need to do it now? All right, so this question concerns me because it leads me to think that there hasn’t been a focus on brand or brand story, which is a very big problem, because you should have a pulse on your brand and the impact of what it’s doing at all times. We’ve already talked to you about how every single decision that’s made. You know, we provide the guide rails and the roadmap with the brand story. If you’re not focusing from that point of view, and you’re asking if you have to do anything with your brand story, that likely means you haven’t looked at it in a long time. You haven’t been using it as a filter for your brand, or you quite frankly may not even have one and we can give you a litany of examples which I will do have brands that have been caught up in this and they were the category leader and they just kind of turned in their head as things were starting to change in the marketplace and didn’t do anything, and lo and behold, the day came when their brand was no longer relevant. So the first one that I will list here is Kodak. And this is one that I feel like everybody knows, you know, it’s one of those age old don’t do a Kodak did right? Think that you’re always going to just make a better, you know, camera and totally ignore the digital age. And suddenly the pictures you can produce and those images that come out and that development are nowhere near as strong, let alone now we’re into like filters and editable images and all the things that people can do at their fingertips. And so had they not kind of said, Okay, we’re doing good, where we are, we’re the leader, we’re always going to be the leader, they should have been looking at the brand and the space, they were in seeing what was coming and focusing on continuing to lead. Because they had a good pulse on their brand, the marketplace and what was happening. Similarly, and more recent example here. I’ll talk about taxi cabs, and then the birth of Uber and Lyft, et cetera. And if you think about what has changed, and why those apps have become so compelling, it’s because you know how many times if you call it a taxi, you not been able to get through, or you walk outside, and there’s not a taxi there, and you don’t want to stand in the rain for 10 minutes. Or, you know, you’re you really want to pay with your credit card. And the taxis don’t take credit cards, I mean, there’s all these different situations, right. And so, Uber and Lyft, have done it right. And unfortunately, you know, you see less and less of the taxi industry because a new trend came into place, with brands that had very clearly defined what they were going to do in the market that was unique and new, and then how their brands were going to deliver against that and continue to do so to stay on top of being leaders in the space. So Uber really specifically, right, Uber Eats, they deliver food. Now, it’s not just about having you as a passenger in their car. Now they’ll deliver food to your door. And so those manifestations are the reason to really stay on top of your brand and your brand story because again, the roadmap will be clear to you on things that make sense and don’t and where you should innovate and pivot in the market.

Anne Candido 27:03
Yeah, they Blockbuster and Netflix is the other big example of that, right. And I think what this all exemplifies really, really well is probably two flaws. And in the brand story, either one, the brand story was developed too narrowly. Fair, right. And so it did not provide the flexibility to adapt as the whole environment was was changing. And because it was narrow, it was probably focused on what they did not the impact that they were trying to deliver. Absolutely right. Because if it was like, for example, Kodak and I don’t know, specifically Kodak’s like brandstory, to be totally honest, but if I was going to infer it, it probably has something to do with developing the very best camera technology and having the very best camera technology out there, lenses, lenses, all that kind of stuff. Now, if they had really focused more on selling the best experience to capture life’s moments, maybe the there would have been some flexibility or adaptability to saying like, huh, the camera, though, you know, the physical camera, or the lens may not be the right way at which to capture this anymore. And if I’m trying to sell capturing life’s moments, and that’s my thing that I’m actually selling, and that’s my brand story, then it gives a little bit of like, again, thought to maybe I need to evolve my technology, or maybe I need to evolve by what my product is in order to actually sell that, which is a higher order benefit, which is the impact I’m delivering, which people are going to pay more for. Right. So that I think gives the nuance here. And I if I were to look across each one, I could probably say the same thing for each of them that the brand story is probably developed too narrowly. And it did not focus on the impact that it was supposed to deliver. It focused too much on the what we do piece. And that is a flaw in each one of these. Yeah, I

April Martini 28:55
mean, I think you know, you mentioned Blockbuster and Netflix. And you know, there’s a documentary that exists out there that shows exactly what I just said. I mean, it’s like, okay, you know, we want to compete with blockbuster. Well, it started with DVDs, and it went to an online platform. And you know, now it’s divided up by your preferences. And you know, it’s just like, what, what’s going to come next, but it was all through that lens on providing that better experience for consumers so that when it failed, it wasn’t like, let’s just close up shop and quit. It was like, Okay, we still know that our essence is this. And this is what we’re standing for and what we want to deliver that mechanism just didn’t do it. Whereas if you’re too narrowly focused on whatever that is, then you say, Oh, we tried that and it didn’t work. So now what are we supposed to do? Because you’re not sure you don’t have that roadmap of where to go next? Yeah, your branch to be your

Anne Candido 29:43
truth teller. Exactly.

April Martini 29:46
All right, number four, we are in a new space and we’re not well known. What can the strong brand story do for us and all

Anne Candido 29:54
right, so if you’ve been listening, you probably pulled out a lot of these points for yourself. I will just hit The point that I really want to drive home, which is, it will help you drive efficiency, especially in your startup phase. Okay, as we talked about the decision making process in your ability, you’re gonna have a gazillion decisions on your plate that you’re going to have to make, right? From everything about how you’re going to produce or how you’re going to deploy to your team, like all these kinds of decisions. If you have a brand, and you’ve done that work and toil invest in that the rest of the decision process is going to be more efficiently driven, your resources are going to be used more efficiently, and what that ultimate is going to be able to do for you, and you’re going to be able to scale more quickly, you’re gonna be able to attract more people to you, like we said, and you’re gonna be able to command higher prices, because people are going to buy the emotional impact, people are going to choose you because they can relate to you. And with all of that, you’re you’re being more efficient in your resource spent. So that’s gonna allow you to have space, money time in order to be able to scale your business. So that that’s really the core of it. That is really the why now what people are tending to do as in default is they follow others, they’ll follow the big brands, they’ll follow other brands that are in the industry, it is the biggest mistake ever, because what happens when you follow is you then commoditize the whole industry, you commoditize yourself with the industry too. And then you start competing on the same platform. And that is not going to work, you can’t follow somebody else down the road and expect to beat them when they’re already like Way ahead of you. So you’re going to have to carve your own road. And you’re going to have to develop those pieces, like we’ve talked about that are going to be intrinsically tied to your brand are going to make people want to choose you. Yeah, and

April Martini 31:47
I would say a couple things here. Number one, the big guys can’t always move the fastest, right? So if you build your brand appropriately, they might have a strong brand too. But just by nature, you’re gonna be more nimble, because you’re not as big. So to Anne’s point about not following their path, definitely don’t do that or try to do that. I mean, you’re not going to be able to beat them tomorrow. Squash you. Yeah. So make sure that, again, your brand story is really strong and differentiating from them, and then go chase that versus chasing whatever they did. Because we have this trend right now where niche brands are perceived as more authentic. And there’s a whole subset of consumers that want to fill in the blank by local, or, you know, give back to small businesses or go completely against the big guys and what they do. And so part of this right is identifying that group of people you want to surround ourselves with and being really clear on that. But I think to Anne’s point, that me too, strategies seems easier, but it actually is harder, because you’re not them. And it’s also harder, because they’ve built their own playbook by that point. And so you don’t know how they got from where they are to, you know, from where they were to where they are today, and what they’re going to be doing in the future. So you’re always going to be playing catch up. And that’s definitely not a place you want to be. So all right, question number five, how do I use my brand story? Where does it show up? And this is another one we get fairly frequently from people where we’ve built the story. And then it’s like, okay, great, I have it. Now, how do I use it? And we would say very specifically, there are some places so the about section of your website, as the foundation to your social strategy, which channels you choose what type of messages and where you want to be all the marketing and advertising campaigns that you put forth. Again, we talked about brand character and brand story working together and making sure that the essence of who you are and how you speak comes through, all of those things are the same. So you know, client presentations, areas where you’re pitching yourselves, how your people speak about what they do every day, every single touchpoint for your brand, should be based on your brand’s story and through that Brand Character filter. And some companies choose to be really, really overt and share the exact story that they have internally on all those channels. I just said their website, the about us page, all of that, you know, there are positive reasons for doing that. It makes it really clean and clear you come across as a very transparent company. So what you say the the consumer should be able to feed back because there is that you know, line that makes a ton of sense. In other instances, there may be reasons for why you know, the way you position your brand story internally versus externally. I mean, maybe the people you’re trying to recruit are different than the consumer you want to reach. And so it’s not that you fundamentally change that story. It’s more that you think about the lens of the people you’re trying to pull into you and so there may be reasons for creating new nuances that then catch people where they are and bring them in for the brand experience kind of across the board. We also say that the brand story should be shared as the starting point for why every single every single time, we’ve talked a lot about emotion here and not function, making sure that people really get that essence of who you are, I think one of the things that we see happen when you don’t have a strong brand story is you don’t have the confidence to go tell your why through that lens. And so you end up with things like billboards with way too many words, you’re gonna cause accidents on the highway, because people were trying to read or packaging at the shelf that has 18 claims on it instead of your brand leading the way and really creating some breathability, quite frankly, for people to choose you. I mean, there are tons of examples, we can tell you of where this happens, and where it happens in the wrong way. But really, if you leave with that brand story, people get you that much faster, and then are able to want to join you to the points we made early on. It’s also less important. When we talk about, you know, the translation We’ve had clients get caught up on like, but if I share the story, and people don’t feed it back exactly right, is that wrong? It’s like, well, no, because every person has a slightly different interpretation. And actually, it’s better that way. So as you create word of mouth and community externally, or you build, you know, momentum internally from your people, everyone should own your brand story as if it’s part of themselves. So as long as the essence of the message kind of that core, you know, statement, if you will, comes out in their own words, there can be a million different ways to say the same thing. So greater risk, if you don’t put your brand story out there externally, less risk if you have people reading it back to you in a slightly different way.

Anne Candido 36:47
And just to pull out a couple of things that you said there. As an example of a over brandstory, I would say what we have posted on our forthright people page is a pretty overt brand story, if you go and you and the first thing that we have is why we exist, why you should choose us. And it rolls all add into the emotional impact that we’re going to deliver as a result of you doing work with us. So that’s an example of an overt one we can’t really share our clients once for because it becomes a little part of their you know, their IP. And so if you’re looking for an example, like okay, what is the brand story look like overtly, that would be one example. But then the other point they were making about the implied brand stories, as it’s fed through all the marketing channels, right, like, so if you’re doing your social strategy, your brand story should be where you stem it from, you can understand what buckets or what pillars you’re going to, to proliferate your social pages with, if you don’t understand what is important for your brand, which is what the essence of your brand story is all about, and who you’re gonna communicate to. So all those are really, really core. Otherwise, it’s kind of like, again, very loosey goosey with regards to what it’s going to do for you. Because what you could then put out there may not resonate back to your brand is not going to be connected back to your brand. So I think that gives you guys a couple of ways to kind of interpret what a overt one looks like. So you have an example there, as well as how you might take the brand story and why it’s important that it serves as the basis for all your other marketing channels.

April Martini 38:26
Yeah, and I think one thing and said there that’s worth building on is you she mentioned social, and there’s so many more channels out there now more than ever before, not just socially, but across the board with the digital world, and then all of the traditional advertising and campaign options that are out there. And so even more reason that you have to have a strategy overall against the brand story, and then a strategy for each of the channels. Because if you don’t, and I’ll use social as a specific example. It becomes whatever the channel best practices are. And so many times we’ve had clients come to us and say, We’re doing what’s best for the channel, but it’s not working and we’re not getting any engagement. Well, it’s because they either don’t have a brand story, or they’re not using it with the way that the channel works best. And so they are just putting out messages that people are like, it could have come from anyone based on what the channel looks for beautiful images on Instagram, you know, job posts on LinkedIn, there’s no personality associated with it for someone to say yes, I want to choose them versus all the other options that are on the platform. All right, our sixth and final question, is there a formula for creating a brand story and

Anne Candido 39:42
there is but it’s flexible? So I’ll say that and it all depends. Not independent does it’s yeah, there. There is. But yeah, so yeah, that’s kind of funny. Um, but I’ll leave with the fact if you need help and readiness Have you actually once admit it’s a little bit more formulaic ly written out, we’re going to put a special worksheet under our deep dive section on our website, on this one, so that you have a bit more of a guide. So I’m going to tell you a little bit about this on a more general basis. But that will like actually, like guided out for you. But it’s really important at first you need to, again, define your brand. So we’ve talked about this be clear about why you exist, put your stake in the ground, don’t just list all the things that you do, we’ve talked about that, okay, then you want to pick your consumer target. This is very important. And we didn’t mention this as probably as early as we should have earlier, you need to talk to somebody, a lot of people will say, Well, I don’t want to narrow down, you know who I’m talking to, I don’t want to alienate anybody. By doing that, you’re going to mean nothing to nobody. So you really, really need to pick a target to talk to you. And it could be a couple of different targets to and that’s fine. But they really need to have a common thread that your brand story is going to resonate with. That’s where you know, as you get later on in your in your marketing channels, you may flex your brand story, and you might pull out different portions of it in order to target those, those consumer groups a little bit more specifically. But in general, your brand story should resonate with all of them. Again, you’d be very careful, you don’t make it so generic that it then feels like it’s more appealing, but then it doesn’t mean anything, okay. And to that point, you have to assert yourself, you have to clear the Find how you’re going to differentiate and really offer something better than your your competition, you have to give people a reason to choose you. Right, and then make sure it’s feels human, we’ve talked about this too. So it’s got to be a bit honest, a bit authentic, a bit vulnerable, but always be real, okay, guys, because this is going to be the way that you emotionally engage with people, you can’t connect relationally if you’re not willing to put yourself out there. And then choose your tone and what we’ve talked about from a tone of voice standpoint, it needs to reflect your brand, but it also needs to reflect how you want to show up and what kind of to use April’s analogy earlier, what kind of friend do you want to be right? So that people know, hey, this is the friend for me, and I am the friend for them. So you want to be able to make that connection, you’re not gonna be able to make that connection if you’re not human. And you’re not don’t have that personality and make your brand come to life. Yeah,

April Martini 42:27
and I would say, you know, we’ve said that this does take a little bit of work. So you know, we’re gonna put the worksheet online that will help you step through each of these things, and really help you be thoughtful about it while also pragmatically putting the pieces together. But also know that there is nuance. So you know, I made the joke at the beginning about it depends, which is always one of my favorite things to say. But there are different types of brand stories out there, these are the building blocks of the things that you must include in order to get there. There’s also a few other things like, don’t be too long, don’t try to get too cute, don’t try to use big words, you know, all of these things that we can help you with, quite frankly, and that that worksheet will help you with. But this is where the homework really is, which is why we’ve started here today is really spending the time and making sure that you are very clear, and emotionally driven. When you make the selections against defining your brand, picking your target, asserting yourself in the category being human, and then choosing the tone of voice by which you’re going to speak. So this is really hugely important. This might be for those of you trying to actually write your brand story right now this might be the most important thing we’ve said to you today in order for you to go and do coming out of this episode.

Anne Candido 43:50
And just one final point on that one. We love this topic is that it needs to clearly articulate the impact to so within this certain yourself and communicating at a human level. That’s where you articulate your impact. So I just wanted to make sure I connected those dots in case I wasn’t clear, very fair. And of course, if you need more help, we’ve said it reach out to us go find that worksheet. Use our website as an example like ansaid for a brand story, and we’re here for you when you need us.

April Martini 44:19
So with that, we will move to our third and final segment, which is a real world example of a brand who is doing things well or not so well. And the brand that has been chosen today is Moxy Hotels by Marriott, which is a subset of the Marriott brand and if you’re familiar with them, you probably know they have courtyard residents in traditional Marriott, those are more based on your need long term versus short term or cost effective versus not. Then they have a different sort of selection which is super high end like the Ritz-Carlton or a little arts year and maybe boujier which is their Autograph Hotel collection. And with the proliferation of all the decisions they’ve made around the brand, they identified that there was an underserved section of the population. So again to making sure that you choose your target well, and they felt like through the lens of their brand, which was about, you know, being able to find one in the locations that made sense, getting really good service, but customized service to your needs. And also in an effort to continue to be new and different. They created the Moxie Hotel, which is for a millennial Globetrotter as the target. So forget word that we have COVID Right now, but, you know, millennial Globetrotter, which they’re, you know, they are a little bit different of a population. And the way that I think is really interesting that they define this hotel is that it’s affordable, yes, but it’s still stylish and above all playful. And I think that’s awesome, because it isn’t a way that I’d ever heard a hotel chain described also something to be offered for Marriott, which still, you know, affordable and stylish, but then bringing in a whole new thing into the mix. And addressing this underserved consumer set through this brand story that talks more about an experience that this target would want and I will tell you right now, so my husband and I took a trip to Louisville, there’s an autograph hotel, it’s brand new. And on the backside, there’s a Moxie hotel that’s brand new. And so I experienced the difference in the brand story firsthand, we went to the autograph first got the usual experience, gorgeous hotel, very artsy, super high end, there’s artwork everywhere. I mean, it’s just gorgeous. And then they sent us over actually to say, you know, you’re a titanium member, go see the Moxie. Tell us what you think. And so you walk in, it’s like you’re walking into a bar, there is no check in desk, you check in at the bar, they give you two drinks of your choice when you do so you go into the lobby area, there’s board games, and just like reasons to be part of the community while you’re there, and experience, you know, parts of the hotel that are in, you know, in tandem with how this Globetrotter thinks, which is all about experiences. And so at every turn, they’re trying to be more experiential, but through the lens of that target with the drinks, the games, the rooms are very minimalist, because the idea is you don’t spend a lot of time in there, but they’re very tech enabled. So all of the devices and such that this target carries with them on their trips, there’s plenty of room and availability for access to all of that. And they’re really trying to not disrupt the travel that these, this group is aspiring to, but be part with the experience that they’re providing. And so it’s about nonconformity, open mindedness, originality, and they cultivate all of that within the space by feeling less of a hotel and more of an experience.

Anne Candido 47:55
So if you were gonna sum that all up, I’ll put April on the spot here for me, we’re gonna sum that all up. And just to like, you know, what, like, maybe the lead like brand story statement would be what do you think would just off the top of your head like, what do you think that would be? So I think it’s a encompass all that

April Martini 48:12
it’s a hotel for the millennial Globetrotter, which I’ll use that because I think that’s a really good articulation, but in which they can continue their experience while at the hotel, not sacrifice, the experiential nature of what they’re trying to do, and continue to be part of the community and the environment, which they’ve chosen to travel to.

Anne Candido 48:34
Wow. Not bad, I

didn’t even prep that.

I totally put her on the spot. I told her put her on, which means she doesn’t

April Martini 48:42
think I was very clear and concise and giving my explanation. So there you go. You got it at the end?

Anne Candido 48:47
Well, no, because I think people are still maybe still be thinking like what’s give me an example like, what does this actually look like? So I thought you did a really good job of that and articulating what those elements would have been based on the criteria you’ve given. Yeah. So

April Martini 49:01
and I will say, Marriott fan or not give them a you know, a look because it really is quite cool. So in any case, I think that is everything that we have for you today. And so we will say as usual, go and exercise your Marketing Smarts. Still need help in growing your Marketing Smarts? Contact us through our website: We can help you become a savvier marketer through coaching or training you and your team or doing the work on your behalf. Please also help us grow the podcast by rating and reviewing on your player of choice and sharing with at least one person. Now, go show off your Marketing Smarts!