10 Tips To Help You Tell Brand Stories

⌛ By Kaylin R. Staten 

There's nothing better than reading, watching or playing a game with a good story. With your business, nonprofit organization, event or wherever you find yourself, you have to have a good story or your efforts will fall through the cracks.

Whether you’ve just started your brand or are looking toward a refresh, here are 10 branding tips you can put to immediate use:

Be authentic.

All of us can spot a BS brand from a mile away, whether it’s a pyramid scheme or a brand voice that doesn’t match behaviors. One of the most important components of any brand is to be authentic. Sure, everyone won’t like you and your brand, but there will be plenty who do! If you focus on mental health solutions, then include that in your owned and rented platforms. Also, be ethical. If you use a related-to-your-brand photo on Instagram or another platform that isn’t yours, credit the photographer. Just like you credit someone in a press release, you need to give credit where it’s due in online capacities, too. Honesty is the best policy.

Use color psychology.

This is one of my favorite ways to showcase who and what a brand is. Colors invoke so many emotions for all of us, whether you like bright, airy colors to promote happiness throughout your home or you use a bright red Sharpie pen to edit rough drafts. All of us use colors to formulate our emotions -- even if we don’t realize it at the moment. When you have a brand, you can plan colors just like you plan everything else. Do your research. What does your brand do, say, aspire to be? For example, Hourglass Media uses teal, dark teal, black, gold and red to tell our brand story. Teal and dark teal represent creativity, balance and introspection. Black is used to denote endings and beginnings, strength and a voice of authority within the industry. Red showcases passion for our work, warmth and energy. The gold ties all of the colors together in an art-deco bow with the following characteristics: caregiving, dependability, thoroughness and loyalty. Find your own brand color.

Be consistent.

It could be confusing for your followers if you constantly change your brand. You want them to know your content even if they’re quickly scrolling through their Instagram feeds or reading a form email, it’s vital to be consistent. This includes through your brand’s voice and tone, color schemes, logos, fonts and more. Create your family of templates, from social media graphics and other external documents to letterheads and other internal documents. If you post content, then post it at the same time every week or timeframe of your choice. Your followers will begin to recognize that Thursdays at 3:30 p.m. are your blog days, for instance. Consistency builds your reputation and strengthens your brand.

Craft clear mission and vision statements.

Your mission explains what you do and your vision is the utopia of what you want your brand to be. Create a mission and vision statement, or as I like to call them, the Prime Directive. What is the main idea of your business? What do you want to achieve with it? What do you offer? Learn more with our free eBook.

Here’s our current mission statement/Prime Directive:

Hourglass Media cultivates the timely and refined communications story you never knew you always wanted through writing, public relations, mentorship/coaching and more.

One of our vision statements is:

Hourglass Media seeks to be a thought leader of the public relations industry.

List your values.

You may or may not choose to publicize your values; however, you garner a strong brand when you know what it stands for. If you’re starting a nonprofit, some of your values could be passionate, understanding, giving and loyalty. Create a master list of your brand’s values, as well as personal ones, to structure your brand, daily goals/objectives and causes your brand supports.

Do research.

The first step to any campaign or branding initiative is to assess the problem. Do you have a cutting edge view on the market and see a gap in your industry? Are you wanting to develop a brand because you see an overarching problem within your community? Are you want to use your skill set for a specific purpose? Take time to conduct primary and secondary research to see what resonates with your target publics. Assess them using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, The Excellence Pyramid, customers avatars and more. The more thorough you are, the better you brand will be.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.

Be ahead of the curve. All of us know that technology rules the modern world. We can pull up any app or website on the device in the palm of our hand, and we are more connected to the world at large than ever. Use this to your benefit! During the Research and Planning stages of your brand, brainstorm some innovative strategies and tactics to employ as you unveil your brand or continue to hone in on your brand’s current story. For example, start using bots to help you manage easy comments on your social-media channels. Pay attention to industry standards, case studies and trends. Don’t be afraid to try something new! It could pay off for you and your brand.

Build a connection with your audience.

You could have the best brand and content in the world, but if no one knows about it, then you may not see the success you envision for your brand. Outreach in every possible way during the Implementation phase. Follow other like-minded brands and individuals and talk with them openly on their social media channels. Outreach to your current networks and expand your in-person and online networks any chance you get. This could be from sending an email request to a potential partner or by attending a networking event in your neck of the woods. Use the multiple point-of-sale method and other strategies and tactics that work best with your specific publics. (Sidenote: Publics are mutually beneficial groups who use two-way communication, while an audience usually uses one-way communication without a feedback loop and conversations with your brand.)

Use compelling visuals.

No one wants to stare at words all day. OK, OK, except if you’re a writer! In today’s fast-paced, I-want-it-now world we live in, the more compelling your content is, the better for your brand. Use videos with closed-captioning in case your followers have their device’s sound off. Craft graphics through relatable messages, testimonials and photos. If you don’t have the budget for a DSLR, use your cell phone to capture photos, videos, .gifs and more. Today’s cell phones take some remarkable photos! (Sidenote: take a photography class if you want to hone your skills.)

Look to other brands.

Throughout the RPIE (Research, Planning, Implementation and Evaluation) process, see what others are doing. Have you seen successful brands telling their stories lately? You can take a little bit from your favorite brands to add elements to your own story.

Copyright © MMXVIII Hourglass Media, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Media, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV. 

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