As someone who has been dedicated to helping people and brands succeed with their target audiences for over two decades, one of the truths I’ve come to learn during my time in this business is that no two organizations are created in quite the same way.
Over the years, we’ve worked with a number of Fortune 1000 brands like Thor Industries, as well as mid-size companies like El Cap, just to name a few. We’ve worked with hundreds of existing brands to refresh, rebuild or reinvigorate their brand AND their brand story and, I’m here to tell you, they all often run into the exact same problems – whether they’re small, medium or Fortune 1000 companies doesn’t matter.
When a brand is losing sales, it’s rarely the result of any one major mistake and is usually about a series of smaller ones that you may not even realize are happening. It’s the unseen crack in the hull that will ultimately sink your ship. Sometimes you’re just attracting the wrong customers in the first place. There are people who would benefit from your work who aren’t engaging with you. There’s a change you seek to make in the culture, but it’s not happening.
In the immediate aftermath of this realization, a few things usually happen. You feel like you’re wasting your marketing investment and, as a result, you lose confidence in both your marketing and your messaging. Your sales and marketing teams are very aware that something is wrong, but they aren’t exactly sure what that crucial element is.
Your business feels misunderstood and you’re not sure where to begin to fix it. You don’t know who you should be talking to and, quickly, frustration begins to set in with the entire process. You may even be hearing people on your team say things like “we need to tell a better story” or “customers think we do something different than we really do, or don’t offer a solution to meet their needs.”
If any or even all of that sounds familiar, take comfort in knowing that it’s a phenomenon that a lot of brands experience – even the big ones. I even experienced it myself, with my company Wildstory. Originally, we were positioned as a PR firm and were attracting clients that need PR. Soon, we realized we were actually a branding and marketing firm – something that required us to realign our brand storytelling around who we really were.
This is something that played out over time, which I believe is what happens in the majority of situations. You start with a vivid idea in mind and then, one day, wake up and don’t understand how you’re either not the company you want to be or aren’t the organization you thought you were building. It’s like you’re trying to run in mud and can’t figure out why you’re facing so much resistance.
Everything feels like a slog, because it is. It all got that way for a simple reason: you’re not communication that compelling brand story that your customers need to hear.
With regard to Wildstory our original brand was “losing us sales” in that it didn’t reflect who we were as a business or what we were trying to do. If we didn’t understand ourselves, how could we reasonably expect our ideal customer to understand any of those same qualities?
The answer was simple – we couldn’t.
When the business you want to be running is aligned with the business your customers think you’re running, that’s when your brand is on fire and ready to have free ambassadors and salespeople in the form of those satisfied, existing clients. Everyone will be talking about you and, more importantly, referring you.
When one of those ISN’T matching the other is where a gap develops.
If you’re currently losing sales and aren’t sure why, the bad news is that you’re probably experiencing the exact same thing – your brand is “off” and you didn’t realize it. The problem is often misdiagnosed, but it really lives at the foundational brand and brand strategy level.
But the good news is that we were able to quickly turn things around at Wildstory and you can, too. Our realignment was a game changer for us and it absolutely can be for you, too – you just have to keep a few key things in mind along the way.
Define the Brand
One lesson that I had to learn the hard way - and one mistake that a lot of businesses make - involves a lack of a genuine brand strategy at the heart of their efforts. A brand strategy is really a customer strategy - it's one that can only be developed with an intense understanding of your market, and it involves customer-focused efforts that put the emphasis not on what you can do, but what you can do for THEM.
A Real World Example
One example of work we've done with clients to that end takes the form of El Cap. In this case, the merging of two companies required us to help the people at El Cap forge an entirely new brand and a new brand story to go with it. By creating a customer-focused strategy and by allowing that to drive a lot of the outward-facing decisions they were making, it led to not only increased membership for the El Cap gym network - it also led to higher levels of employee engagement and retention and, most importantly, revenue as well.
Design the Brand
Along the same lines, once your brand strategy is in place you need to make sure your messaging actually reinforces those critical impressions that you're trying to communicate. Not only will this allow you to enter your market with a new level of confidence, but it will also allow you to immediately start attracting better clients, too.
Again, every last element of your messaging needs to reinforce not what your brand does in a literal sense, but why it's so important and what level of raw value you bring to the table on behalf of your consumers. What do you do and why would someone care? How are you going to make their lives better or easier? What can you give them that they can't find somewhere else? These are the questions that you need to answer time and time again.
Backed By Science
You also need to do so visually whenever possible, as human beings are nothing if not visual learners. One recent study indicated that 65% of the population learns better visually than through any other technique. Not only does supporting your messaging with complementary and relevant visuals help people better understand even the most complicated concepts, but it also creates a much more intimate and organic experience too by giving people something inherently compelling to latch onto.
Live the Brand
Once these elements are in place, the next thing you need to do involves actually honing your brand storytelling. After building and designing the critical narrative at the heart of your organization, you need to use your content and other creative assets to "live the story," so to speak.
A Real World Example
This is something we were able to do with our friends at Healing Arts - a medical startup that was focused on transforming the oncology treatment experience by inspiring joy, happiness and hope to not only patients and caregivers, but to staff and artists as well.
Naturally, that process can get a bit technical and leaning in on those elements will always keep an audience at arm's length. But by making sure that Healing Arts' content and other creative assets lived the story - by guaranteeing that every piece of collateral that someone would come into contact with reaffirmed those qualities of joy, happiness and hope - suddenly people were exposed to the Healing Arts brand in an entirely new way. One that not only conveyed what Healing Arts actually did in a way that everyone could understand, but that also underlined exactly why it was all so important in the first place.
If these are the types of struggles that you're currently experiencing in terms of brand storytelling, don't worry - I'd like to help. It's my mission and purpose in life to help organizations like yours better connect with their target audiences in a way that creates a mutually beneficial relationship for all involved and I'd be honored for the opportunity to do the same for you, too.
At this point, I'd recommend contacting either myself or a colleague to book your brand audit and assessment. It's a sophisticated in-house process that allows us to learn as much about your business as possible, thus putting us in a better position to help you get clear on exactly what is possible with your brand. It's also a great way to become clear on the root cause of your frustration, too - thus giving you a chance to correct those issues as quickly as possible.
If you'd like to schedule a call you can email me at: marc at wildstory dot com to get going!
What’s a Rich Text element?
The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.
Static and dynamic content editing
A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!
How to customize formatting for each rich text
Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.