The Authentic Brand Storytelling Platform

As a small business and business owner it can be challenging knowing where to begin with brand storytelling. What’s your first steps, how do you develop a storytelling strategy, and how does the story align with your business goals and vision?

For you to become intentional and strategic in your brand building work, you need a structured way to organise all the different elements that goes into expressing your brand story. A platform that can help you get a clearer picture of how it all fits together, and how you can use each element intentionally and in a deliberate way in your everyday brand building work and decision making.

You want to live and tell a brand story that resonates with the intended people, to build an audience and community around what your brand stand for, what you value and how you can help them live a better life through the problems you help them overcome.

Brand building and brand storytelling should be tools at your service as a business owner, not something abstract. They are the way you get your message out there, and how you will connect on a personal level with your audience and customers, through resonating on an emotional level.

The Anatomy of The Brand Storytelling Platform

Your Brand’s Authentic Storytelling Platform has four pillars, with additional two human elements.

The Human Connection – Person to Person

  • The Founder(s)
  • Your Audience

The 4 Pillars of the Platform

  1. The Brand
  2. Your Narrative
  3. Your Media
  4. The Experience 
ABS Platform Elements

THE FOUNDER(S) – The Source of Your Brand’s Authenticity

When we want to develop an authentic brand identity and story it needs to be rooted in some deeper truth. For a brand, that source of authenticity is the founder of the company. As the founder you are the heart and soul of your brand, the one with the vision of what direction you want to take the brand towards. The brand’s values and purpose starts with you.

This doesn’t mean that your brand identity will not be affected by other people, or how you interact with your audience or people you work with. But as the creator of the business you embody the brand’s soul and heart. As you build your brand, if there is too wide of a gap between who you are as a person, and how you express your brand story you will struggle with having to upkeep and maintain a second persona that will deplete your energy must faster on unnecessarily second-guessing your brand building efforts. 

As the founder, it will become easier to make strategic brand building decisions when the brand you are building is in alignment with your values, and who you are as a person. You know when it feels right or wrong, even if you can’t express it in words.

This first step requires a bit of self-discovery, reflection and time, but is well worth the effort. You can also ask people who know you well, to start the process, but it’s only you who can know if its true or not.

Who are you and what do you value?

What to define, includes: 

  • Your personal values
  • Your personal purpose for starting the business
  • Your personal vision
  • What you do & why you do it

YOUR AUDIENCE – Where the Story Comes Alive

Your authentic story has the power to build a community around your story, based on your values, culture and how you see the world. Without a doubt, when your brand takes a stand for or against something, you will drive off people who the story doesn’t agree with. Your story also works in a way that attracts your ideal clients or customers, and repel those who you cannot help or serve.

As you build your audience your story will come alive in the hearts and minds of those people.

For Example: When working with me, we would define your 3 to 4 ideal audiences, and create the Audience Persona for each one. In this way we would get to know them a little better – know who they are, what they value and where you can reach them. It is from this Audience pool your Ideal Customer or Client will come from.

This is just a short overview, because there are many ways and techniques how you can go about collecting data and building Audience Personas.

Audience Building Challenge: How to scale relationships?

What to define, includes: 

  • 3 – 4x Ideal Audiences
  • 3 – 4x Audience Personas – Demographics, psychographics

1. THE BRAND

The first Pillar is your brand. As a collective term, whether you are a Solopreneur, Small Business or Medium-sized Business, you and your team are the Storyteller of your Brand Story. Every part of you business either moves your story forward or backwards.

How I view brand building might differ from how others use the term and what it encompasses. For me a brand, brand building and brand storytelling is not only about the emotional gut feeling, as defined by Marty Neumeier:

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company.”

‘The Brand Gap’ by Marty Neumeier

In the world of storytelling it’s about the meaning behind the brand that matters. In essence, it’s about all the things that affects your brand’s own internal culture, as well as the emotional impact of your interactions with the external world, which your products and services are a part of.

What to define, includes:  

  • The brand values
  • Your purpose & why you exist as a brand
  • Your vision & mission
  • What you do & why you do it
  • Define your authentic brand identity

2. YOUR NARRATIVE

The second Pillar is where you’ll define your brand’s narratives, themes, topics and core brand stories. These will become the foundation of how you’ll live and tell your story. It’s where you reveal who you are, what you stand for and why it matters.

These topics and themes are relevant to what you do and what your audience cares about. This includes your own expertise, knowledge and experience, but also social issues that shows what you value and what you stand for. You’ll use these issues, themes, and topics as a way to talk about and connect with your audience. Through the different narratives you can help people solve a problem, inspire them to take action, lead by example or just let them know they matter.

Your origin story, narratives, themes and marketing messages should all feel relevant and be in alignment with your overall reason for being, how you live your mission on a daily basis, and where you are going, as defined by your dream. These are what cultures are built upon, and what we believe in collectively.

A narrative can work in two ways: 

  1. To tell and advance your brand’s story
  2. or… as a counter-story – a story that has a message against your brand, and is designed to work against your message or truth.

What to define, includes: 

  • Your Narratives – Topics, themes and issues you care about and can talk about with confidence
  • Your Marketing Messages – Unique Value Proposition (UVP) & Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
  • Your Origin Story – How your business came to be, why that matters
  • Your Founder Story – Your backstory that builds your personal brand
  • Your Leadership Story

3. YOUR MEDIA

For the third Pillar I broaden the term ‘Media’ to include content and events as a container of delivering your brand story and experience. Media is the way you will get your message and brand story out there.

What is key to understand here is that each brand should be or is their own media company. Long gone are the days of a few mass-media channels as the best way, now with so many channels and ways to reach your audience, every company must know where their audience spend their time, because this is the only way one can control and get your narrative out there as clearly and intended as possible. If you are in aggressive market you might be affected by someone wanting to undermine your message by spreading lies or distorting the truth.

The first step would be to choose your main media channels, based on the research and data you collected about your Ideal Audience, and where they spend their time. But also where they might move on next to, but this depends on the type off audience you are trying to reach – are they pioneers or lagging behind the rest? 

Your brand’s media spaces are places where you can connect with your audience, interact and build your own little communities. 

I’ve included a list of common media channels where you can control and be in charge of publishing content or the experience. Some channels change their algorithms regularly that affects the preferred format or type of content or way to present it to their users. If you can bring your audience over to media channels you have control over, it would prevent you from being at the mercy of algorithms and other’s whims.

GOAL: Build up your brand’s media company & get your story out.

Some of the most common media channels you can use includes: 

  • Your own website(s)
  • Create your own magazine, or print newsletter, eNewsletter, Email
  • Events
  • Memberships
  • Podcast – Soundcloud, Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher
  • Social Media – LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, Vimeo
  • Ad platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Adwords, magazines, newspapers

4. THE EXPERIENCE

The Fourth and last Pillar is where your brand and your Audience come together and your brand story truly comes alive – the Experience.

The purpose of the Brand Storytelling Platform is to have a more structured way to create those valuable storytelling moments, and opportunities to live your brand story. You can focus on building your brand and reach the goals and dreams you set out as a Founder to achieve.

GOAL: To bring your brand story to life.

The Authentic Brand Storytelling Platform

Here’s to Dreams, and all the Northern Creators who follow them!

Yours, Marko

PS. This article may contain typos, grammatical errors, and other glitches due to the unfiltered process it’s created in.

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