Many first-time entrepreneurs quickly find out that merely having value is irrelevant. Being good at something means nothing without the communication that will get others to accept that value into their lives. And as every good educator knows, just listing facts about something is not a good way to get it to stick in someone’s mind.
To really get through to a specific audience in a meaningful way, you must present information in a way that corresponds to how your listeners take in information. This is why narrative is paramount to your success. Narratives are how we structure information with character and changing emotions. Narratives allow us to see how something relates to ourselves and whatever matters most to us. They paint a picture in our minds to feel attached to and recall more easily later on. If you can learn to talk about your brand identity and everything you produce in the right way, regardless of what you are selling, your audience will listen, and they will become emotionally engaged.
No matter the product, the service, the industry, or the target demographic, everything in brand identity comes down to the meaning of the message. And where does that message come from? It is an expression of the core values of the people behind a business and the reason they choose to do what they do Those values are ultimately what differentiate one person from another, and the identities of business even within the same industry niche.
There is no faster way to garner the lasting respect of employees, partners, and consumers than to become the embodiment of an ideal.
The goal in branding is to rise above an identity a mere company composed of people producing goods. It is to become synonymous with the deeper meaning which drives the sale and use of your products. It is the virtue which causes your team to care about the things you do, and the aspirations your buyers also aspire toward. What is it that you want your audience, and the general public, to think and feel when they look at your logo? Superman’s shield inspires hope and heroism. What intangible value do you bring into the world?
Every passionate entrepreneur can have their brand become an embodiment of what they are trying to stand for – both internally with their employees and partners, or externally with their customers. It’s about more than just making revenue. It about being known for the higher ambitions that are most important to you, and the principles you will never back down from. That larger narrative is what builds trust from others, because they know what principles drive your actions. They know what you will always strive toward, even in less-than-ideal conditions. It is the basis of your integrity.
The greater the meaning behind your business, the harder it becomes to communicate it to the world.
There used to be a simpler time for a growing business where marketing was just centered around simple, singular feature, such as being faster, stronger, cheaper than your competitors. Domino’s “30-minute delivery or it’s free” guarantee is the classic example. It’s an entire identity and USP built around one very simple idea, which has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of their pizza. But these tactics fail to work for 99% of small business owners. A much more personal approach is needed, one which demonstrates the personality of the brand and the dynamics of the customer relationship.
The more unique your product, and the greater meaning behind the values you want associated with your brand, the more you are going to have to educate prospects. They won’t immediately know why they should choose yours over another they are already more familiar with. Additionally, the more expensive your product, the truer this becomes. Any new idea has to be introduced with care to an existing mental paradigm, or it risks being rejected because it is just too new.
History is full of great scientists, philosophers, artists, and inventors too far ahead of their own time. They were underappreciated, ignored, or even scorned, while they were alive because the paradigms of their generation were not wide enough to include the enormous value they brought. They failed to educate and incentivize their audience to listen and retain. Generations later, we finally caught up to where they had already been. Humans just aren’t wired to accept things that are too new, unless the resistance to change can be lowered with strategic communication.
The keys to arriving at your own compelling brand identity are questioning and introspection.
Sometimes, just being asked a highly targeted question and forcing yourself to sit with it until a meaningful answer can arise is all that is required to have a major identity breakthrough. People often just don’t know what direction to look in, or they stop looking as soon as easy answers present themselves. They must find the strength to go deeper than that. They have to be willing to be uncomfortable and sit with that dissonance until they finally uncover the deeper motivation behind their work.
The right questions are the ones which make business owners think differently about something they believed that they already understood. If you don’t know the answers to questions like what might prevent a prospect from getting the full intended value your services, you haven’t really looked at them from an outsider’s perspective. You are blinded by optimism and familiarity. If you don’t know what specific emotions customers should be associating with your brand, you won’t be able to direct that experience. If you can’t explain how your product accomplishes a specific result in a way a 10-year-old could understand, you haven’t learned to communicate well enough.
- Who you are (your brand personality)
- What you offer (the function of your products and services)
- Why a specific type of person should care (the main benefits they have on a unique target demographic).
Those can all be combined into a really attractive company narrative. Soon, you won’t just be another purveyor of goods on the market. You will be solving a specific problem, in a specific way, for a specific type of person, and as a specific person. And you will never have to fight for meaning in your industry ever again.