Category: Marketing and Brand Development
For most of us, describing our brand is a challenge. We can point to a logo, website or mission statement, but is that really our brand? A Story Standards Guide makes it possible for you to describe your brand through storytelling, the oldest and most compelling means of communication.
Complementing Brand Standards
To describe or illustrate a brand, businesses and organizations have traditionally turned to their individual brand standards guide - a.k.a. brand standards manual, brand-communication standards or brand style guide. This guide includes things like your company's mission and vision statements, usage standards for logo mark, color palette, typography or fonts and trademark guidelines. This piece of your brandís story is important. A brand standards guide enables you to maintain design consistency and key message consistency. This only takes you part of the way, though.
Where the brand standards guide often falls short is how well it benefits every part of your company. A brand standards guide isn't able to tell the sales team, employee communications team, executive team or even the in-house marketing team how to tell a story. On the other hand, a Story Standards Guide helps seep the entire story into your companyís culture. It's the first place to go for creating new content, addressing audience pain points and figuring out how to break down misconceptions.
A Mission Is Not a Story
Iíve often heard a brand described as a mission, and vice versa. The mission of your company should guide your brand's voice, but it is not the words that voice speaks. Your mission is a self-imposed objective. Your story is so much more. But mission is a great starting point.
For example, if you are a pediatric care provider, your mission might lead to a voice that is quiet and caring, or one that is playful and forward-thinking. As a manufacturer of cabinet doors, a mission centered on fast response times might lead to a bold, casual voice. While a mission centered on high-tech craftsmanship might lend itself to more of an industry-leadership voice.
A Story Standards Guide Helps Your Bottom Line
Three further examples of how a Story Standards Guide works a bit differently from your brand standards guide:
1. Clarity and Efficiency. When your whole team is clear about what your brand is to lead them in content creation of all sorts, scrambling for consistency and story angles is unnecessary.
2. Strengthened Brand. The stronger your story, the stronger your brand. You will attract clients who appreciate and value your story either because they see themselves in your story or they value what you have shared.
3. Employee Loyalty. One could argue there isn't much a company cannot do when backed by a strong culture and a loyal team. This tool reinforces both. When your team understands how the company's stories drive the culture, they will take more pride in the part they play. The companyís employees are one of the most valuable assets and typically the company's largest investment. Invest deeply.
In our work helping clients find their story, we have found no process or standards exist to help a company compile and expand their story. We addressed this need by creating the Story Standards Guide. The guide includes:
-Primary subject of the story you should be telling (story of a brand, product, event, service or case study, etc.).
-The key messages the story needs to convey.
-The audience(s) the story should be reaching.
-A summary of the story you are telling.
-Characters to talk about.
-Conflicts to speak to.
-Tactics to reach the audience(s).
There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to telling an engaging story. Your company has its own set of needs and objectives, not to mention its own story to tell that is unlike any of your competitors' stories. You need to tell a story in a manner that is going to achieve the kind of results you want. Are you trying to sell something, to get donations, to raise awareness? How you tell the story depends on who you are talking to and what you want them to do with it.
A Story Standards Guide is one of your most valuable marketing assets. Just like your brand standards guide makes it possible for you to preserve the continuity of your brand, the Story Standards Guide makes it possible for you to tell your company's most engaging stories.
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