In 2008, a college student named Jenn was home for Thanksgiving when her sister showed off a designer dress that she went into credit card debt to purchase. In all likelihood, she would wear it maybe 2-3 times, but she was sinking $2000 into the dream of wearing a designer dress. Jenn went back to school and asked her friend Jenny what she thought of a business that let women live out their couture dreams without having to max out their credit cards on clothing they would likely wear only a few times.
After a cold email to Diane von Furstenberg that resulted in a meeting, the girls got to work, hosting a pop-up on their campus to see how college students reacted to the option of renting clothing. The confidence the clothing offered the girls trying them out only solidified their mission. These entrepreneurs were determined to give every woman access to an outfit that would make her feel her best.
This has been the guiding principle for Rent the Runway since it launched in 2009, and the concept of giving everyone the opportunity for that “Cinderella” moment by building a “closet in the cloud” has led to the business becoming a leader in the fashion industry. In fact, in March of 2019, it became valued at $1 billion, one of the few female-founded, female-run businesses to ever reach that milestone. The Rent the Runway brand is present in every product and service offered, as well as every message they send to their clients. It’s this clear brand story that gives people the immediate association with female empowerment when they hear the brand name.
Defining Your Brand
The term “brand story” is constantly used in the marketing world. It’s often said in the context of a marketing campaign, and it seems to encompass everything and nothing about what your brand is and how you convey your brand message to the public. However, as overused as the term might be, effective brand storytelling is crucial, and that’s why you hear marketers referencing these aspects of branding so often.
Which leads us to the question – how do you effectively tell your company’s story? Although there is no definitively right or wrong answer to this question, it begins and ends with how you build your brand. In this article, we will take you step-by-step through an effective strategy that will not only build a basis for your branded company story, but it will also set you up for sales and marketing alignment to maximize your marketing success.
How to Make Brand Decisions
Of course, once you’ve developed your brand narrative based on your audience, you’ll need to outline your brand messaging in a way that allows others to know not simply what you sell, but truly what you stand for. You can use the following brand storytelling strategies to do that:
1. Establish company values.
Core company values give direction to your employees and emphasize the main aspects of your company to your customers and business partners. When you write them down, it’s easier to tie your marketing and sales strategies back to your brand. They act as a base for the marketing materials and sales materials that come next.
2. Create a mission statement.
This is a basic outline of what your brand stands for and how you want to be identified in your industry. It includes your company values and the overarching goal for your company as a resource to your audience.
3. Define your product and services.
When you define your products and services, you want each of them to have a clear tie back to your brand. If there’s a product or service that does not relate to your target audience or your brand messaging in any way, then you should re-evaluate either how you define your brand or if that product adds value to your company.
How to Build a Solid Company Brand
There is no company storyline that will work out long term without a unique and strong brand behind it. So the first step in effectively selling your message to an audience is to move through these 4 steps:
Step 1: Start with your target audience.
Step 2: Establish their pain points.
Step 3: Answer the question: How do your products and services solve their problems?
Step 4: Develop your buyer personas.
Your company brand is heavily based on the audience you are trying to reach. You want to make it relatable and appealing to your buyer personas, and in order to do that, you need to know what makes them tick. If they go wild for sustainable businesses, part of your marketing messaging should include that. If they’re extremely results-oriented, you might decide to have a guarantee in place that assures them that collaborating with you will lead to a return on their investment.
In every case, knowing what will get your buyer persona’s attention and how you can effectively center your marketing around that thing will help you build a compelling brand that effectively engages your audience now and as you grow.
Injecting Your Brand Into Your Marketing
1.Tell your company story through every marketing campaign.
This one might seem obvious, but you’ll want to use your buyer personas and your brand messaging to tell the story of your company as you sell yourself to clients. Hearing about why your company is effective and how you’re solving problems for your customers is a powerful aspect of your marketing strategy. Every marketing campaign needs to relate to the buyer personas you’ve developed and discuss the story of your company values in some way.
2. Use social media.
Social media marketing is a major part of company brand building and developing a brand narrative. It’s really how you humanize your brand and give more engaging insights into your core values on a forum that people are already engaged with. By strategizing your social media posts to tell a compelling brand story, you give people a human face to associate it with. It’s easier to feel a connection to a person than a company, and this development of customer loyalty through social media is an invaluable resource to businesses.
How to Use Your Brand Messaging to Increase Sales
The name of the game is always to increase sales and build up your business effectively. Your brand and your marketing are a piece of that, but your sales team has to be on the same page to effectively carry out your brand messaging and ensure that your team is set up for success. In order to do this, you’ll want to take the following steps:
1. Establish sales and marketing alignment through your materials.
The first step in making sure that your sales and marketing team are working towards the same goals and selling the same story is to literally check their stories. If your marketing team is creating campaigns and content around a buyer persona, product, or service and your sales team is taking a completely different approach, there’s a fundamental disconnect that could cost you business.
You’ll want to make sure that both teams are working towards reaching the same audience in the same way. Their materials, pitches, and storylines should coincide with the essentials and be cohesive enough that they make sense to potential clients and your target audience. Sales and marketing alignment is an ongoing process that should be revisited regularly to make sure your teams are still working in tandem to reach similar goals.
2. Investigate Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is a fantastic tool for hyper-targeted marketing campaigns. By using influencers to reach a specific demographic and currently engaged audience, your marketing team will be able to develop specific campaigns to appeal to these audiences and they will get the extra punch of a trusted source to their influencers.
3. Engage with your customers.
If you’re struggling to find direction in your brand messaging, go right to the source! Ask your customers how they view your company, what makes them choose you over your competition, and how you could improve. Talking to the people who are actually making purchases means you’ll be able to adjust your approach and make sure to emphasize the points of your business that they find most effective.
How to Continue to Build Your Brand
1. Analyze customer data
Your customers are a resource to you in more ways than just a source of revenue. They can give you invaluable information about your products and services through reviews or their purchase patterns. If you look at the way they tend to shop, what they tend to buy, and how they engage with your brand, you’ll be able to alter your strategies to capitalize on that information and meet the needs of your clients more effectively.
2. Continue to develop your story.
Building your company brand isn’t a one and done project. Your company branding strategy should be constantly evolving along with your company values, your products and services, and your target audiences. With every advance and modification made to your company, you’ll need to change your brand story accordingly and adjust your sales and marketing alignment as well. It’s an ongoing process that gives you plenty of opportunities to engage with new customers and allow your company to take advantage of new opportunities.
3. Use new platforms.
Just like you don’t want to be the only company still on Facebook while Instagram gets all the attention, you don’t want to miss out on future platforms because your current strategy is still working. Taking advantage of new tools and marketing options as soon as they become available gives you a major opportunity to expand your market before your competitors corner it. Keep your ear to the ground and look for the kinds of tools that will give you an edge for your marketing strategy whether it’s the newest social media platform or a new CRM tool that will give your rapport with customers a boost.
There’s no single answer to the question “how do I build my brand” but there are plenty of ways for you to incorporate brand storytelling into your marketing strategy. By taking these steps and staying aware of how your company might be changing, you’ll be able to set yourself up for major success in the future.
Meet Andrea Lechner-Becker
Andrea Lechner-Becker’s bio reads like someone who filled out a what-should-I-be-when-I-grow-up quiz and decided to try every option. Fueled by endless curiosity, Andrea has never met a problem she didn’t want to solve. This led her to managing sales and marketing at an art gallery, then loyalty and email marketing strategy for an NBA team and arena, then the delivery team at LeadMD, followed by a stint as a novelist and culminating with her current role as CMO of LeadMD. With a decade of experience in dynamic marketing roles, Andrea has had the opportunity to work with the most brilliant marketing minds at the best companies in the world. #hugemarketingdork