Your Brand Image

Who is setting the narrative?
Do you have a brand? If so, what is it?

You may think your brand is what you say it is. It’s the brand colors you choose, the logo you design, and the promises you make in your direct mail, email, and mobile marketing. Not necessarily!

Your brand is really what your customers think it is. That’s why it’s critical that you control the narrative. If you don’t, the marketplace will. How do you control the narrative? By investing in brand messaging rather than just product marketing. Unlike product marketing, brand marketing isn’t designed to make a direct sale. It’s designed to set the narrative. Often, this requires being a storyteller. For example, a local chocolatier isn’t just a company selling chocolates. It’s a mother-daughter team launching an entrepreneurial venture to share their mutual love of chocolates (and each other) with the local community. That’s a story—that’s a brand.

One current example of a strong brand storyteller is TOMS, the shoe manufacturer that donates a pair of shoes to underprivileged communities for every pair purchased. It has also launched a variety of other initiatives, such as free optical care and clean water. TOMS offers great quality shoes, but it is equally recognized as a strong global citizen. Its ongoing identification with social justice is a story that its customers can rally around. People feel good about purchasing TOMS, and that’s good for business.
TOMS’ success isn’t an accident, and yours doesn’t have to be either. Set the narrative about your brand. Be proactive.

Here are two steps to getting started.
1. Decide what story you want to tell. Whether you are a nonprofit, an IT firm, or a local dentist’s office, you have a story to tell. What is it? That story should be both emotionally engaging and memorable.
2. Go tell it! Use print and email newsletters. Tell stories, not just about products, but about people, initiatives, and the inside scoop. Stay in touch with direct mail on an ongoing basis, not just when you’re selling something. Use digital channels as appropriate, too. Don’t wait for the marketplace to set the narrative. Do it yourself. Invest in brand storytelling. Market you. As your customers become more engaged through your brand story, your profits will follow.