Last month I wrote an article for Insurance Nerds titled Do Your Employees Know Your Story?
The feedback that I got on it was tremendous, and I thought I would follow up this month by providing some advice about how to tell your story creatively.
I believe that every company should do away with a mission and vision statement and tell a creative and authentic brand story in its place. Mission and vision statements, although well intended, agonized over, and laser-focused have a simple flaw. That flaw is that very few people remember them and even fewer people live them.
They are merely words on a page or artwork on a wall that is looked at once and then ignored.
The reason for that is that they are just words or phrases. There is little effort to create real meaning behind them by explaining the “why” behind “what” was written. For this reason, they are not embedded into the psyche of anyone in the company, save a precious few who either created them or feel that they resonate perfectly with their sense of what is right or just.
What if instead, you took the thought process behind the mission and vision statement and developed a story that encapsulated their meaning, flushed out the “why” behind the “what” and resonated with people throughout the organization?
The why is critical to a great brand story. For instance saying that we believe in “superior customer service” as part of our mission or vision statement is nice, but saying “we believe in superior customer service because customers are the life blood of our company and without them we do not exist,” is something completely different.
Allowing people to understand that why, gives them reason to believe in it, support it and live it.
What if you created a story that told people where the company came from, where it is, what it believes in, why it believes what it does, who it serves, why it serves them, and why customers perceive the company as valuable? What if that same story told the direction of the company, what the short and long-term goals of the organization are and how different departments can help to make this long-term vision a success?
That is the essence of a great brand story.
It allows people to understand what is truly important to the organization and have a guiding light as to why the company should make certain decisions and head in a certain direction or why they should not. It gives every employee an understanding of how their individual efforts matter, fits in with a master plan, and how they can grow within that organization. It gives the C-Suite wind in their sails which allows them to chart the course of the organization, because they know that the decisions that they make are congruent with the brand story, and people will accept them and carry them out because they believe in that story.
A great brand story is not just a way to help employees believe in the company, but a way to enable them to be champions of the brand and provide superior brand experience to your true customers. Knowing the brand story enables employees to retell it, in their own way, to those outside the firm that they engage. Whether it is vendors, friends, family or customers, they have a story that they can believe in, support and retell.
For customers, this leads them to have better, more meaningful engagement with the company. By telling customers your story, you give them a reason to understand who you are, what you do and why you do it. It also allows them to understand what they can expect from you and how you can best serve them. This story builds their faith and trust in you and gives them reason to support you.
Focus your story on the hero’s journey concept.
Not sure what I mean by this? Think about the movie Lion King.
It is more about telling people about the journey that you are on than how wonderful you are. Letting people in on the struggles that you have faced, the trials and tribulations, how you overcame them, and the lessons learned along the way is far more powerful and meaningful than “look how wonderful a company we are.”
Customers, both internal and external, want to root for you. They want to be on your side and have reason to support you. You, however, need to give them that chance and bring them along on the journey with you.
Without a brand story, you are just another company out there, competing for the hearts and minds of those you wish to earn the loyalty of and influence. With that brand story, you give people an anchor to hold onto and valuable tool that they can use to be a champion of your brand.