What do you do when perception and reality do not match? And especially when that gap may be needlessly damaging your brand? You need a Brand Story. The client is always the expert but sometimes it takes an outsider to cut through the flim flam, the politics and the subjectivity to help identify and express the most bold and true things a client can say about their brand, in a way that is relevant to its customers. An outsider can also be helpful in resolving internal disagreements about what can and should be said, to best effect.
So what is a Brand Story?
- It tells the truth about who you are, where you are positioned and how you uniquely meet your customer’s needs. This is the result of several meetings /workshops to explore every nuance and ensure that the final version captures your brand personality and expresses your brand truths.
- The document is underpinned by all the smaller stories that support these overarching narratives.
- Tone of voice is an important part of the process, ensuring the style of your copy expresses the feel and style of the brand and connects with the target audience.
- Altogether, this brand language forms a strong and trustworthy foundation for all your copy, online and offline. It keeps all communications consistent – no matter how many authors are involved.
By disseminating your brand’s true messages through all your marketing communications, you CAN strategically change internal and external perceptions of your brand to align them with the truth. This change takes time. It doesn’t replace tactical marketing campaigns, instead your brand story infuses everything you do.
So far, I’ve written Brand Stories for companies and organisations in several sectors: hi-tech; leadership development; design; and higher education. In 2011 I wrote the Brand Story, website and the corporate ‘We Are‘ brochure for The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I am grateful that they recommended me to Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance in London to work with them in a similar way, in 2012.
After discussions with the client about what they needed, I ran initial workshops with their executive team to work out the key parts of the Trinity Laban Brand Story. Several weeks later, we invited the heads of departments across the Music and Dance schools to another workshop. The purpose was to finely tune messages and contribute anything we had missed. They felt both the process and result were very positive and effective.
As well as capturing and writing Trinity Laban’s story, I also wrote the copy for some tactical web pages for the postgraduate Dance courses. These also acted as copy writing style setters for the rest of the website. You can see one example below. The webcopy weaves in the sense of a brand promise with the information we needed to convey at every point. Thanks to the clarity and confidence in their overarching messages, each web page contributes to building understanding of why Trinity Laban is distinctive and unique, pulling in the particular kind of prime candidate that this Conservatoire wants to attract.
There were a couple of memorable personal moments for me, outside of the workshop times. One was sitting on the grass in Greenwich, the tips of boats drifting past on the Thames, all the Georgian windows sash and case windows wide open in the summer heat. From a dozen or so practise rooms I heard simultaneously the sounds of trombones, pianos, trumpets, flutes, oboes, cellos, violins, heaven knows what else and opera singers. It was fabulous.
Another such moment was walking up to the Trinity Dance building on another summer’s day. On the grass students were sitting in incredibly bendy ways as well as practising dance moves.
Organisations such as these are heartfelt and brilliant. I love giving them a voice, helping them to distill who they are into words.