Story is often a metaphor for branding. This concept normally makes people think of telling a story about their company or products.
I encourage you to think in a different way.
Before thinking of the story you want to tell your customers, think of the story you would like them to have in their minds. If your customers were thinking of you, or speaking of you, what story would they be telling?
At Yastrow and Company, our brand strategy development projects always include creating a “brand story” for our clients. These brand stories are written in the voice of the customer, summarizing what we want customers to think and believe.
How the Brand Pyramid Helps you Craft Your Story
One of the important tools we developed for creating these stories is called a “Brand Pyramid.” It looks like this:
The Brand Pyramid is designed to help you zero in on the language you would like your customers to use in their mental stories about you. Here’s how you can use it in a brainstorming session with your team.
Who are you?
On the bottom level of the Brand Pyramid, list the nouns and adjectives you would like your customers to use to describe who you are.
- Imagine a loyal, committed customer telling a customer who you are; what would you like them to say?
- As an example, imagine that one of the things you wrote in this level was “expert advisors.” We’ll refer to this example below.
What do you do?
On the middle level of the Brand Pyramid write the verbs you would like your customers to use to describe what you do.
- Notice that the second level of the pyramid leads directly from the bottom level. For example, if you had written “expert advisors” on the first level, imagine that one of the verb phrases you wrote was “create personalized solutions.” Being expert advisors makes it possible for you to create breakthrough ideas.
What impact do you have on me?
We’ve reached the top of the Brand Pyramid. This is where you define the positive impacts you seek to have on your customers. In other words, why are they better off because of you?
- Building on the examples above, you may desire that your customers believe you are “expert advisors who create personalized solutions, and because of that my business is more successful.”
Using these elements of the Brand Pyramid, you are ready to write a rich, compelling story of what you want customers to believe about your brand.
Here are some tips for using the Brand Pyramid to craft the stories you want customers to have in their minds as they think of you:
- Always write in the customer’s voice, using the first person.
- Write a lot! … and then edit later.
- Get actual data. Have a neutral third party ask your most loyal customers what they think of you, taking notes. Go through the notes and highlight the relevant words and phrases that fit into each level of the Brand Pyramid.
As you work with the Brand Pyramid, turn the words and phrases into sentences and short paragraphs written in the voice of the customer. As you write, you will begin to create a much clearer idea of the stories you want customers to have in their minds as they think of you.
As you climb to the top of the Brand Pyramid and explore how you want customers thinking about the impact you have on them, you be ready to start crafting marketing and sales communications. With the goal of encouraging customers to create this mental story, these communications are bound to be more effective.