There’s always quite a bit of talk about community and conversations which inevitably turns into a discussion about social media platforms. But these platforms –whether blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest or some other social media sharing tool (Tumblr, I’m looking at you) –are all just vehicles for your brand story. It’s the brand story itself that needs to be genuine, interesting and relevant. Perhaps most importantly, you need to stick to your story.
We like the messages we receive to be consistent – and we have all kinds of sayings when something is inconsistent. You’ll find this is especially true if you speak with a variety of audiences and you your message changes. People might say that you’re “all over the map” or “don’t have your story straight.” If they really don’t like what they’ve heard, they may say you’re “not telling the whole truth,” or worse, that you’re a “flip-flopper.” What’s clear is that a consistent story, well told, is a powerful tool for how a brand (company, product or politician) will be received. As an added bonus, you’ll find that a consistent story is also a sticky story – it stays with your audience and leaves an impression.
When I say “consistent story,” I don’t mean that you will only have a single story that you tell all the time. No, your product story will change as you introduce new products. Your company story will change as you refocus your market strategies. But once you’ve set a direction, your core or central messages must be consistent, reliable and repeatable. And a consistent story doesn’t mean simply saying the same thing over and over again. A consistent story needs to tell the same basic story in a way that allows it to be directly connected with your company and your customers.
Here are a few guidelines that will not only help you develop and deliver more consistent messages, but will also make your messages more powerful and memorable:
Stick to Your Story (and make your story stick)
Make it Simple – Your messages must be simple to say, simple to understand and simple to repeat. Everyone in your organization must be able to repeat the same messages in the same way as you. It’s easier to repeat a message that uses simple themes. The more complex you make your story, the more difficult you make it for your audience to follow and receive your message. Ever listen to a fourth grader tell a story? Enough said.
Make it Bold – Look, if you’re going to tell your company stories, you need to make bold statements. Bold statements become easy to associate with your brand. Consider strong company taglines as an example. Remember the old Apple campaign? Think Different. It’s a perfect tagline for its forward-thinking brand. How consistent would the company’s brand image be if its tagline was We Make the Second or Third Most Popular Computers? Please. “We make widgets” is completely forgettable and is probably not consistent with what your company really does either. Think about your message and say it out loud.
Make it Colorful – There’s no point in telling a boring story. You need to color in the details for your story to stick. Is your story about how your customers love your products? Then describe the way they demonstrate that love. Tell the story of how your customers use your products, where they take them, what they do with them that wasn’t in the instruction manual.
Keep these guidelines in mind when you’re developing your next product launch news release, writing a speech or creating customer communications and you’ll find that there is amazing clarity in consistency. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!