By Reva Seth, Senior Advisor
During the season of company and team goal setting, organizations across industries and stages look at what their growth targets will be, and the strategies for getting there. Enter brand narrative.
Growth depends on the ability to get noticed — by customers, investors, partners and talent.
In competitive and crowded marketplaces and in a valuation and investment landscape shaped by economic, social and political change, a brand’s narrative story can be a super-power growth accelerator. That is, if it is created and strategically managed to leverage these trends.
The right brand story seizes the imagination and positions customers and users to want to engage with the offer. Operationally, the brand narrative directly helps build a community of supporters, partners, investors and talent. This is how to establish the market position. It’s how to lay the narrative groundwork with future customers, clients, influencers and potential funders while deepening the relationship with current ones.
For teams looking to leverage their brand to unlock the next level of opportunities, here is the five-part frame they should apply to their growth planning.
1. See brand narrative as a business product
Brand narrative is not a marketing overlay or communications afterthought. It is the foundation for a company’s successful growth strategy. It is best understood as a foundational business product which communicates why your organization does what it does and why stakeholders should care and pay attention. Consider that whether the sales team hits their Q1 key performance indicators or team leads can hire the talent they need in a competitive marketplace, both fundamentally depend on the power and positioning of the company’s brand narrative.
2. Appreciate the need for maintenance
Too few leadership teams understand the importance of regularly revisiting their brand story. They incorrectly see it as a finished product versus an ongoing iterative process. As with any other internal tool or core business program, it needs to be assessed and updated for changing market conditions and internal goals. At a minimum, the team should check in annually to make sure that the messaging and story still correctly positions the business. And that the story and proof points reflect what is happening in their customer and client landscape.
We really love the way Airbnb adjusted to this during and as it recovered from the pandemic.
3. Understand internal application
When brand narrative is mistakenly seen as a marketing tool (versus as being core to the essence of business) it has numerous unintended consequences. Among them is the failure to apply the brand narrative internally. Internally, the brand narrative is both an organizational compass (directly guiding marketing, sales, talent and recruitment among the core business functions) and enables leadership to engage in conversations with multiple stakeholders across ecosystems but always with consistent messaging.
4. Keep to the framework
This is about much more than a press release boilerplate or “About Us” page. It’s about how all your communications — from company narrative to website copy, social media profiles and posts, earned media articles, employee communications and emails to your network — come together to shape customer and market perceptions. The story might change a bit for each audience, but the overarching narrative and messaging shouldn’t.
5. Bring brand story to life in your channel strategy
A powerful brand narrative is the foundation. It is manifested through strategy, experience and storytelling. In an increasingly non-linear and fragmented media landscape, the brands that are the most effective in having their narrative impact their audiences and stakeholders are ones that invest in a multi-channel strategy. They bring narrative to life in campaigns, mini moments, major activations and content across multiple points of influence and the places their audiences are engaging.
We see narrative as the growth accelerator. It’s what wins investor pitches, customers and top talent. No matter the industry, product, customer type, or size, a company’s brand is its single most important asset. Activating and growing it is foundational to businesses achieving their key business targets.
Interested in learning more about how your brand can update or elevate its narrative? We are here to help and would love to hear from you: Reva Seth, Senior Advisor firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep in Touch
Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.