strategic storytelling

Brand Story as Differentiation

Cornell University defines brand as “a set of perceptions and images that represent a company, product, or service.“ In a previous blog, we’ve discussed the fact that some people think brand is comprised of a logo. A logo is definitely part of an organization’s brand, but many other factors are also included. This means brand voice, values, differentiators, target audience, positioning, value proposition, and imagery—including logo and typeset.

Bottom line: your brand is your story.

So, how can I make my brand stand out?

Differentiation is how we share our unique value proposition in a way that sets us apart. Leveraging your brand story with potential attributes, benefits, and images that make clients want to buy your product or use your service is important. Your specific value and how your differences bring solutions to your prospective clients will make your offer compelling.

Let’s explore an example of differentiation using Ritz-Carlton. This upscale hotel chain conjures themes of world-class customer service, smartly decorated spaces, and an air of luxury. When discussed at a recent marketing presentation, attendees also used words including “expensive” and “out of my price range.” However, the key differentiation between the Ritz-Carlton and other luxe hotels is the fact that employees are not only allowed—they are encouraged—to do whatever possible to make the guests’ stay the best. This excellent customer experience is what sets the Ritz-Carlton apart globally.

As a boutique marketing firm, we’ve had to further hone in on what our differentiation is. One of our three key offers is something we call “strategic storytelling.” Simply put, this is what we do best. Clients have told us they appreciate how we can quickly understand their businesses and then share their brand stories via the right channels to the target audience.

“We partnered with Shan to revitalize an existing campaign. While I was initially drawn to her branding and knew it would be a great fit for our messaging, I was impressed by her communication skills and quick understanding of my business. I would recommend Shan Bates, LLC to any business with strategic marketing needs.” — Lori Wilkinson, VP, Distinct Benefits and Brown & Brown Insurance of Nevada, Inc.

The Old Adage of WIIFM

We know strategic storytelling is a big part of the value we bring our customers. But you can also use it within your business. How can you leverage this if you’re not a storytelling fantastic? You must be absolutely clear about who you are and why that matters to customers. The concept of WIIFM—or “what’s in it for me”—is very important when you’re messaging your brand. What is the story, and why does it matter for your target audience?

When a prospective customer visits your website, he or she must be able to tell immediately what your business offers and why it’s of value to him or her. If your value proposition is “below the fold” or not apparent at first glance, it’s a missed opportunity to share your brand story. If your social media channels don’t educate about your differentiation, it isn’t an ideal part of a cohesive message.

We can help you take your brand story and strategically share it with the right audience in a way that is meaningful to them. This is what sets us apart; let us help you do the same with your business. It’s a win/win.

The Written Word

Why is writing so important? Like all forms of communication, it is essential for expressing ideas, cultivating creativity, discussing points of view, and reaching common goals. The caveman may have used drawings as a form of language, but the written word did not come into play until roughly 3500 BC in Mesopotamia.

Fast-forward several thousands of years, and the written word has evolved many times over. From Gutenberg’s Bible and Shakespeare’s sonnets to today’s short-form text messages and emojis, the way our words appear on paper—and now screens—has certainly changed! But while the method and language have seen many different iterations, the power behind words is still a fundamental part of humanity.

The Written Word in Business
A friend who is a senior global communications leader once shared a quote her mentor said to her, “Most people are only operating on a C-minus level.”

“Most people are only operating on a C-minus level.”
-Anonymous Mentor

If you’re like me, after you read this, you’ll commiserate and go about your day. But then, this might creep into your thoughts almost daily. You might recall this on your commute to work or while on hold during a call to customer support. Hopefully, you don’t encounter this theory of barely passable performance within your workplace, but I promise you’ll start to think about it.

Which is why it’s crucial to have strong—not just above average—communication skills in your marketing efforts. The cornerstone of any cohesive strategy is good writing. I will repeat: without proper grammar, articulation of key points, compelling narrative, and a direct call to action, any initiative is lacking.

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” 
- Ludwig Wittgenstein

This is the reason that we love the phrase “Strategic Storytelling,” and we’ve written about it in the past. It encompasses the best information presented in the most interesting way to the appropriate audience; it’s the heart and soul to any brand. A client has mentioned several times that she appreciates the way we “get it” so quickly: the information, the story, and the best way to tell it across multiple channels. And the written word—at an A-plus level—is a critical part to high performance.


Get the Write Stuff
There are many solutions to get strong writers on your team—whether it’s scouring journalism graduates as interns, bringing that talent into your group, or partnering with a consultant who specializes in strategic communications. And selfishly, our vote’s on the third option, as that is what we do every single day!

No matter how you fill this void, we think it’s just what is needed to set your message apart from all of the information your clients sift through daily. To learn more about how we can help your written communications perform at an A-plus level, please click below for a free initial session. Now, that’s bringing your A-game!