Perfecting Your Startups Brand Strategy - Pt. 3: The Power of Narrative

February 22, 2024
9 min read
Tom Mackay
Written by
Tom Mackay
Perfecting Your Startups Brand Strategy - Pt. 3: The Power of Narrative

Crafting a compelling, effective, and memorable brand strategy is an ongoing quest, without a doubt. Our attempt to illuminate some of the fundamentals of this process, essential for every brand's success, has guided us through the exploration of three distinct blogs.

This speaks clearly about the depth and complexity behind this strategic endeavour. 

We dedicated ample time to meticulously shape these three blogs because we believe that there are courageous, curious, and confident startup founders seeking valuable insights into brand strategies. If you find yourself aspiring to deepen your understanding of the process to apply it to your company, this blog series is tailor-made for you.

Part three is the cherry on top. In this article, we will delve into the radical importance of a content marketing strategy for brand building, the paramount role of digital channels in branding, and how the constant reevaluation and adaptation of your strategy serve as the secret to achieving remarkable results in the long run.

With that being said...

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Perfecting Your Startups Brand Strategy - Pt. 3: The Power of Narrative

Perfecting Your Startups Brand Strategy - Pt. 3: The Power of Narrative

Marketing
.
Startup
.
February 22, 2024
.
7 MIN READ
Perfecting Your Startups Brand Strategy - Pt. 3: The Power of Narrative

In this compelling infographic, Demand Metric reveals that 91% of B2B marketers use content marketing, and 86% also employ this tool in the B2C sector.

If a significant percentage of marketing experts worldwide invest time, creativity, and money into strategic content, what does it say to you?

Yes, it simply works.

In a world where 20% of internet users' online time is spent reading relevant content, and 68% devote time to reading about brands that interest them, crafting a successful content strategy is pivotal for startup founders aiming to build a memorable and impactful brand.

But first things first: storytelling and narrative.

Utilising storytelling in brand content

Throughout our evolutionary journey as Homo sapiens, storytelling has played a pivotal role in our cognitive development. Many of our religions, cultures, and belief systems are rich with myths, legends, fables, and stories. Storytelling has not only influenced the way we think, share, and gather as a society but has also contributed significantly to the development of our human consciousness.

In the business realm, storytelling can be considered the very heartbeat of your content marketing efforts. It possesses the incredible capacity to humanise your startup, foster emotional connections with your target audience, and set you apart as unforgettable and beloved within your developing community.

Numerous examples of exemplary brand storytelling exist—consider Nike, Redbull, or Coca-Cola. But how did these brands achieve such success?


How to craft an engaging narrative

No need to fret; it's not overly complicated. While there are various approaches, such as the Three Act Structure or The Hero’s Journey, we'd like to highlight some commonalities shared by these and other storytelling formulas.

1. Humanise your story

People don’t seek connections with companies; they yearn to be part of a community that shares similar visions and values about the world. Introduce characters representing your audience to awaken empathy, allowing them to see aspects of themselves in these characters.

2. Start from real insights

Identify those common situations that make people say, "Ah, that also happened to me!" Real insight stories from normal life are key assets for crafting a compelling narrative that resonates with your audience.

3. Conflict and Resolution are vital

As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” This applies to stories as well—challenges are the igniting force that allows individuals to become who they're meant to be. Investigate your audience thoroughly to understand the challenges they face, and craft a story that embraces their inner journeys.

4. Your audience is the main character

NEVER your brand, ALWAYS your audience. Your brand can serve as a guide, but your audience is the one eager to journey, have adventures, face challenges, and emerge on the other side with a broader vision of life. Build a story in which they feel included, represented, valued, and inspired.

5. Tension is the pacemaker

In music, tension results from harmonic, rhythmic, dynamic, or melodic elements suggesting an unresolved or impending change, creating a sensation of instability or expectation that ends in resolution.

Applying the right amount of tension in your story will captivate attention and evoke emotional responses, reinforcing your brand positioning.


Content types that elevate brand recognition

Our senses, intricate and finely tuned, enable us to perceive and make sense of the world. However, in today's information-saturated environment, brands face the challenge of finding distinctive ways to use content that not only captures attention but also genuinely resonates with their audience, touching their hearts.

Once your narrative is crystalline, compelling, and meticulously planned, a myriad of avenues await to engage your customers through content production. Here are some highly effective types:

Interactive Visual Content

Harness the power of visuals—infographics, images, and videos—to swiftly communicate with the brain, making it a potent tool for fostering brand recognition.

Educational Content

Craft insightful blog posts, webinars, or e-books that address your audience's pain points, positioning your brand as an authoritative source within your industry.

User-Generated Content (UGC)

Empower your audience to be storytellers by encouraging them to create content that highlights their experiences with your brand, be it through social media campaigns, contests, or reviews.

Podcasts

Create audio content that shares industry insights, interviews, or behind-the-scenes stories, fostering a personal connection between your brand and your audience.

Social Media Posts and Stories

Compose brief, captivating narratives that vanish after a set time, offering real-time communication and dynamically involving your audience in your brand's ongoing journey.

Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)

Design interactive and immersive content, allowing users to explore your products or services in a virtual environment, leaving an indelible mark on your audience's memory.

Email Campaigns with Personalisation

Tailor your email campaigns based on individual preferences, behaviours, or demographics, cultivating a sense of being seen and valued, ultimately fostering trust.

Live Streaming

Platforms provide opportunities to unveil product launches, share behind-the-scenes glimpses, or conduct Q&A sessions. Live streaming creates immediate engagement, bringing your audience closer to your brand in real time.

Measuring the impact of content in 10 steps.

For any startup founder, creating content is vital, but understanding its impact is equally crucial. Here are ten steps to measure how your content influences brand perception:

1. Define Key Metrics

Outline metrics aligned with goals, such as engagement rates, social shares, and conversion rates, using tools like Google Analytics, social media insights, and email analytics.

2. Conduct Brand Sentiment Analysis

Employ social listening tools like Brandwatch, Hootsuite, or Mention to monitor mentions, comments, and sentiment, providing valuable insights into how your audience perceives your brand.

3. UtiliSe Web Analytics

Analyse user behaviour on your website using metrics like time spent, bounce rates, and click-through rates with the help of Google Analytics.

4. Implement Customer Surveys

Develop surveys addressing brand perception and content impact using tools like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to gather direct insights from your audience.

5. Analyse Engagement Metrics

Track social media engagement metrics such as likes, shares, and comments using tools like Buffer and the built-in social media analytics within platforms.

6. Monitor Conversion Rates

Tie content efforts to conversion goals and track contributions to lead generation or sales. Utilise UTM parameters, tracking pixels, and Google Analytics for comprehensive insights.

7. Regularly Evaluate and Adjust

Set up regular content performance reviews and adjust your strategy based on data. Editorial calendars and performance dashboards serve as valuable tools for this purpose.

8. Gather Feedback Directly

Actively seek audience feedback through surveys, comments, or direct messages. Leverage social media listening tools and survey platforms to gain valuable direct insights.

9. Employ A/B Testing

Experiment with content variations using tools like Optimizely to identify what resonates best with your audience.

10. Set Benchmarks and Goals

Establish benchmarks based on historical data or industry standards to measure your progress and set achievable goals for achieving a successful content marketing strategy.

By applying these streamlined steps and utiliisng the mentioned tools, your team can efficiently measure and enhance the impact of their content on brand perception. This iterative approach and an efficient content management system ensure continuous improvement aligned with audience preferences.

The role of digital channels in branding

Establishing a strong digital presence is non-negotiable for startup founders seeking to elevate their brand. A deliberate approach to leveraging digital channels can significantly impact brand awareness, visibility, and engagement. L

Let's explore the pivotal role of digital channels in shaping your brand narrative,

Social Media and Brand Awareness

In the contemporary landscape, the influence of social media on our lives is undeniable. Just sit and observe people in a cafe, and it's likely that many are engrossed in their mobile devices, scrolling through their social media feeds.

Social media platforms serve as the engine of modern digital brand communication. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter offer a dynamic space to showcase your brand personality.

But how can you maximise their potential?

Simply you must:

  1. Understand your client
  2. Get creative
  3. Be consistent

Extend your content strategy framework beyond product promotion. Share stories, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and user-generated content to pique interest. Take Airbnb, for instance; they utilise video content on YouTube & Instagram to narrate stories of unique stays and experiences, fostering a sense of community around the brand.

In simple terms, apply your brand personality thoroughly and communicate like a friend rather than a seller.


The influence of SEO on brand visibility

By now, you've likely heard of SEO, the magical tool that can propel your web content to the first page of organic traffic in Google. However, SEO isn't merely about ranking on search engines; it's a powerful branding tool.

Appearing at the top signifies authority and reliability when users search for a product or service.

Crafting an effective SEO strategy involves considerations like hyperlinks, metadata, backlinks, and bots, to name a few. Our advice is to consult with an SEO research expert unless you have the extensive hours required for such a learning process, which, as a startup founder, you likely don't.

Effective email branding strategies

There's a maxim in the industry that says, "The best marketing doesn't feel like marketing." This principle applies significantly to email marketing.

Email isn't just for newsletters; it's a direct line to your audience. Crafting emails that reflect your brand personality is crucial. TripAdvisor, for instance, excels in email communication by consistently encouraging users to explore new places based on their preferences that they have captured in their CRM.

Useful advice:

  • Personalise your email communication based on user behaviour and preferences.
  • Embrace humorous, bold, and conversational tones.
  • Use colours, fonts, and a tone that strengthens your brand identity.
  • Above all, be consistent, as it reinforces the connection with your audience.

Re-evaluating and adapting your brand strategy

British naturalist Charles Darwin once said: "It's not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change."

Indeed, adaptability is the lifeblood of startup success, and your brand strategy is no exception. To propel a business forward, founders must not only embrace change but actively seek it. Here are some critical components that take part in re-evaluating and adapting your brand strategy so you can transform challenges into opportunities for growth.

1. The need for continuous brand assessment

In the dynamic world of startups, agility is not just an advantage—it's a necessity. Continuous brand assessment is a key practice for founders actively learning the ropes. Here’s how to make it work for you:

  • Lean Market Research: As resources may be limited, adopt a lean approach to market research. Focus on understanding your immediate market, customer feedback, and competitor strategies.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Actively seek feedback from your early adopters. Their insights are not just about your product but can shape your entire brand strategy. Build a brand that resonates with your customers' evolving needs.
  • Metric-Focused Evaluation: Identify key performance metrics that align with your startup goals. Track metrics like user acquisition cost, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction to gauge the effectiveness of your brand strategy.

2. Handling brand crises and setbacks

For early and medium-stage startups, setbacks are part of the growth journey. Learning to navigate them strategically is a skill every founder should hone. Every experienced sailor had to find their way through turbulent seas. Consider these startup-friendly strategies:

  • Transparent Communication: Transparency is your ally throughout your entire business journey. Clearly communicate challenges to your audience, conveying the steps you're taking to address them transmit care and share trust. Honesty and availability are key assets when you’re building your brand reputation. 
  • Agile Problem-Solving: Startups thrive on agility. When setbacks occur, approach problem-solving with an agile mindset. Swiftly adapt your brand strategy, learning from the challenges and optimising for the future.
  • Iterative Learning: Treat setbacks as opportunities for growth and cultivate a culture of continuous improvement within your startup. What didn't work this time can help you adjust your brand strategy and raise it to perfection. 

3. Scaling and evolving your brand as you grow

Scaling a startup involves more than just increasing numbers—it's about evolving your brand in every aspect. Early and medium-stage startup founders can foster growth by taking into consideration these practical steps:

  • Maintain Core Consistency: While scaling, ensure core elements of your brand remain consistent. A cohesive identity aids recognition, even as you expand into new markets or product lines.
  • Flexible Brand Guidelines: Craft brand guidelines that are flexible and scalable. Allow for adaptation while safeguarding essential brand elements. This flexibility will ease your expansion journey.
  • Cultural Connection: Stay culturally relevant as you grow. Understand the cultural nuances of your expanding audience and adapt your brand strategy to foster connection and resonance.
"The beginning is always today." - Mary Shelley.

Today marks the pivotal moment where you seize the opportunity to sculpt and refine your unique brand strategy. It's a harmonious blend of your brand's distinctive traits, the profound desires of your audience, and the cultural context that allows you to forge a profound connection.

In these three blog post series on creating your brand strategy, we provided insights to unravel the intricacies of discovering your brand essence and presenting it to the world.

Feel the confidence that this information will empower you in navigating the beautiful journey of crafting your branding strategy.

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Tom Mackay
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Mackay

Tom is the founder at Lento Agency, mad about branding, a good feed and everything to do with sports. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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