The 8 Things You Need to Help Your Brand Tell Its Story the Right Way

November 11, 2018

Branding

If you’re creating content for your brand, whether it’s a fresh blog post or a new sales brochure, you need to communicate in a way that accurately represents your brand and effectively tells your brand story.

But this can be a challenge when you’re working with a large team, especially when those members are siloed. How do you make sure you’re talking about your brand the right way? Who decides what that means? How do you ensure consistency across all of your touchpoints?

How to Help Your Brand Communicate

Many brands have a visual identity established and brand guidelines to help them visually communicate, including logo, colors, typography, and more. But a visual identity is only one part of communication. To tell your brand story (and to do so consistently), you also need the words, brand messaging, and talking points to effectively articulate who you are and what you’re about in everything from site copy to your Twitter bio.

Unfortunately, we find that many brands don’t have these guidelines officially documented in their brand identity. Sometimes it’s because they don’t know what to include; sometimes it’s because they didn’t think about including them at all. Most often it’s a result of brands being relatively young, and not knowing what they don’t know. Either way, these guidelines are crucial.

If you want to help anyone creating content on behalf of your brand feel confident that they’re saying the right thing—and help brand managers get peace of mind—here are eight elements of your brand identity to articulate and document now.

1) Brand Core

Anyone communicating on behalf of your brand should have an intimate understanding of who you are and why you exist. Your brand core is comprised of your brand’s purpose, vision, mission, values.

  • Purpose: Why do we exist?
  • Vision: What future do we want to help create?
  • Mission: How do we create that future?
  • Values: Who are we? How do we work?

Clearly articulating this helps content creators understand what you’re trying to achieve—and spot if you’re going off the mark. (For example, if your mission is to connect community, a divisive blog headline probably doesn’t align with that goal.)

2) Brand Voice

Your brand voice conveys your brand personality. Are you curious and enthusiastic? Elite and sophisticated? Wild and crazy? You have a million opportunities to personalize content with your brand voice (e.g., site CTAs, Instagram captions, etc.). Use any chance you get.

3) Brand Tone

An extension of brand voice, your tone is the general attitude. Are you laid-back and informal? Sarcastic and irreverent? Clearly identify it.  

4) Brand Persona

Not every brand has a persona, but this can be a helpful way to encapsulate what your brand’s general vibe is. It can be helpful to think of your brand persona as a celebrity. For example, you might think of your brand as Bradley Cooper with the wit of Stephen Colbert.

5) Messaging Architecture

Your messaging architecture provides an infrastructure to help you craft copy that reinforces your brand’s goals. It includes your:

  • Value prop: A succinct explanation of both the functional and emotional benefits your product or service provides to customers.
  • Tagline: A phrase that captures your brand’s essence, personality, and positioning, and distinguishes the company from its competitors.
  • Brand stories: Talking points (usually three) to reinforce your value prop. For example, a juice company might use “fresh ingredients,” “healthy recipes,” and “distinct flavors” as their three main brand stories.

As you create content, consider which brand story you’re telling (if you’re telling one at all). At my agency, we only approve content ideas that directly support or relate to our brand stories.

6) Brand Glossary

Every brand is different, and each industry is unique. You may have certain terms to use over others (or certain buzzwords to avoid). A brand glossary can help new content creators make sure they’re using the right words to tell your brand story.

7) Marketing Personas

A huge part of effective communication is knowing not just what you want to say but who you’re speaking to. Customer personas represent the people you’re trying to connect with, detailing their demographic and psychographic info to give you a snapshot of who they are. Personas are especially helpful for content marketing, as they help you tailor and vet your content ideas.

8) Anything Else That Might Help

Your brand guidelines are there to answer any of your team’s questions about communication—and help them avoid major mistakes. Depending on your team’s needs, include any additional info or insights that will empower them. For example, at our agency, we added the following to our guidelines:

  • General dos and don’ts: We outline mistakes to avoid, as well as general writing tips.  
  • Tips for specific use-cases: We include content-specific tips for writing for social, newsletters, website, CTAs, blog posts, etc.

How to Start Documenting

You may or may not have some of this information already, or maybe you know it but don’t have it documented. To make sure it’s properly articulated, assemble your brand team for a general discussion and documentation—and get approval on every element before you distribute to your team. Make sure the guidelines are easily accessible, and assign a point person as a caretaker to ensure that the guidelines are accurate, up to date, and being applied accurately.

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