People who create successful business identities are those who understand that behind every brand is a compelling story. Virgin founder Richard Branson says it best: “[e]ntrepreneurs who make a difference are, in fact, professional storytellers.”
In “4 Ways To Integrate the Storyteller’s Art Into Your Business Writing,” I talk about ways that businesses can use storytelling techniques for everything from blog posts to company reports.
Now I want to offer techniques to help you develop what may be the most important document you will write for/about your company: the brand statement.
But you’re skeptical. “Why should I do that?” you ask. “It’s in my head.”
Or you say: “Writing takes time and I hate doing it /have too much to do (fill in your excuse).”
Writing isn’t a chore. It’s a form of thinking that takes a form you can actually see. Looking at your ideas as they emerge onto the screen — or paper, if you’re old school — will make it easier for you to shape what you say until it’s just right.
So relax, have fun and let those creative juices flow.
Step #1: Company narrative (1-2 pages)
Tell your company’s story from the beginning. Use the following questions to help you get started.
- Who are you?
- What interest/passion/pursuit drove you to create your business?
- What does your business do?
- How has that business changed over time?
- Where do you see it going in the future?
As you write, you need to remember that a story is a living thing and not a bloodless recitation of chronologically ordered events.
To animate it, add colorful anecdotes or unusual known facts. Think of yourself you as a guide offering a “magical history tour” of the coolest place you know.
Step #2: Mission statement (1 paragraph)
Your mission statement lays out company goals and the values that underpin what company is and does. It identifies the spiritual core and beating heart of your business.
- On what belief(s) did you found/build your business?
- What does your company value the most and why?
Of course, missions are nothing without the people who inspired them. So another question to ask is: who does your business serve and why?
As you write, allow yourself to be inspired by what you do and your words will bear the mark of that inspiration. This in turn will ground them — and your business — in the authenticity that attracts audiences and ultimately, clients.
Step #3: Purpose statement (1 paragraph)
With business history and mission statements in hand, the next thing you’ll need to do is craft a paragraph that defines the purpose of your company.
This is a place you can show your audience that you understand the needs/desires of your client base.
Some areas to think about as you write could include:
- What matters the most to your target audience/clients?
- What does your company do for the community/communities it serves?
Step #4: Brand story (1 page)
Now you’re ready to merge everything you’ve written into the story of your brand.
- Out of what dream/vision did your brand emerge?
- What does it seek to do/whom does it seek to serve?
- How is that brand evolving?
- What distinguishes it from similar brands?
For the final point above, you may find it useful to list a few adjectives you associate with your brand. Do you own a small business that prides itself on getting to know every client? Think “personal” or “individualized attention.” Are you a successful entrepreneur that thrives on risk-taking? Then think “bold” or “fearlessly innovative.”
Your final product should be succinct, which is why I suggest keeping it to one page. Remember Seth Godin’s advice about the purple cow and focus on details that make your company stand out from similar businesses. Originality — and even quirkiness — is all good. So is a friendly, conversational voice.
Above all, don’t be afraid to let others see through to who you are. Your company brand is ultimately an extension of yourself, and (potential) clients will always want insight into that interesting, driven person behind the curtain.