Here we explore the brand narrative as a key element of brand strategy, by explaining what constitutes a brand narrative, demonstrating how it supports the overall brand strategy, and showing the brand scenarios which call for a strong brand narrative.
What is a brand narrative?
A brand narrative is a central building block of a meaningful brand strategy. It is built upon the insights and information gleaned during the kickoff process, with a particular focus on the business-related shifts the brand seeks to make.
A brand narrative contains five elements:
Truths – four to five high-level aspects of your brand that are true and significant.
Promise – a statement of purpose expressed as a promise.
Story – a short narrative that paints a picture of the brand working to its Promise and the impact that has.
Emotional Impact – the distinctive ways the brand strives to make people feel.
External Expression – a marketable concept rooted in the brand shifts and distinguished by the Promise and desired Emotional Impact.
How does a Brand Narrative support your brand strategy?
The Truths point the strategy toward those important factors that should be core to brand storytelling, and helps align the evolution of the organization’s people, processes, and systems to the brand strategy.
The Promise acts as a beacon for the organization and defines the intent with which the brand reaches out to people.
The Story helps those within the organization see how they too can bring the intent of the Promise to life.
The Emotional Intent helps set the mood of the brand and informs how brand behavior needs to evolve to evoke the desired impact.
The External Expression explains to sales and marketing teams the central communications idea, based on the Truths, Promise, Story, and Emotional Impact, that should form all future external communications.
Does your brand need a narrative?
Your brand does if it faces any of these situations:
- Differentiation: Does your brand have a sober, unexciting, or blurry identity in an increasingly competitive and perhaps commoditized market? Are you able to cut through the clutter in ways that matter?
- Growth: Is it getting harder to increase market share, drive sales and improve profit? Are new markets and products growing quickly enough?
- Talent: Is it getting increasingly difficult for your brand to recruit the talent you need? Is your top talent leaving? Are competitor’s hiring the talent you hoped to hire?
- Engagement: Are your employees aligned and heading in the same direction? Is your brand being held back with issues with around collaboration, innovation, and loyalty?
- Complexity: Is your business growing rapidly in both size and scope? Have you just acquired a new company? Do you have disparate product lines and target audiences? Are your brand and workplace behaviors inconsistent and counter-productive?
Of course, a strong narrative will also help your brand, even if it is operating from a position of strength. Successful brands can further establish their preeminence, forge far stronger and harder to break bonds with both customers, prospects and employees, and increase the perceived distance between themselves and their near competitors.
A good brand narrative adds a bright North Star to your brand strategy. It helps you create brand experiences that change the way people feel about your brand based on the emotional rewards of your Promise, and the way you strive to make people feel in every interaction.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco branding agency.