What is a core story?
If your communication doesn’t match up with your brand values, your stakeholders will not understand your brand’s offering, and there will be a gap between your brand’s external image and your company’s internal identity. Using a core story is a strategic way of aligning your communication to create a consistent message about your brand.
Your core story is your central brand message and the basis of all your communication. The aim of using a core brand story is to close any gap there might be between your brand’s external image and your company’s internal identity and ultimately building your brand’s value. The story should be relevant and appealing to all of your stakeholders, so they are drawn to it and want to connect with you, your brand and your company.
What are the benefits of using a core story to communicate your brand values?
The benefits of using a core brand story include:
– A platform for basing the rest of your storytelling (and other) communication on, resulting in consistent communication of brand values
– An easy and efficient way of communicating your brand values and your company’s mission and vision
– Stakeholders easily understanding and becoming drawn to connect with your brand values and company
– A way of aligning, enhancing and communicating your marketing and communication strategy
– A way of differentiating your brand and business and standing out from the competition
– A way of engaging your stakeholders in the brand story, resulting in more positive psychological co-creation and word of mouth
Where do you “find” your core story?
The most important criteria for your core brand story is that it must be authentic – either based on an authentic personal story (like what motivated you to start your own company), or an authentic problem (like using fictional characters to illustrate the problem you are solving through your services). A good start on a core brand story for a small company or solopreneur is why you got started in the first place, what your values are and what your mission is with your company – basically your about page on your website.
However, for bigger and/or older companies, more people have had an influence on the brand and have helped co-create the brand through interacting with it. Therefore, the bigger the company, the more stakeholders you want to involve before creating your story. Consumers, customers, employees and others can be involved in creating the story. Through listening to these stakeholder groups’ stories about their experiences with the brand (for example customer reviews), you can create an authentic co-created story that includes the internal culture and external experiences with the brand. Involving a lot of stakeholders in creating your core brand story will also be effective in lessening the gaps in external image and internal identity.
How do you use your core story to communicate your brand values?
Think of your core story as a way to direct the rest of your communication. The articles you retweet on Twitter, share on Facebook or LinkedIn are more valuable to your brand if they have something in common with it (making retweeting web design articles more valuable if you are a web designer). The blogposts you create should establish you as a form of expert in your field of service, in turn making your brand and service more valuable and attractive. Your goal should be to communicate valuable, meaningful and interesting messages about your brand, that your stakeholders can connect with. Basically, before communicating with your stakeholders, you want to make sure that your message is consistent with your story and brand values, so as not to confuse your stakeholders about your brand.
By the way
Fog, Budtz and Yakaboylu (2004) have written a whole book (Storytelling – Branding in Practice) about how to find and use your core brand story, written for larger companies.