The Brand Narrative, Best Told by Your Employees and Customers

Liz Presson • 20 August 2013

As one of the most important parts of our business, we hold “brand” tight. But, hold it too tight and it slips away like sand in a clamped hand. While you should concisely shape your brand story, it must be told—not bottled up and saved for only the CEO to tell. Relentless messaging is the mission, but like a delicate dance, the story must be told by many, each time being slightly altered by the narrator like a classic fable that iterates and makes itself relevant again and again over time.

Who should shape the story? And, who are the right narrators to share and reshape it over time?

A good story is passed along, from its originators to narrators. Your brand story should be passed along in the same way—starting with the business owner or CEO moving to employees all the way down to a single customer.

First, the Founder or CEO must carefully craft the story. He or she must build the plot based on one element alone: why. As we’ve heard Simon Sinek put it so simply, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” That’s the premise: why do you do what you do? By providing a why, you give employees a reason to be a part of the business. This helps them formulate the basis of their own story.

Your company story gives employees a guideline for what success looks like. It gives them a way to describe what they’re currently doing, and why they’re doing it. A meaningful brand story creates a specific chain of motivation: The employee knows his or her role on her team, he or she understands their team’s role in the company, and they understand the company’s role in the planet. That unified job-story (best described in a post by James Buckhouse) that can be repeated to co-workers, friends, bosses and let’s not forgot on an employee’s own website, blog, Twitter, Facebook…the list goes on and on.

Personal brands are stronger than company brands.
The strongest influencers in the lives of successful people are mentors. We look to those who are inspiring and more successful to help guide us through our personal and professional endeavors. We each have a set of personal influencers. While brands themselves can be influential, it only makes sense that we can relate more to other humans. We can connect with them emotionally, even if we don’t know them personally. When an employee clearly explains why they work for a company, why they love it and how it’s changing the world, we’re much more moved than a company touting their own mission. Personal brands are stronger than company brands—foster, embrace and utilize the ones your organization has.

We love hearing CEOs, CMOs and VPs – but we trust regular employees more and customers even more.
We expect C-level executives to “buy into” the business. They have a lot at stake. At public companies, we’re even privy to seeing exactly how much they have at stake. Bottom line: we know your executives drink the Kool-Aid, but what about the others? What about the people just like us? Encourage employees and customers talk to the public about your business, they’re the ones that people will listen to and trust.

Do business with the right people.
The best retention (and growth) strategy: do business with people who believe what you believe. If you hire people who believe what you believe, those who buy into why you do what you do, you’ll never have to worry about their iteration of the story. This works the same way for customers. Choose to work with customers who believe what you believe. Work with those who understand the value that your organization brings to the world. When you do business with people who believe what you believe, they’ll stick around—as employees and customers. If, as a company, your living your brand story and working toward the same goal that you share with the world, your customers and employees will not only stay, they’ll become your best advocates. These advocates will work as marketers on your behalf, brining in more people who have similar goals and beliefs.

The Moral of the Story
By hearing your brand story from your employees, customers can make it relevant to themselves. If the “why” is inspiring to them, and it should be if you’re doing business with the right people, they’ll share with others. The story goes on and on.

What’s your brand story? Do your employees buy into it, live it, share it? The way new age workers think, act and feel about their work will increasingly affect your business.

Looking to learn more about how relevant businesses motivate employees and customers? Get in touch with us over at Pursuit.

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