When you’ve worked with the same brand for a while, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, writing the same things the same way for all your messaging — whether it’s website content or marketing copy. Your brand has a personality, and as a personality, it should be alive and respond to different situations, places, and things.
I know this is hard, especially for large brands with Compliance processes and strict brand style guides. But I’m not talking about changing the brand’s established voice, or expressing a message in a way that’s contrary to brand principles. I’m talking about stretching and growing and evolving the voice, so it’s more present, more surprising and relevant, more real to real people. Most importantly? More EFFECTIVE.
Who’s with me?!
All right. Here’s your brand storytelling exercise:
Imagine your brand is a person. Not the founder, but a person all of its own. Picture this person in detail — gender, height, hairstyle, clothes. Imagine where this person is from, and how s/he grew up.
Ok, got it? Now imagine your brand is remembering a time when s/he was 4 years old (or 12 or 16). It’s a big stand-out memory that might have shaped Brand’s life. Write this story in first person from his/her point of view.
What’s the point?
Imagining your brand as a person with a history gives you context. It helps you “hear” the voice of your brand. You can then reevaluate other types of content with this context and voice in mind, and do a reality check. Would Brand actually say that? Or does it sound stuffy and contrived? Is it trying to sound like something it’s not?
This works not just for writers and content strategists, but also marketing and brand managers who are evaluating and approving content.
Example: Pybop’s Story
Here’s an example with my own brand, Pybop, as the main character.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve narrated the human experience — or my human experience — in my head. I think in sentences that fall into stories that bring up funny backstory and come back to the main point. Then, I want to share them. On paper or at the dinner table, it doesn’t matter.
I love to share a story and watch people’s faces light up and bring up their own stories and then leave, feeling a little lighter. Or with something new to do or try. Some kind of action to take.
When I was 10 or so, I remember often not being able to get to the point before the subject was changed, a new story interjected, a topic shifted, and it was awkward to go back to my story. People were chatting all around me, eating salad and bread, clinking glasses, and I could say, “Right, right, so ANYWAY, the end of the story goes like this.”
But it was too late. That really frustrated me like you wouldn’t believe. But then I realized (much later) two things: 1) It didn’t matter. My audience got enough; it’s OK for them to listen, relate, and move on with a new story or direction even if I wasn’t finished and 2) I should get to the point more quickly.
I’d love to know how this exercise works for you today!