April 12, 2022

Developing Your Business Plan and Building Brand Awareness

How would you describe your brand or company? What makes you unique? Why should investors invest in your company?

Your brand is the face of your company. It represents who you are and what you stand for. It’s also the way potential customers see you. If your brand isn’t strong enough, it will be difficult to build trust and confidence from both customers and investors.

A well-developed brand strategy helps companies build their brands and increase sales. In order to develop a successful brand strategy, you need to answer these questions: Who are you? What do you want to achieve? And why should anyone care?

We'll answer those questions and others in this post while helping you understand your own story, how to create arc brand ideas, build brand awareness, and how to pull it all together to set yourself up for success.

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Before we dive into the topic, you must get comfortable with being uncomfortable. For many people, developing a voice for your brand, brand storytelling, and building brand awareness can feel like an overwhelming task. You may not know where to start or have any idea what you're doing. We've compiled some top tips to help you get started on your journey.

1. Commit to consistency.

First, commit to consistency. Consistent interaction builds success and, without it, you're never going to gain traction. Your brand needs to be consistent across every channel—from social media to email marketing to website design. As much as possible, try to avoid having different voices representing your brand.

2. Start with the basics.

Before you jump headlong into telling your brand story near and far, you need to nail down the basics. What does that mean, though?

If you're new to branding, it's a good idea to focus on one aspect of your brand—like your logo design, website, social media presence, etc.—and ensure your foundational branding elements are working properly before moving on to the next step. This will allow you to avoid spending too much time on something that's already broken.

3. Use data.

Data is king when it comes to understanding your audience and creating content that resonates. Data is also extremely helpful when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of your efforts. The more data you collect about your target audience, the better able you'll be to create relevant content that connects with them.

4. Focus on your audience.

The most important thing to remember when developing your brand identity is that you're trying to connect with your ideal customer. By focusing on your audience, you'll be able to craft messaging that speaks directly to them.

5. Ask yourself "why."

The best brands ask themselves “Why?” They don't just assume they know what their audiences want; instead, they dig deep to find out. When you ask yourself “Why?“, you'll be able to identify your core values, which will help you shape your brand message.

6. Make your vision statement part of your storytelling.

Telling a compelling story requires knowing where you're starting from and where you want to go. Your vision statement can help here. A vision statement is an overview of who you want to become as a company. Then, it's just a summary of how you want to grow over time.

Write down your vision statement and ensure that it is very clear and concise. Limit yourself to just three sentences, and make sure that they're enough to motivate you to get out there and grow your business for years to come.

Story Marketing Step 1: Creating a Story Arc

Let's talk about your brand's story. Every strong brand has one. Look at Apple or Nike or Uber, or any successful brand. What's yours? It's important to create and use a story arc both internally and externally. This will form not just the idea of your brand in your investors' minds, but also in your team members' minds. Not sure how to create a story arc? Here's a quick breakdown from Masterclass:

  • Introduction – This is the exposition, which introduces the story elements.
  • Rising Action – No story is compelling without action and conflict.
  • Falling Action – The action begins to ebb, and conflicts give way to resolution.
  • Resolution – This is the conclusion of the story.

You see those four elements in every story out there, whether you're reading a bestselling novel or watching a video on TikTok.

Story Marketing Step 2: Develop a Voice for Your Brand

How do you use brand storytelling in your business, though? Let's break things one at a time:

  • First, think about where you have been. This is your introduction.
  • Next, think about where you are now and where you want to go. What are the challenges? This is your rising action.
  • Third, think about the things you've overcome and how that has transformed your business. That's your falling action.
  • Finally, where do you want your business to go? What do you want it to represent to your team? To your investors? To your ultimate customers? That's your conclusion.

Let's look at an example. The chances are good that you're at least familiar with some of those home rehab shows that are so popular. Each episode contains its own story arc. To help build familiarity, we'll illustrate how those arcs break down:

  • Introduction: First, we meet the homeowners. We learn about their backstory and what they want for their home. We also meet the rehab team and learn a bit about them.
  • Rising Action: The rising action is when the work begins. Everyone's excited, and the energy is high. We sketch out what we want and maybe start tearing out old fixtures. Conflicts begin to be introduced here, too – maybe they're over budget, or they can't get the tile they want, or one of the workers quits right in the middle of the project.
  • Falling Action: There's a breakthrough that solves the conflict and allows the rehabbers to keep moving forward. For instance, they find a replacement for the worker or find an alternative type of tile.
  • Conclusion: The home's revealed to its owners, who are almost invariably delighted. Roll credits.

There you go – the show concludes, everyone's happy, and the house looks beautiful. This is the type of brand storytelling that you need to think about and engage in all the time. Even if it's just a one-minute TikTok video, you need that story arc in place.

Use the framework above to begin creating your brand story and develop a voice for your brand. Who are you? A strappy upstart ready to take on the heavy-hitters in your industry? An underdog with a vision of a better future for everyone? A tech-forward startup intent on dominating the industry? Define your story and then find ways to tell it internally and externally. Use this to help you figure out what your content will be and what your pitch is going forward.

How to Build Online Brand Awareness: Consistency Is Key

We touched on consistency previously, but we're going to double down here. By this point, you should have a focused, clear vision when speaking to someone through their inbox or via social media. Stick to that brand story and voice. Be consistent.

The single largest mistake that people make when they start raising capital is that they're just not consistent, and that shows in several different ways:

  • They're not consistent in the amount of time or the frequency in which they tell the story.
  • They're not consistent in the story they tell.
  • They're not consistent in providing content through email and social media.
  • They're not consistent in telling their stories in specific ways.

Most platforms have specific focuses or purposes. TikTok is all about short-form video content. Instagram is about photos. LinkedIn is about professional networking. Twitter is about sharing thoughts and opinions. Facebook is about connecting with friends and family. All of these platforms have their strengths and weaknesses. But if you don't know how to use each platform effectively, you'll never build a strong online presence.

So, how do you choose where to focus your efforts? It depends on your goals. If you're looking to raise money from VCs, you'll likely want to focus most of your attention on those channels. If you're looking for customers, you'll want to focus more on customer acquisition methods like advertising and marketing. If you're trying to grow your company organically, you might want to focus on building a community around your brand.

Overcoming Challenges in Brand Story Telling

While the framework and methodology we discussed will help you build your brand and connect with your audience, most people encounter a few challenges. One of the most common is that "no one wants to hear my story."

If you've been working hard to create a compelling brand story, you may feel as though no one cares about it. You may even feel that no one wants to hear your story. That couldn't be further from the truth - the reality is that many people care deeply about your message. They simply aren't hearing it yet.

It's important to understand that there are two types of people who will respond to your brand story. There are the ones who are willing to listen and the ones who won't.

The first group includes people who already agree with you. These are your current fans and followers. They already believe in your mission and vision and trust you because you've earned their respect over time. They also appreciate your honesty and transparency, so when you share information about what you're doing and why you're doing it, they get excited. They love seeing new updates and learning more about your progress.

The second group includes people who don't necessarily agree with you. This group includes potential customers and influencers. They may not fully understand why you're doing what you're doing, but likely still want to learn more about you. So, when you start talking about your brand, make sure you include some details about your "why" - which is, why you're doing what you're doing. Share stories about how you built your brand and why you decided to pursue this particular path.

It's Rarely About Returns

As a final note, remember that your story is rarely about returns. Yes, that's what investors want from you, but it's not what they want from your story. Instead, they want that human element – who are you? Where have you been? What are you doing now, and what will you do in the future?

While returns are great, they don't make for good storytelling. Cash in on the human angle, and your story will be much more compelling.

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