As a founder and entrepreneur, the most important thing is to be able to tell your brand’s startup story. What it is, why it is, and why investors and clients should be interested.
But telling great brand stories is challenging. For one, your audience is busy and distracted. And as an entrepreneur on the hustle, you become busy getting things to work — to the point that you forget why you started in the first place. And let’s not forget that markets are full of information, bright visuals and stories. So how do you set yourself apart?
The good news is that it isn’t rocket science. Hard work, perhaps. But impossible, certainly not. Here the top 6 rules to keep in mind when talking and writing about your new company.
Here are 6 rules for creating a startup story to set you apart
1. Start with what you do.
What do you do, exactly?
Every new company needs to answer this question – and do it quickly and succinctly. Let’s say that every new business is built on an “aha” moment – a great idea that you feel can take the world by storm.
But the immediate next step is to stress test this idea, and figure out whether this big idea will actually survive contact with the real world. This step – known as idea validation – figures out how this idea is useful to customers. How it can solve problems for them, and address their pain points.
Once you validate an idea, keep that validation on hand. It’s part of your brand story. Any conversation that starts with “Our brand/product helps you to…” is a great conversation.
Takeaway: Why is your big idea relevant?
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2. What can you do for me?
Let’s go a bit further. You’ve defined your big idea and have neatly encapsulated it in winning phrases. Perhaps you say, “As a company, we create ideas that…”, or something along those lines.
This is good – but not good enough. Remember that audiences are busy, and inundated with distractions. And have far too much good taste to bother with messaging that doesn’t concern them.
So make your messaging concern them. Flip it around. Instead of saying – “As a company, we…”, try something along the lines of “We help”, “We empower”, or “We create…”.
Takeaway: Make it about your customers first.
3. Be conversational
Talking about your new company needs to be a conversation, not a lecture. So make it conversational.
Just as an example, a Google search for “property manager” turned up this snippet:
“Multimedia marketing of your property is a standard at… In addition to advertising in more traditional ways, such as the local newspaper, we also use multiple low or no cost resources.”
Can you think of any real-world conversation where you could nonchalantly drop this sentence in and still make sense?
But with a little bit of tweaking, you could turn that arcane statement into a genuine conversation starter – such as:
“We want our clients to be able to earn an income from their properties. So we work extra hard to ensure that they don’t lie vacant. We don’t just rely on traditional advertising to attract tenants, but also head online so we can get the message out to the right audience.”
Takeaway: Conversations need a conversational tone of voice. Don’t sound like a robot.
4. Have a bigger story
Great brands always have a bigger story too. This story isn’t just written on a piece of paper. It’s not a pamphlet. Nor is it a brochure. It’s how your stakeholders and audiences think of you. Take a look around. Every successful startup has a story – either written or unwritten – that encompasses what the brand means to its audiences.
If you want to be extremely particular, become a professional presenter. A brand story can bedefined as “a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by your brand (or business, if you prefer).”
So, for instance, the Red Bull story is about giving people wings. The brand affiliates itself with excitement. Coca-Cola seems to be moving away from philosophical happiness to telling refreshing stories about the product itself – the fizziness in the bottle.
Emirates Airlines, meanwhile, is saying “Hello Tomorrow” – giving people less to worry about, and asking them to be optimistic about the future.
The recent cryptocurrency craze is also powered by a story. It’s a story of becoming wealthy for people who are hoping to make a quick buck. For more tech-savvy individuals, it’s also about becoming part of a movement that leaves you independent of central banks and world governments.
Takeaway: Find a bigger picture that gets people excited.
5. Be consistent
Funny story — a company added the word “Blockchain” to its name and saw its share price surge 394%. That’s right – British firm On-line PLC changed its name to On-line Blockchain PLC and watched its shares rocket into the sky.
That’s an example of a changing narrative that worked for a company – at least in the short term.
But in more normal times, repetition and consistency are good. Once you’ve figured out your brand story, make sure that’s the only story people hear – wherever they find you. Remember – repetition is the key to all learning. When people encounter the same message about you more than once, they’ll learn it. They’ll believe.
Takeaway: Find your story. And then make sure you stick to it. Don’t confuse people with variety.
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6. And finally – be memorable.
This bit comes at the very end because it needs all the other points mentioned above to work. If you’re inconsistent, you’re not going to be memorable. If you can’t tell people what you can do for them, they’re not going to remember you.
But once you’ve managed all of that, you can look at other ways to make you memorable. Verbal cues. Visual cues. A clever logo.
I know a café owner and specialty coffee trainer in Dubai. His shtick is plaid. He’s got a different colored plaid shirt for each day of the week. It’s plaid 7 days a week. And that’s memorable. It might make fashion aficionados break out in hives, but it sticks in memory.
Yet being memorable isn’t just about finding a gimmick. It’s also about great experiences. For instance, the coffee guy genuinely does fabulous speciality brews. But it never hurts to boost recall if you can do it in a way that gels with your story.
Takeaway: Once you’ve got the rest nailed down, being memorable doesn’t hurt.
I’m hoping this starter pack of rules will help you nail down a story for your brand in its first 90 days of existence, and amplify it through consistency and repetition. And while consistency is key, there’s zero shame in refining your story based on audience feedback until you get it perfectly right.