Creating your company’s brand narrative – ep 15

How to create a fundamental piece of your B2B marketing strategy

We totally. 100% believe what’s written in the subtitle: a brand narrative should be a fundamental piece of your messaging strategy and this episode will outline how to create one for your B2B business. A brand narrative impacts at least three areas beyond marketing:

  1. customer success
  2. sales
  3. vision/mission

What?! What’s a brand narrative?

A brand narrative is how your company helps your market achieve transformation. By transformation, we mean: how you take them from a state of lacking, their current state into a state of fulfillment. A brand narrative uses the elements of story to hit on major psychological triggers and to package everything into a story that your prospect can “step into”.

As opposed to using arguments or trying to convince people about the superiority of your product, a comprehensive story actually invites the right prospect into a greater narrative that they identify with; one that they will voluntarily enter into.

There is a massive amount of research around how to create a compelling narrative and we’re tipping our hats to Robert McKee, Don Miller who had the most influence on how we do this for clients.

The framework and the steps

  1. A hero
    The hero of your brand’s story is not your company – and this is where most marketers mess up. Right in the beginning. The hero of your story is the customer. You have to have a deep understanding of their psychology; what keeps them up at night, what is their desired identity and other topics you can dig out with proper buyer persona research.
  2. The hero’s problem
    In order for anything you communicate to have meaning, you have to be solving a big problem. In B2B if your solution is just a “nice-to-have” and not a “must-have” in the eyes of the customer, you’re toast. Focus on both the external problems of the buyer (ie in the case of Slack: “I need an efficient way to communicate”) and internal problems (ie: “I’m fed up with email-overwhelm”).
  3. Guide: in almost every story, the hero meets a guide or a partner who helps her on the journey
    This is where your company shows up – not in the “hero” section. You are the guide, the master who helps the hero (your customer) achieve their goal. The guide has two characteristics: show empathy (ie – articulate the customer’s problem) and display authority.
  4. The plan
    In any great story and in good B2B marketing, the guide (your company) always has a plan: this is your formula, your unique methodology, your platform or SaaS, a molecule, whatever. In Todd Brown’s terminology, it’s the Unique Mechanism – a proven, repeatable process that ensures your customer gets results.
  5. The guide calls the hero to action
    Often, the hero faces challenges in taking the action needed to get the reward, to get to the happy ending. In B2B life, the buyer often has a multitude of reasons to postpone purchase – whether it be stepping outside their comfort zone or dealing with organizational friction – they needed to be prompted the right way. Calling to action means having a set of micro-commitments that the buyer can take, so that the greater commitment of signing a contract is easier.
  6. The happy ending
    Stories often make the “desired outcome” very articulate – so that we crave that happy ending even more, drawing us further into the story and making us more committed. Equally, your messaging needs to articulate and constantly remind the buyer about the great future that awaits them.
  7. What’s at stake
    It’s not only the rainbows and sunshine that need to be addressed in the story, but the reader/your customer needs to understand what’s really at stake. If they don’t take action, there are consequences, and these have to be talked about.

These are the elements of a brandscript. If you do it well and implement it right, your communications will form a narrative in the mind of the prospect and draw them into your story. Executed right, the buyer will be hooked before they ever talk to a sales person. Redesigning messaging around a brand narrative tends to make revenue explode.

If you don’t have a brand narrative, your customer will be drawn into a competitor’s story – and follow their narrative. Good luck trying to reframe a narrative without a story.

(See what we just did in the last two paragraphs?) 🙂

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