Branding Strategy and the Art of Storytelling

Creating Brand Awareness

Recently I attended a business networking breakfast where the guest speaker was a professional “storyteller.” What occurred to me as I was drawn in … listening to his amazing story, is that even with all the years of marketing and business developmentexperience I have and understanding the importance of having a Branding Strategy to create brand awareness, there is still so much more to learn!

Storytelling within the marketing environment is a fairly common approach to developing and communicating a brand. Remember growing up…hearing the traditional nursery rhymes and stories like the “Three Little Pigs” and “Cinderella”. How about “Goldilocks and the Three Bears?” What common theme ran through all of these stories? Was it the battle between good and evil? Who always won? The GOOD guys, right?

Within the AEC environment storytelling is utilized over and over again to communicate that all-important message…”I am the BEST! No one else can bring to the table what I can.” Not only do we integrate our story into the overall corporate culture of our business, but also we weave it into our RFP responses and presentations as we pursue new work.

Brands are built around stories, they identity who we are, where we come from and if formulated correctly, provide insight as to where we are going. A good story has the power to engage…your audience, customers and employees. Just like the old nursery rhymes we all grew up with, a good story carries with it the ability to motivate and take action. So what is YOUR story?

Connect With The Audience

When developing your story, whether it is to present your company to potential clients or to present your approach to a particular project, there are two key concepts to keep in mind.

  1. Keep it real – Sometimes referred to as being transparent or being genuine. Don’t try to embellish the story-line to make it more interesting. You aren’t doing your listeners any favors by stretching the truth or insinuating something that is not there.  Also, don’t compromise your morals because you want to be accepted by the crowd, instead support your opinions without worrying about fitting in or the opinions of others. Remember your audience and target your story to them, not the masses.
  2. Make it relatable – Although stories in general are reflections of past experiences…addressing these life lessons in context with current experiences are what draw the listener in. In business, the purpose of story telling is to either give the listener some insight as to how your firm can meet their future needs, or to take them on a journey into how you would provide a solution for meeting their particular project or service need today.

Understand Your Motivation

When developing your story ask yourself four questions:

  1. Why does my story matter? You may think it matters but does the audience really care? This goes hand and hand with understanding your audience and telling them a story they’d connect with… emotionally. Think about it, the purpose of storytelling in business is to persuade the audience to act…this requires emotion. Therefore, connecting emotionally with the audience with your story is key to success in business.
  2. What’s the point? What’s the purpose of the story? To teach something or to encourage action? Is it to share an experience that changed you or set your firm on it’s current path? This is your focus – you should be able to define this with only a few words.
  3. Why am I telling the story? Again look to the purpose of your story. Is my motivation to draw the audience into why I am the best person for the job, or is it merely to boast about my accomplishments? Content is derived from experience and a willingness to share a life lesson, not to seek attention. So what’s your motivation behind the story?
  4. What does this story say about my firm or me? Does it shed a positive light on my company and myself? Does it give the audience a glimpse into who I am or what my company does? Does the story flow providing a clear path or does it jump around, confusing the listener?

Build The Story

Just like the childhood stories of years ago, your story should be able to sustain the test of time. What I mean by that is that your story should have strong roots… reflective of the core values that you or your company hold true. It should provide direction and insight as to what motivates and drives your existence and…it should provide specific examples in produce or service offerings.

Think about your story as it relates to a tree. The illustration below should help you visualize the storytelling process and how it relates to business and personal story development.

Taking the Story into the 21st Century

One last element to consider while developing your story is to consider the benefits of adding video and interaction to your story. Call it “multimedia” storytelling if you will – here is where characters and stories reach beyond the confines of the written/spoken word into video and the Internet. Here, your story can take on a whole new life and level of participation from your audience. The web is allowing us to immerse ourselves in stories more deeply than ever before.

AEC firms across the country are utilizing video and the Internet to reinforce and back up their branding message. Whether it is through testimonial videos, community awareness documentaries, or social media and  project development blogs and video, AEC firms are bringing their stories to their audiences in this more compelling and engaging manner.

What IS Your Story?

So the question remains…What Is your Story? Does it stand the test of time? Is it big enough and believable enough to influence, persuade and motivate?

Does it invoke passion? People are more likely to buy from someone genuinely passionate about their business – they can pick up the underlying tones…is this a LIFE choice or a JOB choice?

DAVNA’s story is one that has grown and developed over time. The plot remains the same…to assist Architectural, Engineering and Construction companies in opening new doors and finding new work. Our delivery and methodology has evolved to adjust to changing economic and market conditions. If you are struggling to find your place and creating strategic direction, DAVNA can help. Contact us at info@davna.com.

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