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What is a "brand story" anyway?

Building your brand storyNow that content marketing represents a core component of your brand’s digital marketing strategy, it’s become increasingly important for you to tell a compelling brand story. Of course, the idea of telling a compelling brand story is great. But, what does it mean?

Actually, it’s pretty simple.

A compelling brand story at its most basic communicates two ideas:

  1. Your Values
  2. Your Value

And, no, that’s not a typo. Your values and your value represent two different concepts.

Values and your brand story

First, “Your Values” speak to what your brand stands for, what matters to you, why you exist. It helps explain who you are. For example, my blog’s “About” page outlines my values, those concepts most important to me. Like any discussion of values, it helps potential customers understand what I’m all about and helps them say, “I get this guy. The things that matter to me also matter to him.”

Or not, as the case my be. Which is OK. There’s nothing wrong with letting customers know what you stand for, even when it costs you potential customers.

Why? Well, as anyone who deals with customers regularly can tell you, the worst customer interactions tend to occur between people who value different things. For the clearest example, picture a scenario where you place “integrity” above all else and have to work with a customer who is willing to, ahem, fudge the rules a little bit. As you can easily imagine, it’s a recipe for disaster. Make your values clear throughout your brand story and expect to attract customers who value the same things you do.

Value and your brand story

If the values component of your brand story is all about you, the second item, “Your Value,” is all about your customer. The “value” portion of your brand story helps customers answer the eternal question, “What’s in it for me?”

No matter how well you align with customers on your core values, they still want to understand how they benefit directly from working with you. And, sad as it may be, just about no one will ever choose your products or services just because you have some common values if they don’t also benefit from those products and services directly (let’s face it, your mom probably would… but that’s not a winning long-term strategy).

For example, Zipcar, the successful auto-sharing/rental program, originally focused its efforts entirely on appealing to consumers concerns for the environment. Um… yeah. That worked. It was only when the company put increased emphasis on the service’s convenience and low cost that the business took hold in their customers’ minds and wallets. That’s not to say you can’t appeal to your customers’ better nature (I’m not that cynical). I’m merely suggesting that if your only appeal is to that better nature, you better find a better value proposition.


There are a few more steps to creating a compelling brand story than simply listing your values and your value. And we’ll look at those steps in more detail over the next few days. But you can get started with just a list and build on it over time. Understanding what matters to you and why you matter to your customers are the foundation on which you’ll build a compelling brand story.

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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