A lesson on sharing your brand’s story

Show, don’t just tell your audience what you want them to hear

Imagine the impact of bringing your story to life, instead of just telling people what you want them to hear. This is the thought that crosses my mind every time I see brands try to drive their point home by telling their audience about this, that, or the other thing, without actually making an impact or leaving an impression. With the growing number of communications platforms available to us, from media to social and even owned, opportunities to directly engage with your audience are endless (if you have the right mindset).

How you package up the messages makes a difference. It’s one thing to communicate through a press release or blog post, but how do you stand out from an increasingly competitive crowd and show your audience what you bring to the table.

Go beyond the written word: No images, graphics, videos, GIFs, emoticons, infographics, pop-up book, comic strips, or even just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯? Then you’ve missed the boat. People are increasingly visual by nature as a result of the world we live in — mobile-first and socially driven. Even four years ago, the rise of visual social media was top of mind. As Fast Company points out, “Brands that can rock visual media will find themselves market leaders.” So, if we already knew that, why do some brands still struggle to get on board?

Put yourself in their shoes: In a consumer-first environment, it helps to think beyond the brand and understand the impression you make. How are you viewed beyond your product or service, and is it the impression you want to leave? It’s not just about communicating what you offer, it’s about who you are and what you stand for as well these days. How can you tell a great story, if you can’t identify the core values of the business within it.

It’s not all about the big idea: Sometimes the simplest idea can be the most impactful. Creativity can take many forms, and in the communications industry it sometimes gets confused with having to be a big, standout idea. But it doesn’t have to be, you can be creative through the medium you use, variety of platforms you’re on or just by re-thinking how you position the message. Some of the most impactful and thought-provoking campaigns are the ones that stick to the message and tell it like it is.

Going viral shouldn’t be the end goal: There’s no secret formula to creating a viral campaign, it’s easy to see why a video gets millions of views — the audience is interested, wants to watch the video and then share it on. Of course, if there was a secret formula, there would be a very wealthy individual basking in their own genius somewhere. So, failing that genius, what do you actual want to achieve for the business? Will a viral video give you millions of views? Yes. Will you be talked about all over social media? Probably. Will you increase your sales figures? Maybe. But, similar to Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets, just because a bunch of people on the Internet acknowledged you for a brief moment doesn’t mean you’ve won over a brand loyal consumer. It’s got to be about so much more.

The point, if you haven’t already figured it out, is that you need to show your audience what you have to offer. You can’t just throw a bunch of information at them and expect engagement. Even if you can just hold back on issuing a press release every time you want to say something, and instead consider others way to get the message across, you are moving in the right direction. And don’t forget to drop the communications lingo, no one wants to be talked at with acronyms and industry terminology. I’ll leave it to Hugh McLeod who perfectly captures this in his piece below:

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