Distilling Your Brand in 5 Minutes or Less


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Quick: What’s the difference between a company and a brand?

A company is a business organization, while a brand is the gut feeling the public has when they think of a company or product. Walmart and Target are similar companies that are perceived quite differently because of their brand identities.

Creating a company requires paperwork. Creating a brand requires something else entirely.

That something is storytelling.

A marketer must be able to distill the brand’s story, including the problems it solves, the target market it services, and its value proposition, all in a way that is simple, clear, and compelling (and hopefully memorable).

Marketers must be flexible enough to tell this story in a variety of formats depending on the channel used to convey the story (digital or otherwise). But no matter what the format is, there are best practices that always apply.

As finalists in CRM Idol, an annual competition honoring innovative CRM companies, Awareness, Inc. was asked to create a video that tells our brand story that in a creative way. The video would then be voted on by the public. Here are some of the best practices we followed in telling our brand story:

  • Work within constraints – Brand storytelling is usually an open-ended project requiring high levels of creativity. You must establish structure or you will be overwhelmed by options. In the case of CRM Idol, much of the structure was supplied by the competition requirements: we had to create a video that was under five minutes in length, that clearly showed what our company does to an audience that may be largely unfamiliar with Awareness. Creativity was singled out as a very important element in telling the story, so we really tried to take a much different approach than the standard “product demo and company executives” tandem. Those elements are there to a degree, but we went out into left field with them to not only meet the creativity requirement but also as a device to keep the viewer interested.
  • Consider using analogies – If your concept is complex, align it to something that is familiar to your audience. Our Social Marketing Hub is a complex software product with lots of moving parts so we used the more accessible concept of a scientific laboratory to help explain it.
  • Keep it short and sweet – Call out the biggest benefits and explain them succinctly. As in any good elevator pitch, whet your audience’s appetite and leave them interested and wanting more.
  • Utilize the Hero, Villain, Passion triangle – Most stories can be broken down into a Hero, a Villain, and a Passion. The Hero is the protagonist, the Villain opposes or challenges the Hero, and the Passion is the Hero’s motivation to defeat the Villain. In our video, a social marketer (Steve) is the Hero. The Villain is the dissatisfaction of coworkers and colleagues. The Passion is the desire is to be a more productive and effective professional, along with implied perks such as success for the company, praise and professional advancement. Awareness empowers the Hero’s Passion.
  • Be creative – Stand out with your message. Appeal to your audience by your delivery mechanism; strike an emotional chord, don’t be afraid to be funny or maybe even a little controversial. Remember: your goal is to provoke an emotional response.
  • Re-purpose – If you develop content that succinctly conveys your message, find multiple uses for it. Moving forward, use the content in email marketing, videos, white papers, infographics, etc. You may need to tweak it slightly depending on the channel, but think creatively how to keep the momentum going.
  • Share your final product! Tell the world your story (but leave some surprises for them as well). There are a few cameos in our film you may have noticed, but we haven’t touted them yet to allow people to discover them on their own.

The Result

Now that you’ve read some of the strategies we used to meet the CRM Idol challenge, here’s the end result. Enjoy (and see if you can spot the cameos!)

If you enjoyed the video, and wanted to cast a vote for us to bring home the CRM Idol crown, we certainly wouldn’t stop you.

Mike Lewis
Mike is an entrepreneur and marketing executive with a 14-year track record of success as a senior manager at early-stage technology companies. He is currently the vice president of marketing and sales for Awareness Inc., an enterprise social media management platform


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