A story is true. A story is untrue. The stories that we believe are the stories that survive.
Belief then, is everything. And the truth? There is no singular ‘truth’. What we believe to be true, is true, for us. It isn’t necessarily true for everybody else. In fact, a little more respect for each other’s truth and this world would be a happier, healthier, less dangerous, less fearful place.
The ‘truth’ resides in faith. Creating that faith, that belief, in the minds of customers and in the context of business is called ‘Marketing’. Most simply put, Marketing is ‘sales foreplay’. Marketing moulds a ‘truth’ that drives the propensity to buy. It sculpts a truth. Marketing is about telling a story that survives because it is believed.
We are then, all of us in business, ‘story tellers’. We build a virtual bonfire and invite our consumers to sit around the pyre where tell them our story. If the story is good and relevant and interesting, then the people will hang about to hear more. They will join with us, become a part of ‘the tribe’. They will invite their friends and bring them to sit around the fire. The better the story the brighter the flame. So the real job in any business is to throw logs on the fire and make it burn as fiercely as possible.
And that is the most basic insight into all ‘Branding’. In plain speak, a Brand is a promise wrapped by a story. It is not a logo or a name. The name, logo, identity, profile etc. are just vehicles for carrying the promise consistently into the minds of customers and potential customers.
People are interested in ideas and loyal to promises. Not products. Not price points. The market is a competition between these ideas and promises. Good business is all about making and keeping solid promises. Telling good stories that people choose to believe.
It stands to reason then that ‘you don’t control your brand’. No company does. Brands do not exist on Boardroom tables or in Marketing Agencies. Brands only exist in the minds of customers. What the customer believes to be true is true. The best anyone business can do is put up sign posts and point customers in the perceptual direction they want.
It is not a big step to then say; if any aspect of the business, along the whole supply chain, does not live up to and reinforce the brand promise at the heart of the story, the customer loses trust and seeks a more reliable promise elsewhere; the customer looks for a better story.
And so there are only two questions every business needs to answer: What is your Point? Why should anyone Care? The answers provide the building blocks for that business’ story, the promise to be made and then kept.
How? Straightforward. Know what it is you are trying to say. Say it clearly. Do what you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it. Burn so brightly that people can’t help but be attracted to and believe in your light. Amen.
BJ Cunningham is a brand consultant, Visiting Professor and is now helping to grow Turkey’s export market and advising British consumer brands on ‘disintermediation’. To book him or any other speaker for your event contact JLA here.