How To Know When Your Brand Story Is Boring (And What To Do About It)
We’ve all got that one friend. As soon as I start to describe them, you’ll know who I’m talking about.
Whenever you hang out, it could take half an hour or it could take all day, but they always bring up the same stories. Maybe it’s an embarrassing one from the office holiday party. Or maybe it’s an epic tale of the last sale they made. But you can almost sense when they’re about to launch into their story for the umpteenth time–your cue to smile at them while thinking about what you’ll have for dinner tonight.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re Stephen King or Soul Cycle: all stories have a shelf life. And when yours hits its expiration date, there’s a huge chance your customers, clients, and potential clicks will start to disappear. Fast.
I know, I know. You slaved over that brand story. There were meetings. Charts or vision boards. Focus groups (even if it was your closest friends). It was a huge win for you and your business.
The keyword here is “was.” It’s time to say thanks for the memories and move on. J.K. Rowling once said, “No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” Sure, she was talking about the story of the boy who went to Hogwarts, but the same can be said for a brand story. You need a knockout tale that will make everyone sit up and listen—not an old one making their eyes glaze over.
You could have the most essential product in the world or provide five-star service, but if you haven’t taken the time to click “refresh” on how you’re marketing them, you could be leaving piles of money on the table.
So how do you make what’s old fresh, alluring and new again? Here are three ways to swap a boring story for a breathtaking one that will multiply your sales.
1. Rediscover your radical why: If your brand story is only a year or two old, you may be suffering from a classic case of disconnection. You’ve been so busy scrambling to assemble the right marketing team and pull your accounting act together that you’ve completely forgotten why you’re hustling so hard in the first place.
That hunger and passion that used to propel you out of bed in the morning before your alarm clock even went off is gone because, well, who’s really excited about freaking spreadsheets? Now your cooled jets are dragging behind you while you fumble to your coffee maker and wonder how many days until Friday.
This is the exact time you’ve got to cancel your call with that social media expert and spend time reconnecting with your why. Just keep asking yourself over and over and over why success is important to you. Because you want to be rich? Why? Because you want to be able to support worthy causes? Why? Don’t stop until you get to your passion-drenched, indestructible, undeniable why.
If your brand story is older, it’s probably time to light a match, set it on fire and walk away. Congratulations, you’ve grown. When you first dug deep to find your why it was eons ago. Maybe you’re married now. Or have kids. Or have multiple companies.
Your mind has grown, your values have shifted, and your expertise has broadened. Your why should be different because you’re in a completely different position now. Time to go back to the drawing board and sketch out a new one.
By the way, it’s totally normal to disconnect from your why. But you’ll never get ahead until you get your spark back by figuring out why this brand is at the heart of every move you make.
2. Recommit to a totally new vision
Say it with me now: I’m officially done imitating whatever’s coming out of my competitor’s mouth. Ah, doesn’t it feel good to aim one step ahead of them instead? It feels pretty fantastic to your customers, too. They deserve to hear fearlessly bold claims and incredibly inspiring promises from you instead of the same lousy lines everyone else is feeding them.
While your “why” is what fuels you on the inside, your vision determines the direction you take in your business and how you channel your why into actions that transform your audience’s lives.
If you’re scrambling to figure out how to give your brand’s vision an extreme makeover, ask yourself this one question: How can I establish my brand as the one and only brand that can solve my customer’s problems? Your new vision rests in your ability to differentiate yourself from, and as a result completely eliminate, the competition.
3. Show and tell your values
It’s one thing to say that your brand believes in honesty or transparency or human connection, but are you showing it? For example, TOMS has a core value of community that they show by giving away free shoes to kids in need all across the globe. They’re practicing what they preach and then showcasing in a refreshing way.
But most companies are floating by on watered-down core values. One study showed that only 10% of companies have operationalized their values into actionable behaviors that can be taught to their employees and used to hold people accountable. The rest might as well be written on tissue paper. Your ideal clients are going to see right through them.
For example, one of my core values is human connection, but in one of my first courses I decided to go for 100% automation and eliminated any interaction with me. Sure, it saved me time and money, but it ended up being a disastrous move because I was going against my values. When you unequivocally commit to a core value you believe in, it’ll be a beacon that draws people to you forever.
Remember that your brand story is what gives your business a soul. You can use all the strategies in the world to grow your business and make lots of money, but in the end, what does it matter if it’s making you miserable or if it’s replaceable as soon as the next bigger and better thing comes along?
Strive to turn your brand into a legacy, and you’ll see that your sales will increase, your visibility in your industry will skyrocket, and your audience will grow. Most importantly, you’ll feel connected to your why, your vision, and values, and know that everything you’d built came from the heart and served a purpose on this planet. And that… is priceless.
Originally published in Forbes.