B2B brand storytelling—creating a compelling, emotion-driven narrative to cultivate trust for your company—works. The evidence is established and overwhelming—B2B buyers are more likely to buy when they have an emotional connection to a brand and they’re willing to pay a higher price. Brand storytelling acknowledges the science that tells us that people feel before they think.
But doing brand storytelling well is hard, ongoing work. To a certain extent, it is a never-ending story—you’re building a relationship with customers and future customers, and you want that relationship to continue for as long as possible.
And this is where a lot of us can get stuck when we think about brand storytelling. It’s tempting to think of it as a one-time activity (a brand refresh) or a campaign (until we get some new customers). But it’s not. Brand storytelling must be continual.
It must be consistent.
The marketplace will never tell you it wants consistency, but it does. It wants you to be always on, entertaining or enlightening them around the clock and across the calendar. Being able to count on you to give them what they need when they want it builds their trust in your brand.
Perhaps an obvious disclosure: We’ve struggled with this ourselves. But we’ve recognized the problem, we’re working on it—and we’re committed to doing so for the rest of time.
This post is not about creating a compelling brand story, it’s about making the commitment and creating the structure to get the most value from your brand story—a framework for creating consistency with your brand storytelling.
Consistency of Messaging
Having a consistent message requires taking the time to build the best brand story for your company. When you spend the time and effort to do this, it becomes much more likely that your message will resonate with your audience.
But, of course, it takes time to sink in.
More time than you think.
If you switch messaging every six months, you’re not giving it enough chance to sink in, and you’ll keep spinning your wheels. This naturally demands that you create the brand messaging with some rigor; a half-assed attempt at defining your message will need to be changed a few months down the road, because you most likely will not have nailed it. So spend some time on this, get it right and then keep hammering it home.
The foundation of this exercise is understanding who you are and what you stand for. This is the bedrock of your organization; it should never change—you might change the wording a bit and come up with new campaign ideas as the world and your company evolve, but you need to have a deep understanding of who you are.
Consistency Over Time
It’s very common for companies to go chasing different marketing channels.
If you try to be everywhere all at once, you’re going to diffuse your efforts, make yourself crazy and the audience won’t be able to reliably find you. Focus on one or two channels, do them great, and stick with them. When you get to a certain point, you might be ready to add a new channel.
As they say, 90 percent of success is showing up. So show up consistently in the same place. This raises the likelihood that your future customers (creatures of habit) will make a habit of consuming your content, because they’ll go to the same place on a consistent basis, and they’ll find you there.
Ways to make this happen
- Spend rigorous time upfront to make sure your story is true to who you are and sustainable
- Get buy-in from key personnel in your organization, and make sure they are committed for the long haul
- Create a calendar of posts that extends out at least one quarter
- When it comes to distribution, don’t try to be everywhere all at once; start with a narrow focus on specific channels
Consistency of Cadence
Find the right rhythm for publishing and posting, and stick to it.
You don’t have to be crazy about it and publish every Tuesday at 2:55 pm, or anything like that. But if you publish blog posts once a week, do it once a week. If you publish three times a day on LinkedIn, stick to it. If you send out an email newsletter twice a month, make sure you’re doing it consistently every two-ish weeks.
We’ve all seen the companies that take six months off from blogging, and then post four times in a week. That’s weird. And ineffective. How is your audience supposed to understand and find that?
Ways to make this happen
- Be as aggressive as possible in terms of quantity of posts, emails, etc., but don’t sacrifice quality
- Build redundancy on the team so you’re not relying on one person
- Treat your own marketing like a paying client. In other words, don’t fall victim to the “cobbler’s children” excuse
Consistency of Tactics
You need to build the foundation first and that requires creating and then meeting your future customers’ expectations. That means training that audience on what they should expect from you.
You can—and should—have some tactical diversity: Blog posts, ebooks, infographics and social posts all complement each other, and you can sprinkle in other content form factors as you go along. But figure out what your bread-and-butter content types will be and what your best delivery channels are.
And then work them.
Ways to make this happen
- Identify tactics that your team is able to repeat fairly easily
- Identify the best channel to reach your audience, and commit to it
- Consider a pilot program as a proof of concept
- Focus on early success
- Identify, track and report on key performance indicators as proof points for key leaders in the organization
Consistency Across Your Team
A consistent brand story requires the alignment and participation of everyone in your organization. This is obvious … but also very difficult to do.
Without full buy-in, your brand message will never reach maximum impact, because inconsistencies will water down the power of the message.
This goes way beyond using the same slogans or logos—it is about delivering a unified, coherent narrative. The brand story can’t be jammed into some dusty corner of your intranet. It needs to be front and center, every day. Your teammates need to see it, feel it and hear it all the time.
It’s marketing’s job to create the internal comms initiative that makes the brand story clear and pervasive to everyone who works there. There should be kickoff events, frequent digital reminders, training sessions and a small portion of every meeting devoted to the brand story.
You must make it easy for all customer-facing people to deliver a consistent brand story. It will benefit them, and your company.
It’s a continual, company-wide effort that requires constant vigilance and commitment, but the payoff—a trustworthy, recognizable brand that resonates with customers—is well worth it.
Ways to make this happen
- A brand story begins internally. This means you must be telling your brand story internally on your intranet, in Slack and in meetings. All the time
- Make sure that all customer-facing team members have easy access to the brand guidelines
- When someone inevitably goes rogue, shut it down fast. You don’t have to be a jerk, but you need everyone to understand this is important
So let’s acknowledge that those growth hackers out there are really peddling scammy get-rich-quick schemes, roll up our sleeves and get to work.