January 5, 2016
I love teaching workshops on content marketing and brand storytelling because there’s such a great opportunity to connect the dots for people.
One of my favorites is when we talk about brand storytelling and how it relates to the content marketing mission statement.
When I explain how this works, I truly feel like a magician revealing the secrets to the world’s most amazing magic trick.
Understanding Brand Story
People confuse a brand story with branding, but they’re different. A brand story is a definitive statement about the difference a brand makes in the lives of their customers.
Here’s some examples:
- To champion positive social change that will enhance the quality of life for all as we age. – AARP
- Empowering students’ success for a better life. – Mentorina
- Helping people be better in the moments that matter. – Motorola Solutions
- Empowering marketers to do their jobs better and with less effort. – Numeric Analytics
- To develop leaders of character dedicated to serving the greater good. – Texas A&M
A brand story shares a unified message about a brand. It articulates what the brand stands for, expresses what the brand believes in, emotionally connects with customers, put audiences in the role of the hero and serves as the “North Star” for everything a does. It sets the stage for voice, tone and style.
As you’ll notice, none of these brand stories talk about what products or services these companies sell. That’s because a brand story is flexible enough to be told in different ways over time.
It’s foundational, and guides everything that’s said – externally and internally – created, developed, sold and delivered by a company. The brand story should be developed alongside the brand platform but few companies create them together, if at all.
Understanding a Content Marketing Mission Statement
The content marketing mission statement is anchored in the brand story. The brand story comes first because it sets the tone for what matters to the brand and what it will focus on as a business. You have to know what matters to you first as a brand before you can define your audience. Once your audience is defined, then you will be able to articulate the value that you deliver to them through content – which is driven by the content marketing mission statement.
Think of it this way…
We all know people whose interests change on a whim depending on what people around them find interesting or say is important. What’s the impression we have about those people? They don’t know themselves. They’re reactive. They’re trying to be the center of attention by saying what people want to hear.
People who know themselves well – from the inside – are people who others want to be around. They know what matters to them. They don’t have the desire to be everywhere all the time. And they don’t need to be popular with everyone.
They know their story.
The same applies to brands. Brands that understand what drives them from the inside don’t try to be everything to everybody and they know not everyone should be a customer.
That’s key, because companies have to know what matters to them first – what their reason for ‘being’ is – before they can deliver value.
In taking the brand story and using it to create a content marketing mission statement, the framework looks like this:
My brand is the destination for [target audience] interested in [topics] to help them [describe customer value].
Here’s an example of a content marketing mission statement in action:
Welcome to Inc.com, the place where entrepreneurs and business owners can find useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration for running and growing their business.
The target audience is entrepreneurs and business owners
The topics that Inc. covers are useful information, advice, insights, resources and inspiration
The value that’s delivered is to help this audience run and grow their business
It’s as simple as that.
How They Work Together
The brand story works as an umbrella for every message that comes from every corner of the enterprise. It drives how companies talk about the value they deliver to customers, what they sell and how they solve problems. It also guides new product development, customer experience, internal culture and employee recruitment. It’s the filter through which all decisions are made.
The content marketing mission statement supports the brand story by getting detailed about what content you will deliver on a regular basis that delivers value to customers.
You can’t have an effective content marketing mission statement without first defining your brand story. And if you don’t have a content marketing mission statement to back up your brand story, then you don’t have a disciplined, consistent and reliable way to add value to your customers.
Photo Credit: Flickr user Matt B
About Carla Johnson
Carla Johnson is a world-renowned storyteller, an entertaining speaker, and a prolific author.
Over the last two decades, Carla has helped architects and actuaries, executives and volunteers, innovators and visionaries leverage the art of storytelling to inspire action. Her work with Fortune 500 brands has served as the foundation for many of her books.
In her latest project, Fast Forward Files, she contributes to a larger collection of thoughts by some of the world’s greatest minds - Shazam co-founder Dhiraj Mukherjee, activist and entrepreneur Heather Mills and behavioral designer, technologist and mental-health champion Peter Trainor. Consistently named one of the top influencers in B2B, digital and content marketing, Carla regularly challenges conventional thinking.
Today, she travels the world teaching anyone (and everyone) how to cultivate idea-driven teams that breed unstoppable creativity and game-changing innovation.