Brand Strategy: Question, Story, AND Dialogue

Our brand strategy should address A. the questions we want to raise in people’s minds, and B. the stories we want to tell them. “Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do. So call this free number to find out how easy it is to train at home for a better career.” It’s such a basic setup, and when it’s done well, it works beautifully. But, the world is changing.

An actor doing an ad on TV doesn’t necessarily drive the same conversation in a call center, let alone on social media. Consumer expectations have evolved – it’s not enough to just raise an interesting question and let the brand’s story do the rest. We have to understand how to engage in an ongoing dialogue with our clients across different mediums.

Who we are and what we do is more than just the singular job-to-be-done. We still need to know and understand what our clients want, but now we also need to plan for how, where, when, and why they want to talk about it. We need a thoughtful and effective tone of voice. We need to know what our brand’s personality is. And, that persona needs to be understood by everyone from the front line employees, to the social media account managers, to the C-suite executives.

The questions we ask, the stories we tell, the feeling of the dialogues we engage in, they have to be part of our brand strategy and culture. Our questions and stories are the start, but dialogue is what transforms the relationship and ensures we make the customer know they’re the hero, we’re just the guide.

Back to the famous Sally Struther’s TV ad quoted above – its brilliant for raising a question, providing an answer in the form of the story, and then presumably, when a customer would call in, finding alignment with something they wanted to achieve that the company could offer. That last step is the 90’s version of dialogue. Today, it could happen on the phone, via email, text, social media, etc. This is why dialogue is such an important aspect of strategy.

Some good news to think about for those just starting out or reshaping a brand: This is going to be hard for a lot of older businesses to figure out let alone execute well on. Personalization and brand differentiation aren’t created on the shelf, they’re created in the experience with the people at the company behind the product. Getting our story and dialogue strategy in place is a competitive advantage. Use it.

This post was inspired by Laura Hinkkanen’s post, “From Storytelling to Dialogue.”

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