Author Seth Godin once said that “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make but about the stories you tell”.
Godin recognised that there had been a trend shift in the marketing world in response to a change in what was important to audiences. What a company was selling didn’t matter as much anymore. The thing that was important to consumers was the story behind why the company was selling it.
He went on to say that “a great story is true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. Consumers are too good at sniffing out inconsistencies for a marketer to get away with a story that’s just slapped on”. Godin knew that audiences were too well informed, too passionate about these stories, and that they could easily recognise when a brand is faking it.
To be able to tell an authentic brand story that connects with your audience, you need to begin with your core brand values.
Communicating your core brand values
Core brand values are the qualities and virtues that you care most deeply about. They form the essence of your company culture. Your core brand values feed into a lot of the business decisions you make, they’ll dictate who you do business with, who you choose to partner with, and who you recruit.
By communicating your core brand values to your audience and educating them on what you stand for as a brand, you’ll attract customers and clients that share your values and beliefs.
So how does this relate to brand messaging? Or perhaps more importantly, what is brand messaging?
Tech start-up brand messaging
Tech startup brand messaging is the underlying value proposition conveyed and language used when promoting your tech startup. It’s how consumers relate to your brand. With a unique core message and tone of voice, companies are able to define a specific way of conveying their ideas and messages to their audience.
To make sure you’re communicating your values in a way that will achieve your desired results, there are a few rules that your brand messaging should follow:
- Be authentic: Remember that consumers will always know whether you’re genuine in your beliefs and your values. Don’t put yourself in a position where they can catch you in a lie. Just be genuine and speak from the heart.
- Be accountable: Don’t be flimsy with your morals. Consumers should be able to depend on you to uphold the values that you share with them.
- Be applying: Don’t leave your brand messaging sitting on a shelf, so to speak. Let it inform your recruitment and your performance measuring.
There’s another rule but I think it deserves its own paragraph: be distinctive.
There are so many tech start-ups and they’ve all got a story. If you want to break through the noise and really make an impact, you can’t just talk about the same thing that everyone else always talks about. Honesty, reliability, integrity, respect, they’re all important values no doubt, but they aren’t unique. In fact, they’re pretty much a given. Really dig deep and work out what’s important to you, and present it in a way that avoids all of these cliche buzzwords.
Brand tone: finding your unique voice
Brand tone is something that’s easy to forget when you’re writing any kind of content. It’s not something you really notice when you read another companies content, and that’s sort of the point. Your tone of voice subconsciously communicates your brand through your choice of language. think about it, your local nail salon will use a very different language in their promotional materials than an organisation like JPMorgan Chase.
The tone you pick will depend on a variety of factors, including your industry, whether you’re B2B or B2C, and the subject matter that you’re writing about, but it should always reflect your company culture and be in line with your overall brand messaging.
Let’s take a look at this in practice with an example- Apple vs Dell.
Apple is a B2C company that believes in helping their customers unleash their creative potential, so they use a confident, passionate, intimate tone when they’re communicating with their audience.
Dell, on the other hand, are a B2B company, and they like to let their technical specifications do the talking for them, so they adopt a much more candid, concise and professional tone.
Storytelling is so important for branding, I can’t really overstate it. It’s your path into the hearts and minds of your audience, so before you go, I want to leave you with the last few pieces of advice to make sure your brand messaging is the best it can be:
Make sure your story is framed inclusively. There needs to be an aspect to it that your audience identifies with, otherwise they can’t get invested your story. All the best stories throughout history: The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, Star Wars, they’re all great because we as the audience can empathise with the characters and the situations that are presented to us. Odysseus just wanted to go home, Romeo just wanted to be with the person that he loved, and Luke Skywalker just wanted to be a Jedi, and who doesn’t want that!?
Something else to consider: people love to root for an underdog (Leicester City anyone?), so playing on your position as a startup to play to people’s emotions isn’t a bad idea.
Finally, remember that good stories are universal. Ultimately we’re emotional beings, and emotions are a powerful tool when it comes to branding and marketing.