BrandsPeopleStevenson: Check on your brand narrative

A new column and video series by WPP communications designer Javaris Stevenson
Javaris StevensonJanuary 14, 2021

The first rule of thumb of staying connected and knowing that your communication is being well received and invested is to ask the most important question, “what are people saying about us?”

Have you ever found out from another friend that your closest friend doesn’t like you? No brand should have to find out through their competitors or even customers that their brand narrative isn’t working. Now more than ever it’s time to check on your brand narrative.

What is a Brand Narrative?
Brand narratives are used to create and tell stories. It’s what ties consumers and shareholders into an emotional and personal relationship with brands. The more authentic and relatable a brand is, the better. Now is a great time to revisit what your brand narrative is. In light of social issues, economic displacement and the pandemic, product placement ads aren’t moving people to purchase; formulating a brand narrative and building relationships through storytelling is.

The simple definition: 
It’s the personality, the tone of voice and values of your brand. It’s who you are before and after your product offering. At the bare minimum, it is what people are saying about you. When was the last time your communications and marketing team asked, “what are people saying about us?” vs. “what do we want them to say and do we need to say something different?”

Now that we have an understanding of what a brand narrative is let’s discuss the benefits of getting one right.

What Are the Benefits of a Brand Narrative?
With a relatable and consistent brand narrative, employees become your extended face and voice, your stakeholders become promoters, and your consumers become referrers.

Not only will having a brand narrative keep you connected, it helps you determine where to show up, what stories to tell and it enables your teams to create content to support it.

I’ll leave you with some tips to guide you into making your brand narrative stronger. Trust me, you’ll understand in the remainder of this series why it’s important!

Here are some tips to jumpstart your communications plan for a stronger and more relatable brand narrative.

  1. Know your storyline – Why do you exist? How do you want to be received? What do you want people to say about you? What problems are you solving?
  2. Define your audience – This allows you to know what, where and how to post. Remember, your consumers are not your only audience. Consider your employees, the press and other shareholders.
  3. How do you want to be seen? – Visual representation is so important in a society driven by media. To better tell your story consider using photography and cinematography. Make sure it tells a clear narrative that allows people to understand your narrative.
  4. How do you want to be heard? – Verbal representation tells your story without imagery or compliments the visuals in your social posts, employee handbooks, out-of-home ads and other places of media. Copywriting is very important. Come up with some keywords or themes that can constantly be used across different projects.
  5. Where do you want to be found? – Integrated platforms are the best way to use the same information across different media networks. From social media, email, experiences and trade shows, the list goes on. How do you want to reach your audience and how can you be sure that you show up as one brand?
  6. Execute Well
  7. Repeat

Watch episode one of “The Comms Design Fellow,” by Javaris Stevenson:

Javaris Stevenson

Javaris Stevenson is a 16-year-experienced-communications creative who is currently inspiring and managing communication and branding experiences for today's leading companies and marketing agencies. His self-taught career has led him to work with leading commercial brands such as ATT, Samsung, Target, Verizon, NBC, Universal Music Group and top agencies such as Edelman, R/GA, McCann and currently the top holding company, WPP. Communications design, strategy and experiences are at the core of what he do.

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