Branding
Posted by John Smulo

Storytelling 101: Finding Your Brand’s Purpose, Values, and USP

The best brands stories are from brands that can successfully articulate their purpose, embody their values, and sell their uniqueness. It’s through expression of who they are, what they stand for, and how they are different that they attract new customers and gain brand equity.

Identify Your Brand’s Purpose
To integrate storytelling into your brand’s strategy you must have a clear understanding of your brand’s purpose. A brand purpose is the explanation of why your brand or business exists. Your brand narrative’s foundation is built on what motivates your business to function and how it wants to better improve customer experiences and the standards of your industry.

Brand Example: Chick-fil-A
Chick-fil-A is the largest quick-service chicken restaurant chain in the United States. On their website, they explain their brand purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-Fil-A.”

While working there as a cashier I realized that I was only a small part of a large brand narrative. That narrative was that Chick-fil-A, a restaurant founded on Christian values, must do whatever they can to please customers and serve their God. I was expected to embody that narrative. Every time I got in contact with a customer I was supposed to smile and politely greet them. I was even advised to start conversations with them as I input their orders in the cashier and serve their drinks. My objective was to give them the best customer experience possible.

A lot of the people I worked with were religious Christians themselves. My boss was a son of a preacher, and my supervisor and coworkers were all active members of their local church. We weren’t allowed to swear or use God’s name in vain. On Sundays, the restaurant was closed because the bible called it “the day of rest”. Even though we didn’t operate on Sundays, we were the busiest restaurant in the food court. We easily made up for profits lost.

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Questions to ask yourself:

1. Why does my brand or business exist?
2. What are the ways that my business and employees can embody the brand purpose?
3. How is our purpose affecting our customers and industry?
4. How can I express this in our brand narrative?

Embody Your Brand’s Values
Brand values are a set of principles that businesses use as the standard of operating. They are a code of ethics or attitudes that you want your brand to represent every time it interacts with a customer. They also explain how you positively impact the world and practice social responsibility. Your brand must meet the expectations of these values or else it will be seen as fraudulent. So if you or your team is determining values, please pick the ones that your brand can easily practice.

Brand Example: The Honest Company
The Honest Company is a baby brand co-founded by Hollywood actress, Jessica Alba. The Honesty brand sells baby and kid products that are a safer alternative to other products that have gotten industry approval but are still harmful to kids. On their website they explain their brand values. Here is a breakdown of each one:

Create a Culture of Honesty – They encourage integrity within their employees, customers, and stakeholders.

Make Beauty – They design products that are visually appealing and rich in color.

Outperform – They create products that are not only efficient but exceed customer expectations.

Service Matters – They are serious about giving customers great service. They vow to take responsibility for their mistakes and taking part in open dialogue with customers to find out what they need.

Sustain Life – They create products that don’t have a negative impact on the environment and are harmful to humans.

Be Accessible – They try to make their products as affordable as possible and easily shippable.

Pay it Forward – They are dedicated to fulfilling their social responsibility by partnering with charities, promoting policies that can help protect kids and the environment, and giving their employees paid community service days.

Fun – They want to create the most enjoyable customer and product experiences ever.

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Questions to ask yourself:

1. What are the top 5-10 values that best represent my brand?
2. Can I follow through with their expectations?
3. How can I integrate them into my business operations?
4. How am I using my brand’s values to positively impact the world?
5. How can I use my values to create a great brand story?

Show Off Your Unique Selling Point

What is a unique selling point or proposition (USP)? Entrepreneur.com defined it as, “the factor or consideration presented by a seller as the reason that one product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.” A great USP sets your brand apart from the competition because if it’s one-of-a-kind feature. Pro Tip: Don’t try to be like every other business in your market. Create a different way of selling, operating, and creating so you can be seen as a special brand and not a general one.

Brand Example: Zappos

Zappos is a beloved shoe and clothing online store. Today, customers have an ocean of retailers to choose from when buying the latest shoes, handbags, and clothes. But millions of them decide to buy from Zappos again and again. Why? What makes this retailer stand out from the other online stores selling similar products? It’s their customer service!

Zappos prides itself in its super friendly customer service. In fact, their company phrase is, “powered by service”. They offer free shipping and free return shipping. Their ability to sell themselves as a convenient and friendly online business allows them to build emotional connections and promote loyalty with their customers. On their website they explain their service:

“We believe that the speed at which a customer receives an online purchase plays a very important role in how that customer thinks about shopping online again in the future, so at Zappos.com, we have put a lot of focus on making sure the items get delivered to our customers as quickly as possible. In order to do that, we warehouse everything that we sell, and unlike most other online retailers, we don’t make an item available for sale unless it is physically present in our warehouse.”

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Questions to ask yourself:

1. What makes your brand unique?
2. How can you sell your services or products with this unique feature?
3. Is your USP convincing enough to attract customers?

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