Your brand is your story. Personal or corporate, it encapsulates who you are, what you stand for, your ideas, successes, failures – everything that your audience will know and believe about you. That’s a powerful concept that I’d like to anecdotally explain with my partiality for the theater!
My background in theater has been an integral part of my success as a marketer and has substantially influenced my passion for storytelling. The consistencies found in both worlds are idyllic! Each employs creative use of language and dialogue, visual aesthetic, and showmanship. Conversely, there’s a methodical, quantitative, and deadline-oriented nature in theater and branding as well. Both are essential and one is only strengthened by well-informed and strategic execution of the other.
Considering the similarities, I challenge you to take a theatrical approach to your work! Discover brilliant facets of your brand story by considering the process of an actor:
Who is your character in the story, i.e. who is your brand in the market/industry?
A simple thought, but a necessary step. An actor must evaluate his role within the context of the play. As a brand storyteller, a story must be shaped with a thorough understanding of its role in the marketplace. Knowing where the brand stands amongst competitors, within the entire industry landscape; owning the brand’s strengths and uniqueness. These are the foundations on which a story is built.
Who is your character talking to, i.e. who is your audience?
Must I go on? An actor can have the most evocative performance rehearsed, but if he isn’t in front of the right audience, his message will be lost. (Try performing for a bunch of disinterested college students!) Knowing your target audience is as critical as knowing your brand identity. Who are they; what do they care about; where do they receive their information; what data points best identify them? Answer these questions and see how they shape the story you tell.
What is it you’re trying to communicate, i.e. what do you want your specific audience to hear?
Actors will spend time in the rehearsal process dissecting their script line by line, combing through unfamiliar vocabulary, pronunciation, and even dialect. By looking for the obvious implications of the text, an actor is best prepared to deliver a line with intention and grit. Do this with your brand story by dissecting the core message of your story, no matter how obvious.
What action do you want to be taken, i.e. what do you want your audience to do?
Dig deeper into the text and find more than just the literal implications; find the actions and emotional through lines behind it. Just as an actor derives his purpose with a line, a brand storyteller can derive higher-level objectives of their story. Define not only what the message says, but also what it’s doing; that process will uncover a wealth of insight into how you speak through your brand story to motivate an action.
What is the denouement, i.e. what is the overarching element of your story that ties the smaller details together?
The denouement (dey-noo-mahn) is the falling action of a play, the final minutes that weave the details together and wrap up the story. The denouement prompts the “a-ha!” moment for an audience, bringing each acting choice together to end the play. Brand storytellers embody skills to see the overarching image and big picture of a brand, but also know how to use intricate details to give the brand story complexity, intrigue, and shape. Intricately define your brand within its market; pay attention to the details. Build a story that speaks to the brand’s uniqueness and inherently stands out because of that uniqueness.
Perhaps it’s a little unorthodox, but approaching your brand as a theatrical storyteller could provide inspiration to dig deeper into your brand story. Ask the kind of questions an actor would ask to influence message creation and identify the pieces of your story currently uncovered!