How to control your brand narrative before someone else does

Over the past couple years (and especially lately) I’ve been sending impassioned emails to someone close to me, explaining in great detail why I believe what I believe.

The topic happens to be politics, but stick with me…I won’t get into that.

The point is, I’m sharing pages-long missives about why would be voting a certain way, and imploring them to explain why they disagree with me.

Mostly, I get single sentence responses amounting to nothing more than “I guess we’ll just disagree.”

Frustrating, sure. But more importantly…

It’s a missed opportunity to connect

As it stands, I don’t know why they feel the way they do.

So, I have zero reason to consider their beliefs. Zero reason to consider their side of the story.

Why? Because they haven’t explained their “why” to me.

Yes, I happen to also be reading Simon Sinek’s Start With Why right now. In it, he explains that you, as a person or brand or company, can explain the what and the how all day long. But unless people know the “why” behind it, they probably won’t care enough to switch brands, try your product, or change their beliefs. (Check out Simon’s TED Talk, too)

Let’s see a Content Marketing Example

Imagine you see messaging from a brand that says one of the following common “marketing” claims:

  • We’re better
  • We’re cheaper
  • We have more features

I bet you gloss right over them because there’s no “why” to support those claims. On they’re own, they carry no meaning. Here’s how we could improve each one:

BETTER: We’re better because we don’t cut corners to save a buck, and we pay our employees a living wage so they can fully enjoy their time away from work, and we’ve modified our manufacturing to be carbon neutral. You can buy from us knowing that your product will last longer, work better and contribute to a better society.

CHEAPER: We’re less expensive not because it’s lower quality, but because we’ve refined our process to eliminate waste and middlemen to bring you the same high quality products as our competitors but at a lower price.

MORE FEATURES: We didn’t just add more features so we had more bullet points on our packaging. We talked to our customers and learned what they wanted and needed to improve their performance and created a product that met their needs with the features and options that matter.

Now, your customers have a WHY that they can get behind, turning them into loyal fans who believe in your cause.

Sounds good, but do we REALLY need a “why”?

Humans are funny. Absent information, we make up our own. We often assume the worst. I can tell you right now that, with regards to my email recipient, I have a lot of thoughts about them that I wish I didn’t.

Because why wouldn’t they explain why they feel a certain way unless it’s bad or embarrassing? Or maybe they’re just lazy. I don’t know, so my mind fills in the holes based on my experiences. Conspiracy theories gain ground because some crazy person attempts to explain things that aren’t being explained.

So, don’t let customers fill in the holes for your brand.

Explain WHY you’re doing what you’re doing so that YOU control the narrative.

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