Mail Boxes Etc. UK & Ireland's blog

Is your business an open book?

With World Book Day approaching on 7thMarch, it’s natural for our thoughts to turn to storytelling.  In the business world, marketing experts are constantly nudging us to think about our business’s story in order to build a credible brand that is embraced and understood – not just by customers, but by prospects, employees, competitors and potential investors. So, is your business an open book?  We thought we’d take a closer look at the concept of storytelling and what it means for start-ups and small businesses.

A quick internet search will bring up hundreds of articles that tell you why your business needs a story.  Some of them, you may feel, err a little on the side of the emotional: just how ‘remarkable’ does a dry-cleaning business or a book-keeping service need to be, as long as it does what it says on the tin?

But take a moment to consider why you, as a consumer, buy products and services where you do.  Chances are it will be a combination of price, convenience and confidence in the quality of what you’re buying.  Repeat custom will also be based on the purchasing experience you’ve had with that supplier to date.

And that might be enough for paperclips, taxi-cabs and the garden-clearance people you call on twice a year.  But take things up a level, to the type of purchase which requires a little more emotional investment, or resonates at some level with your own lifestyle, beliefs or self-image.  It could be that you want your T-shirts to be ethically sourced; you may prefer to support local firms; you might be drawn to an interior designer whose Instagram account reflects the way you see your living space.  And by selecting these suppliers you have, to an extent, bought into their story.

You could say that knowing a person’s story is the precursor to the development of a good relationship with them, and the same is true of a brand.

Back to basics

If this seems a little daunting, it needn’t be.  To find your brand’s story, just go back to your original business plan.  What was the initial idea?  What skills or innovations did you bring to the business, who was it aimed at, and how did you find your first customers?  There.  You already have several mini-stories staring you in the face.

You may already have your branding agreed and logo designed.  If not, agree your brand’s story with any business partners or associates before briefing the designer.  Then try creating a virtual mood board by pasting images, type fonts or some narrative into a document that you can use as part of the design brief.  Don’t be afraid of including ads or logos of other companies you admire, too.

Take the time to write your story down.  Think of it as your PR boilerplate – the ‘about’ section at the foot of your press releases that sums up your organisation in about 150 words. You’ll find it quite useful because that story can help you create or evolve the text in your marketing literature and on your website.

If you need a little help with your branding or logo, talk to the team at your nearest Mail Boxes Etc.  Our graphic design service is affordable and friendly – and we’re just as good at helping you evolve your branding too, and translating it onto different media from Facebook banners to roller banners.

Once you’ve pinned down that story, we’ll help you incorporate it into your wider marketing materials too.  Whether it’s simply by evolving your logo, adding a strapline or using recycled paper to underline your eco-credentials.

Whatever your business does, defining your story can actually help you, your employees and customers feel more comfortable.  It creates a sense of ownership and emotional investment, and generates the creative thinking that leads to great relationships.  But that’s another story – no pun intended.  Look out for our blog on relationship marketing, coming soon!

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