We recently had the opportunity to ask Branding and Storyteller expert Matt Ceniceros some questions about how Austin Startups can build their brand and spread the word about their value in the marketplace. Matt has served in various storytelling and public relations capacities across multiple industries for companies like Fedex, Applied Materials and has been cited for awards and work far too numerous to mention here. You can check out his website at http://mattceni.com/.
Austin Startup Attorney (ASA): What is a brand story?
Matt Ceniceros (MC): The brand story is essentially the sequence of events that explain why the company does what it does. The brand story answers the basic, Who, What, When, Why, Where, and How a company becomes a brand. For example, who are the founders, or why was the company founded? What is the problem the company solved or what opportunities did a visionary see? While these questions are the typical questions anyone would ask, the answers may surprise or compel people to dig deeper into understanding all facets of the brand.
ASA: Why do Austin startups need a brand story?
MC: If a startup cannot effectively explain why it exists, then why exist? If a startup cannot explain the problem it is solving then why would anyone invest in that company?
If a startup is content with building great technology, but does not take the time to inform potential investors and customers about the magnitude of their offerings, then all that company cares about is making great technology. An overwhelming focus on inventing is inconsistent with generating revenue.
The blunt explanation is: if a startup does not tell its own story, someone else will.
ASA: What are the basic steps in articulating a brand story?
MC: One of the easiest ways to articulate a brand story is to follow an “E-N-S” model, which stands for Environment, Need, and Solution. This framework allows you to logically walk your audience through the “what, why, and how” of the founding of the company or why it is operating in its current fashion.
What was the Environment in the marketplace or product category? What were the pain points for customers that were being underserved or what was the perceived opportunity you product or service could solve.
The second step is to talk about what were (are) the Needs of the underserved market or the solution that no one had (has) seen. This important step allows the company to demonstrate that it understands its served market and helps to build credibility for its product or service.
Finally, discuss how the company’s product or service is the Solution to meet the needs of the marketplace.
Startups could also look at the “Disney approach to telling its story. Anyone who has ever been a child has seen a Disney movie and each movie has a standard progression.
- First, the main character is introduced, as is their character or physical flaw.
- Then the character encounters an obstacle or a challenge.
- Next the main character is introduced to friends who are able to help console or encourage the main character.
- And in true fashion, once a support system is in place, the evil villain or antagonist actions their plan.
- The main character then adapts from its previous disposition and becomes a hero.
- The hero defeats the villain and everyone lives happily ever after.
As you hear this you’re probably thinking, Little Mermaid,Finding Nemo, or Cinderella. All of these movies are a brand story.
Of course, there’s always the KISS model: Keep It Simple Stupid. If you adopt this approach, just follow the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How sequence stated above.
ASA: What Austin Startups have a brand story you admire?
MC: There are a ton of interesting companies doing some very cool things in different market segments, and I’ve met a few at Tech Ranch Austin. I will say this, I rabidly admire any entrepreneur that has a vision or idea and commits to making it a reality.
ASA: What resources do you recommend for bootstrap startups for storytelling?
MC: I fully believe that you can learn a great deal with nothing but a free Twitter account. That said, I would look at online resources like:
Nancy Duarte – Nancy provides online presentation training, and her blog offers lots of great tips and tricks for telling your brand story.
Marketing Profs – Marketing visionary and pioneer Ann Handley helps to educate brands on the tools, resources, and training needed to tell your story. It does not get much better than having an industry-leader walk you through your process.
Get Storied – Download a free e-book, which is marketed as the “storytelling manifesto.”