Tell Your Story, Before Someone Else Does

If you don’t tell your brand’s story, someone else will.

Not proactively telling your story to target audiences – in ways suited to your organization’s unique culture, mission and traditions – helps to ensure that you will lose hard-earned ground.

If a vacation destination, for example, doesn’t continually promote itself and refresh its brand to core audiences, it will be overtaken by other destinations. In the travel and hospitality industry, there is a general understanding that every single season you need to refresh your story. Miami does an extraordinary job of marketing itself as a year-round international American city. They continually reach out to target markets with what’s new in the city as well as remind visitors about evergreen attractions, which is why they maintain their popularity year after year. In the case of Miami, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau has succeeded in extending Miami’s traditional tourist season to such an extent that the city has become a year-round destination. This is the result of a sophisticated, strategic, integrated, ongoing marketing and communications campaign aimed at target audiences worldwide.

This proactive approach applies to any organization, including non-profits, major companies, or cultural institutions. Even premiere institutions risk losing ground if they continue to rest on their laurels.

Yes, a PR crisis can turn public perception about an organization overnight. But failing to proactively tell a story over the long haul can have the same negative impact. Brands that aren’t actively promoting themselves gradually lose the luster and unique attractiveness of their brand through lack of attention and investment in telling their own story through the diverse channels that exist today.

While, of course, this is a perennial issue for companies, it’s also a great opportunity for businesses. Since perception of a brand really boils down to what people think of it, proactively telling a story can change public perception and spur brand resurgence.

A great example of a brand rebirth in higher education is New York University, which was seen as a second-tier commuter university that happened to be located in New York. (This is almost inconceivable to believe now.) Over the last 25 years, NYU has emerged as one of the top universities in the country and one of the most desirable to attend.

Of course, dynamic leadership and a powerful track record of results in fundraising and academic excellence and attendance also underlies their reinvigoration in the public mind. But deciding that proactive communications and marketing needs to go hand-in-hand with their great strides in these other areas has been critical to their current positive public image.

NYU has grown so strong in the public mind because they aligned their institutional ambitions with prudent yet bold leadership, outstanding academic credentials and renowned fundraising prowess with strategic marketing and communications to target audiences. NYU’s ability to tell its own unique and rich story has been an important ingredient to its current perception in the educational market.

Public relations, social media, advertising, marketing events, digital marketing, collateral, the use of video, community and government relations — they have all been brought to bear to advance NYU’s goal and objectives.

Again, failing to proactively tell your story in a consistent and strategic way can have huge negative consequences. Telling a brand story to key audiences is like maintaining a bridge – it’s a vital arc that stretches from brand to key audiences. But, without investment and upkeep, over time there will be the inevitable weakening of the span, and at times, the outcome is sudden and catastrophic. But as NYU and countless other brands have shown, memorable and strategic storytelling campaigns can drastically elevate public perception and advance an organization’s mission.

Comment (1)

  • Morgan Powell

    “They don’t understand our story ,” the CEO told me. “And we haven’t done a good job of telling it. We live in a fragmented world where much of your story is in bits and pieces in the digital universe. Take control of your narrative before someone else does .

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