by Dana Detrick-Clark
At the heart of every brand is its story. Many start-ups (and even some of us that have been around awhile) struggle with how to tell that story through images, ads, and content – our branding. But if you have a child in your life who loves to read, you have the perfect example right in front of you.
Books for small children have some special components that perfectly outline how a brand can approach communicating their story to perspective clients or customers. By using something as simple as Green Eggs and Ham or Goodnight, Moon as our guide, we can break it down into an effective and fun process.
So pull up a chair and a tale, and get ready to discover three ways these books are here to help!
1. Children’s storybooks and brand stories share common goals: to educate and inspire.
Learning and feeling are pretty much the only two things you have on our to-do list when you’re little. By creating characters and situations a child both relates to emotionally and can learn a meaningful lesson from, children’s books present a perfect outline for creating a branding story that speaks to your customers and motivates them to act on their feelings.
Who is the protagonist of your brand? Is it you as founder? Or the product or service? Identify one major yet clear obstacle the protagonist of your story has overcome in the establishment of your brand. If it’s a person, it may be slaying the dragons of a rough economic climate, or traveling through the land of limited education. If it’s the brand, this may involve identifying what problem you’re rescuing your customer from, so they can live happily ever after.
2. Children’s books speak in simple terms and use consistent, easy to understand visuals.
As adults, we really enjoy making things complicated. But think of the most popular brands, and what basic aspects of their story have impacted us:
Real Life Hero: We celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of a 62 year old, white-suited Southern gentleman, opening his first franchise that popularizes his “eleven herbs and spices” recipe for decades to come.
Mythical Hero: We’re comforted by the green-clad siren of the sea, as she heads for the shores of every corner of Main Street on the globe to bring us her signature brew, changing the way we experience an everyday drink.
The symbols and stories are clear and memorable, and like a child’s story, we root for the hero to succeed.
You’ve identified your protagonist, conflict, and resolution in Exercise 1. What would telling this story look like? Would the protagonist be the smiling face on the side of a bucket of chicken, or the spokesperson in an ad? Would it be an illustration or typography that would convey the hero? What role does color or design play?
Hint: There’s no right or wrong answer, but the more these things work together, the more impact your story will have.
3. Children’s books are so endearing, that they can be experienced again and again.
You’ve no doubt gotten the request from the child in your life to, “Read it again…and again…and again!“ They seemingly never lose excitement for their favorite tales, even when the ending is no longer a surprise. Our brand story can have that same appeal.
Films based on leaders in technology and social media have been successful for this reason. We’re transfixed to the drama and intrigue on the screen, watching them rise from struggling creators to massive successes, as though we’re along for the ride, too.
Our perception of them as people and the journey they took to make an impact changes how we interact with their products. It takes us from “user” status to being “evangelists” for their work, much the same way those sweet tales by A. A. Milne took what could have been just a stuffed bear in a red shirt and forever embedded kind-hearted warmth into it for every child who had one of their own.
How many ways can your story be told? Use your mailing list, surveys, and social media to get feedback as you convert your tale into your brand messages like your “about” page, your USP, and your elevator pitch. Use this testing to hone your story into something your most ideal prospects are drawn to like a Pooh bear to a pot of honey.
The next time you are asked to read that storybook just “one more time,” pay closer attention – the solution to the struggle you’re having in telling your brand’s story, and the inspiration to make it something timeless and loveable, may be right in front of you.
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