When it comes to storytelling, be interesting. I can usually guess the ending of a Hallmark movie before the end of the first act. That’s because we’ve all seen that story before. Don’t be a Hallmark movie.
Tell your brand story with a focus on differentiation and creating top-of-mind brand awareness. My favorite copy review trick. When reading marketing copy, change the brand name. If the copy still works, is it good copy?
And as always, it starts with research and listening. When implementing internal and external messaging, it helps if your strategy supports your operational approach or builds on your established guest experience. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Even the charisma of celebrities and the cult of personality has its limitations when the messaging is muddy. To help keep things clear, strategy is key.
At Fifth Group Restaurants the brand pillar messaging framework created a lens with which we could easily communicate and evaluate our brand promise at every level of the organization – people, culture, training and operations. We created a unique approach for our portfolio that helped strengthen the elements connecting our family of brands, create better customer segmentation and highlight each brand in our differentiated portfolio.
The work we did at Fifth Group built on global messaging and brand strategy work I was a part of with the world’s most international luxury brand – InterContinental Hotels & Resorts. We worked with Ogilvy Worldwide in global gateway cities to create a consistent brand house that worked across regions and resonated globally with luxury travelers. The Ogilvy process for finding brand voice and differentiated positioning is a well known industry standard, and I was lucky to see it in action.
Last but not least is turning those messages into actions and building culture with the troops on the ground. Good ideas are easy. Creating culture in a global organization takes time and consistency. In smaller organizations like Fifth Group Restaurants, you can directly impact all your brand ambassadors. But what if you have hundreds of locations spread across thousands of miles, and you’re trying to activate and engage quickly with a decentralized workforce, like with the world’s largest hotel company?
The right tools can make that job manageable. It was true when I was changing oil in the driveway with my dad and its true when you are trying to engage stakeholders with strategic communications. Check out the IHG Sports Activation toolkit, which helped agencies and managers around the Americas tell our their story, or the MBIKES social media guidelines that taught my start up’s brand ambassadors how to tell our story in the right way. Freedom within the framework.