Branding From The Beginning: Why A Copywriter Should Be The First Person You Hire

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If we have one small piece of formative advice for entrepreneurs and proprietors who are starting businesses and setting out to build memorable brands, it’s this: start with the story first. It sounds simple, but it’s surprisingly uncommon in our world.

It’s quite frequent that we work with founders who already have a brand identity, a website and perhaps even some brand collateral and they have been so busy creating these assets that they can’t articulate their own brand position or core values. Likewise, it’s not uncommon to work with someone who has exhausted all of their financial resources, creative energy and time on building the visual pieces of the brand and then realize, often too late in the game, that they now need this one essential piece of their story to bring it all together—the language of it all.

The language is often the last and final puzzle piece of an asset that you’ve been putting a lot of energy into. But here’s the thing: it needs to be the first. The story should inform the brand identity process. The copy should inform the structure and user experience of the website. Discover the story that you want to tell and then create the assets that will best serve that story. To do it backwards is like attempting to fertilize a seed that hasn’t even been planted yet.

Planting the Seed: Telling the Story

Since you asked nicely, we’re prepared to give you a little free advice to ensure you do it right. Before you set out to create a brand identity, push a website live, or even start advertising your services, you should intricately know and have easy access to the following storytelling pieces for your brand:

  1. The Brand Boilerplate
    This is the heart of your story. Let’s say you meet someone (it’s a meet-cute) and have limited time to tell them who you are and what you do, but you don’t have a lot of time (but for purposes of creativity let’s pretend you’re somewhere cooler than an elevator, ok?). What do you say? And if a team member, colleague or partner were in the same situation, would they say the same thing? Beware of the old game of “telephone” and know that if the message isn’t clear at the top, or even in the middle, that the brand message will become less potent and less powerful over time the more it’s shared in a way that’s not cohesive.

  2. Mission, Vision, Core Values
    You know the drill. Have fun with them, let them showcase your personality, make them really freaking aspirational. Don’t know where to start? Get help.

  3. Brand Promise
    What will people come to truly rely on you for? It better be something and it better provide value.

  4. Brand Position
    Who are you in relation to others in your market? What do you do that makes you unique? This is how you will be talked about in the “marketplace of needs” and it’s incredibly important to how you may decide to tell your story and make connections that matter with real humans who need you.

  5. Tone and Voice
    It’s the way that you talk about yourself, the words you use to do it, the slang you use (or choose not to use). It’s your verbal personality and all great brands have one that’s indistinguishable from all the rest of the noise. If that’s not a reason to hire a copywriter, I don’t know what is.

  6. Look and Feel
    It’s a vibe. Oftentimes, it’s a lifestyle. Talk about it, know it, live it. And most importantly: be so consistent about it that it feels redundant and unchanging at times. Repetition deepens impression. You want to impress the hell out of them.

There’s a lot more that a skilled copywriter or brand strategist can do for an emerging or repositioning brand, but this is an essential start. It’s almost passé at this point, but brand-building has become so intricately tied to storytelling that thinking about telling your story after you’ve already gotten started is to try and recreate something that’s already developed a storyline of its own—it’s just not one that you cultivated. Start at the beginning. Discover who you are, shape the narrative and then build the rest. And certainly, if the story is good, they will come.

If it’s not apparent, we’re pretty passionate about stories, the way that they are told, and how we connect to them. If you have any questions or think we can help, drop us a line!

Meghan King