Iconic: a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.

“The symbolic importance of an iconic brand’s identity enables it to leverage its recognition far beyond  that of other brands.” –  Millard Brown

We live today in a digital era. No longer is the only way to connect to the masses through securing ad space on television, radio or other expensive and competitive channels.

With TV and radio advertising, you had the captive audience to yourself, you could stand out amongst your competitors leading them where you wanted, with a big budget investment. Then came the Internet.

Now we have thousands of products and services screaming at us like seagulls vying for the last chip. The noise is deafening, and your audience (clients, customers) have become savvy about how they consume this information being downloaded 24/7 across the globe.

Your audience today have evolved into sophisticated media consumers. They have access to not only your marketing messages, but also to what the rest of the world are saying about you – they can now track your every move if they look hard enough.

They are looking for authenticity, for you and your team behind the brand. They are looking to see if what you say stands up to what you do. They are looking to be the characters in your brand’s story myths.

In short they have a radar now to see whether your values match your brand story message. When they see congruence, and you sync with their values, deepest desires, dreams and fears then you rise up from the noise into iconic status.

Consider Apple’s brand story. I’m an Apple user to the core (pun intended) . I have travelled the world with my trusted Apple MacBook, following my entrepreneurial dreams believing I have everything I need within my silver machine to create, prepare and launch the biggest company of my dreams. I am the innovative, unstoppable empowered dreamer creating a freedom in my life while changing the world.

Apple’s brand story speaks directly to my values and deepest desires –empowerment, innovation and freedom. They show me this in their advertising, in their values and in their stories:

I’ve never even considered a Dell, or a Sony. I look at PC users and wonder how they create anything. That’s a powerful brand story in my consumer psyche!

So how does Apple do this? How does your favorite cafe draw you back time after time when you could go to 5 others within a 2 minute walk? Why have I worn Nike sneakers without even looking at the competitors for over a decade? (Because I like to ‘Just do it!’)

“According to the WPP. Iconic brands have higher top-of-mind consumer awareness than other brands (58% for iconic brands vs. 26% for non-iconic brands).” ~ Susan Gunelius

This is because their brand stories, their marketing messages and what they communicate is consistent across multiple channels. 

Here are 5 steps you can take to get clear on your brand story and begin positioning yourself as the authentic leader in your market, aligned with the values that your tribe immediately connect with:

1. Know your Customer Avatar intimately. Know thy tribe. By this I mean throw away the ‘ideal’ customer and get to know the real people who are your customer. Ask yourself these questions:

– What are the 2 most important things in their life?

– What keeps them awake at night?

– What are their top 2 values in life at this particular life period?

– What’s their biggest vision in life?

– What are their 2 biggest pain points in life right now?

– How does your product or service directly solve or improve these pain points?

2. Myth making – write half a page on your brand story. Write this as though your brand was a person, a friend. Then make your customer the hero of your story, take them on the journey of your brand and how it changes their life. Use imagery here, create a branding Pinterest board if you’re a visual person. Tell your customers how your brand resolves and supports them reaching their highest vision. 

3. Research where your tribe hangs out online and offline. This is where you’ll meet them, speak with them and connect them with your brand story. Make a list of where they are hanging out, which Facebook groups they are a part of, who are the leaders and influencers in their worlds. Keep adding to this list as you become more intimately aware of your customer tribe.

4. Choose the mediums that best tell your brand story. Create sharable rituals, then reduce the badge so your tribe carries it on. This is where you get strategic in your marketing. If your tribe hangout on Instagram, then utilise video and imagery that tells your brand story. If you are looking to build your list then create promotions to draw them as the heroes into brand myths. Leverage great platforms like Heyo for competitions.

5. Brand management. Continue being visible. Frequency and consistency. Stay in the conversations your tribe are having, online and offline. How can you stay connected? Create a weekly podcast show. Host an ask me anything on Twitter, develop a Youtube series, write articles for Elephant Journal or Huffington Post. Create a Facebook photo album with images of quotes and pictures that tell your brand story and get your followers to tag their friends. Brainstorm the ideas that best spark the imagination and inspire your audience. Then keep doing it.

Follow this up by creating your monthly marketing goals and breaking them down into weekly and daily actions. Then allocate these tasks to yourself or your team, and make sure each scheduled action is a non-negotiable.

Being iconic means being true to yourself, your vision and your values then communicating that to your audience in your brand story myths. We have an opportunity in this digital era to tell our stories and be heard, with minimal resources and a whole lot of heart.

Now let’s take action – tell us your brand story in the comments below today!