If You Don’t Define Your Brand, Someone Else Will

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“Your brand is not a name, it is not a logo, and it is not a slogan; a brand is what people think and feel about your company” - Cat Johnson
  • A brand is not simply a name or a logo. “A brand is what people think and feel about your company,” says Cat Johnson, content marketing expert for the coworking industry.
  • In her latest workshop, Cat walked us through the concept of brand storytelling and how it helps workspaces to relate with their target audiences.
  • Here, Cat explains the key elements of effective storytelling and outlines 4 key topics to help coworking spaces start telling their brand stories.

Last week, we learned that in the future of work brand storytelling will be a primary vehicle that companies use to connect with target audiences. In a world where work is increasingly becoming more purposeful and more values-driven, it is imperative for companies to be authentic and real.

In her latest training session “Intro to Brand Storytelling”, content marketing and storytelling expert Cat Johnson dived into why it’s no longer enough to just exist as a coworking space and why coworking space operators need to be intentional about their brand story. 

Why Does Storytelling Work? 

Because stories have been a part of the human experience for as long as we have been around. “Stories are part of our shared history, they are how our ancestors used to share knowledge.” Stories continue to be relevant today because they continue to resonate with us. 

Stories equal bonding. In fact, when we listen to stories and relate to a character, we are connecting on a physiological level. When we follow a narrative, we synthesize oxytocin, “the bonding hormone”. 

Brand Storytelling 101

First and foremost, you need to define your own brand; if you don’t someone else will. Second, in order for brand storytelling to work, it needs to be human and real. Third, the goal of brand storytelling is to share your company values and purpose; it’s a tool you need to leverage to connect with people and to differentiate yourself from the competition. 

“Your brand is not a name, it is not a logo, and it is not a slogan; a brand is what people think and feel about your company.” – Cat Johnson

Storytelling is not a one time deal; it is something you need to build and nurture. “To build the feel of a brand, you need more than one story;” you need to be consistent. 

According to Cat, there are four key elements to effective storytelling:

  1. Clarity
  2. Consistency
  3. Authenticity
  4. A service mindset

Now, before you start creating your stories there are 8 things you need to clearly define:

  1. Who is your target market?
  2. What do you offer? (no, it is not desks, chairs, and Internet)
  3. What are your brand values?
  4. Why do you do what you do?
  5. What is your origin story?
  6. What is genuinely interesting about your space and brand?
  7. What’s inspiring about your community?
  8. What’s your big picture vision?

Storytelling Topics and Ideas

Some stories are more relatable than others, which is what makes them stand out from the crowd. For those in the flexible workspace industry, Cat has identified 4 overarching topics that work well. 

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    1. Origin stories

    Everyone wants to know how something came to be. How did you get the idea to go into coworking? What inspired you? What happened during the building and fit out process? How did you get to be where you are today? 

    2. Purpose

    Storytelling is inherently purpose-driven, so build your brand storytelling around why you are doing what you’re doing, what you are passionate about, what you are interested in, and what you are trying to do. Basically, share your why, your vision, and your roadmap. 

    3. Values

    People connect with those who share their own values, so be intentional about sharing your company values, whether that be supporting entrepreneurs, women in tech, the creative industry, etc. This can be done by sharing the projects you are working on or the vendors you work with (this can be especially effective if you work with fair trade or B certified companies). 

    4. Community

    Share stories about your community in order to give people an insider’s view into your space and your brand. Pro tip: if you share a photo or video, make sure there are people in it! An empty space doesn’t say much about a company.

    Sharing Your Stories

    You have a story to tell, but a story isn’t a story if you don’t share it. There are countless places and platforms where you can share your stories:

    • Your website
    • Your blog
    • Your social media profiles
    • Share them through photos and videos
    • Inside your coworking space
    • Emails and newsletters
    • Local, regional, national, and international press
    • Events 
    • Printed marketing materials

    Don’t miss Cat’s upcoming training session, “Advanced Instagram Marketing for Coworking Spaces”, on October 16th. You can register for it here.

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