Perth curator Justin Strharsky learns a bit about how to tell a brand story from Perth expert Bernadette Jiwa.
Name: Bernadette Jiwa
Works at: The Story of Telling
You help entrepreneurs and newer businesses craft what you call a ‘brand story’ – what’s that?
A brand story is the sum of all the parts that make up your brand, from your product, name and copy, design and marketing, to your mission and how your customers experience your brand.
I’ve written a post that details the various elements.
I imagine that many entrepreneurs are overwhelmed by the demands of a new business. How do you explain why telling the story of their brand should win their limited resources?
It’s as simple as understanding that it doesn’t matter how good your idea is if nobody knows.
You primarily work with entrepreneurs and newer businesses – why is that?
Actually I work with startups and entrepreneurs who are further along the track with developing their business. The best time to work out what differentiates you is right at the start, that way you can take your product to market with confidence. Sometimes people come to me when what they’ve been doing hasn’t work and then we track back to work out why.
Should the stories of newer businesses be different than those of established companies? Why?
Newer businesses are often at an advantage because they get to tell te story they want to tell. More established businesses have shareholders to please.
What’s the most common mistake entrepreneurs make in telling their stories?
Not understanding what really makes them stand out from the competition. Overlooking something in the detail, because they are too close to what they are doing to see the big picture.
What makes you uniquely suited to helping others tell their stories?
There is no formula for this kind of work. I guess you could say it’s a gift. Part science and part art. I got to be good at it by doing the work, building bridges to where I wanted to be as an entrepreneur, failing, learning from failure, then getting up and doing it all again only better next time.
You’ve seen (and helped) lots of young businesses. Are there any characteristics that make some stand out compared to the others?
The ones that stand out are the businesses who do what the big guys can’t do, or didn’t think was possible. The entrepreneurs who go narrow and deep.
Have you encountered any brand stories that are best left untold?
Actually most of what I encounter are stories that should be told that aren’t. The kinds of stories that illustrate why brands are least like their competitors. The ones they often overlook.