This week we interviewed Ariana Alexander-Sefre.
She's a serial entrepreneur and an expert in creating multisensory experiences.
Combining the power of storytelling and sensory stimulation to tap into human nature.
Here is the insight from a fascinating interview with Ariana, where we talked in-depth about being an activist for your brand, passionate storytelling, and developing memorable experiences.
Founders; marketers; brand activists
An authentic brand needs absolute conviction behind its 'why'.
Every business needs a hugely hard-hitting mission behind it.
That's the message.
Without a mission you believe in, it's hard to stay committed, build a loyal community and team, and to sell your company with conviction–especially over ten years.
So when it comes to branding. Start with your mission.
For a brand to permeate in a noisy market, the message needs to be clear, consistent, and authentic.
Get certain on your 'why', back it up by evidence, and your message will begin to resonate with clarity, consistency, and authenticity.
But what if my 'why' isn't obvious?
With SPOKE, Ariana's 'why' was organic. That's the beauty of running a social impact business.
But, let's be practical. Not every business has a 'why' that's so easy to see.
For those businesses, we need to think outside the box to find something meaningful.
Ariana suggests breaking everything down so that you can rebuild it again without the existing system.
A first step could be to bring in outsiders, new employees or brand building experts because fresh eyes bring a fresh perspective.
With your fresh perspective, you can begin to redefine your 'why' and to craft a compelling story.
Ariana also suggests crafting your story around a character. If you intimately know your end user, the final use-case, you can create a story that follows that one person who is using your software.
You can't go wrong by writing and crafting a brand around an individual.
Numerous templates that can support you in this; we even interviewed a brand messaging expert on the How the Fxck podcast and he recommended Donald Miller's StoryBrand (Amazon UK/ Amazon USA) as *the* go-to book on the subject.
Either way, crafting a compelling 'why' takes time, you need to do lots of research and validation.
Leaders, listen up. Good storytelling permeates through your team.
Structure and research is a starting point. But don't forget to listen to your intuition.
Ultimately, your brand story is emotive and visceral. It should be something higher than the day-to-day work, something in which you and your customers can believe.
Ariana says that good brand storytelling flows from the founders. You need to get up on stage and talk passionately about what you're doing.
That's why Ariana talks about founders as activists for their company.
And I think this extends to markers and other employees, too.
If you are solving a real problem, then your company needs to be a movement focused on solving that problem.
If the leadership team can tell a great story, then that story will permeate through your team and out into the world.
Nothing else will get the job done.
Nothing else will truly get your vision out there, no matter how much you spend on ads and marketing campaigns.
Why is storytelling so powerful?
As a human race, we've told stories for 1000s of years.
We learned from the past; we feel hope for the future. Stories inspire us to build things, to make things, to recreate experiences. Even the society we live in is a story that's told by all of us about how we should be living, what we should do, how we should act and treat each other.
Humans are walking stories–all of us. And companies should not ignore that.
Multisensory brand experiences
Should we use multisensory experiences in every event?
The short answer is yes.
But, let's get clear on what multisensory experiences are. We don't mean circus themed, over stimulation party-like conferences. It's not all about entertainment.
Great multisensory experiences naturally work with people's senses. Using an understand of human nature to put people in comfortable states where they can be their most restful, productive selves.
To create a space of productivity and learning, create signals.
Typically, you walk into an event, and you receive lots of signals. It's cold; it's quiet; people are nervous and sitting alone; the lights are too bright.
What this does to the human body is force it to enter the stress zone. You get nervous as well and it feels claustrophobic.
Is that the type of experience you want to create?
Now imagine the opposite. You enter the room and someone greets you by name and introduces you to someone.
The lights are warm and inviting and don't disrupt the dilation of your pupils. There's music on that sets a tone and engages your bodies natural rhythm.
Now that would be a great conference.
This article is the 12th in our series of interviews with marketing leaders. If you enjoyed it, there's plenty more where it came from. And plenty more to come.