What product or service does your travel company sell? You might be surprised to learn your business is really quite mundane and, undoubtedly, like hundreds of other businesses in the tourism industry.
Do you own a hotel? Then you sell a place for people to sleep.
Do you run a tour company? You’re in the business of selling an ordered list of places to go and things to do, possibly led by someone so people who buy the product don’t have to look at the list.
Do you represent an airline? People buy space to sit in the metal flying tubes your company owns.
That’s it. That’s what you sell.
The real question is, what do you really sell? When people buy from you, do they feel content and comfortable? Does your product or service elevate a person’s social status or provide peace of mind? When someone makes that purchase, do they know they’ve also positively contributed to the environment? This is where your brand comes in.
Your company’s brand consists of two things: Symbology, like your logo and colors, and intangible assets, like the benefits of your product and the “vibe” of your company. Your company’s brand is the personality, message, and mission behind the business. It is the image or identity that people recognize. Conveying this with the world means you need to understand and communicate your brand’s story.
To a certain extent, your company doesn’t get to fully develop its own brand. The way others’ perceive your company is out of your control. This is why delivering the product or service you promise matters: It has a direct impact on your brand’s credibility. Because a business and its brand should reflect and support each other, it also means a brand can absolutely affect the success of a business.
With strategic and intentional development of your brand (supported by your brand story) alongside your business, you can guide public perception — and your company’s success — in the right direction.
You can start a business, but if you don’t communicate about it, people won’t know it exists. At its very basic level, a brand story creates awareness not only about what you sell, but why it matters, how it creates value, and how it solves a problem.
Differentiate in a Crowded Marketplace
If you sell a place for people to sleep or an ordered list of activities, then you sell the same thing that hundreds — thousands! — of other companies sell. Presumably, you didn’t start your company just so you could put another widget on the shelf. There is something unique about your business — something interesting about the origins of your company, something that influenced you, some sort of value baked into your company’s ethos.
This is the seed that sprouts into your brand story. This is your opportunity to differentiate your offering from every other company.
A note of caution here: I think it’s more important than ever that we operate from a place of abundance. In other words, this isn’t intended to reinforce a competitive, capitalist mode of operation. Rather, embracing your brand story is your way to celebrate your company’s motivation, vision, intention, and people — all of which are unique to you.
Attract the Right People
Communicating only about what you sell has the potential to attract everyone who wants to book a hotel room, take a tour, or buy a seat on an airplane. Your brand story not only attracts the people who seek the product or service you sell, but also those who align with your company values and resonate with your reason for being.
This is why it is so important for your brand and brand story to accurately reflect what your business does. People make decisions based on what you communicate, so you need to make sure that what you say and what you sell are aligned with each other. In other words, if your hotel business is unique because you serve fresh meals sourced entirely from local ingredients in the morning — and you share that story — then you better make sure that’s what travelers find when they arrive for breakfast.
The good news is that, with a clear and consistent brand story, you’re far more likely to attract the clientele you’re seeking.
Your brand is what causes people to like, recommend, and trust your business. It is, of course, important that your product or service meets their needs. However, when your company shows up, upholds its values, and consistently delivers on its promises — all supported by your brand story — you create the conditions to grow a fan base.
It is easier and less expensive to sell to repeat customers versus bringing new customers through a sales funnel, so generating loyalty is valuable for any company. When you stay on the frontend of navigating and shaping your brand story — and this story is appropriately and honestly reinforced by people who love your brand — this generates priceless word-of-mouth marketing.
And that is a story worth telling.