3 Essential Tools For Building Your Haunt’s Brand

When thinking about what you want your haunt’s brand to look like, you can start by referencing and taking notes from the movie, Shrek. Shrek, the ogre, states proudly that “Ogres are like onions.” He elaborates by saying ogres are not like onions because they make people cry, but because they both have layers. And, conveniently enough, just as ogres and onions have layers, so does the story of your haunted attraction. And similar to ogres, there is more to your haunt’s story, or brand, than most people think. The challenge arises when one considers the many different methods by which he or she can effectively tell that story. Here are some tips that will help you discover the power behind your haunt’s brand and reveal how you can improve the way you tell your story.

1. Your Characters Tell Your Story

Your characters in costume and behind the scenes tell the story of your brand. They are the faces of your haunt and the people that customers associate with your attraction. If your guest has a bad experience while asking a simple question over the phone, your character has failed. If your guest has a bad walk through because the guy acting as a zombie stopped to tie his shoe, your character has failed and detracted from your story.

People remember good and bad experiences with customer service. So much so, that 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of poor service experience. Try reaching out to your guests by sending out a survey or talking to them face to face about their experience at your haunt. According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, a typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. Although it’s sometimes difficult to hear about the aspects of your haunt that need improvement, it will help you in the long run to listen and be receptive to your attendees’ feedback.

2. Your Visual Brand Tells Your Story

Your logo, web, and social media presence contribute to your haunt’s story. Is your your logo creepy and sinister? Or is it playful and friendly? Next, take a look at your website. Is it easy to navigate and fun to use? Or does it make visitors want to scream? Your visual brand should reflect the intensity and scare level of your haunt. Is your haunt family-friendly? Or is it not meant to be experienced by the faint of heart? Would a teenager want to bring his first date to your haunt for a good scare? Or would your haunt be better suited for a curious six-year old? Whether you realize it or not, your haunt’s story is being told even before guests set foot in your ticket line.

As far as social media goes, your voice is an important factor in effectively communicating your story. Your voice is your personality described in an adjective: lively, positive, cynical, or professional. Ask yourself the following questions to help determine and strengthen your voice:

– If your brand was a person, what kind of personality would it have?
– If your brand was a person, what’s their relationship to the consumer?
– Describe in adjectives what your haunt’s personality is not.
– Are there any haunts that have a similar personality to yours? Why are they similar?
– How do you want your guests to think about your haunt?

3. Your “Why” Tells Your Story

In Simon Sinek’s TedTalk: Start With Why, he explains that most companies know what they do, as well as how they do it. However, very few organizations can articulate why they sell a product or service (apart from the desire to make a profit). They have trouble defining their belief and purpose because they prioritize the what’s and how’s of their operations, instead of focusing on their “why statement”.

Ignoring your “why statement” is detrimental to your haunted business because it is the thing that connects people to your belief, and your belief is what sells. Your belief is what motivates your employees to come in early and stay late. It is the driving force behind gut feelings that people cannot explain in words, but still feel inclined to join your group, buy your product, or attend your event. People who believe what you believe will buy from you, and those that don’t share your belief will not.

Remember Sinek’s words of wisdom, “The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

Knowing your “why” will separate you from your competitors, motivate your employees, and help you gain a better understanding of your target audience.

Oh Wait… Your Brand = Your Story

There are more layers to your story than the copy written on a brochure or poster. In addition, there are a number of factors contributing to your story (possibly more than you might’ve originally thought). This is both exciting and challenging. The excitement comes from the endless amount of possibilities and power you have as a creator. You can show off your haunt through your artistic approach with your website, or include crazy, creepy characters in your attraction. The challenge comes from the factors that you cannot always control: your new ticket collector isn’t as friendly with your guests as she showed herself to be in her one-on-one interview with you. Although the art of storytelling may seem like a never ending process, being conscious of how you present yourself to your audience is a tremendous first step that will benefit your team, your guests, and your haunt!