Posted by Lorraine Carter on July 25 2013 @ 11:40
If you were asked to sum up your brand story in a valuable two minute radio sound bite or TV interview could you do it? If the answer is “NO” or you hesitate over your reply, then maybe its time to re-evaluate what your brand story is all about.
Is Your Brand Story
Worth Listening to?
Being able to succinctly articulate a compelling story around your brand, how it came in to being, what its all about, why it matters to your primary customers and where it’s heading into the future is crucial to your success. Stories connect people and your brand story is what gives it meaning and solidity, helps define its values, shapes its destiny and captures your customer’s imaginations, thereby attracting and engaging their ongoing interest.
A brand’s story isn’t a nice ‘add on’ for marketing purposes either. Rather it’s the foundations and inspiration for your marketing strategy – supporting the way you drive awareness and sales for your product or services and ultimately increase your business's profitability and growth. The more compelling your story, the more powerful your brand.
A great brand story can be unifying (for both customers and stakeholders), motivating and inspiring for your teams internally and give the work they do more direction and meaning, thereby enriching the environment in which they work, all of which filters through to the experience your customers have with your brand through your front line staff – your brand ambassadors.
Brand stories are never static either, they continue to develop over time in order to stay relevant and respond to customer demands and ever changing market dynamics.
Image via Ben&Jerry’s
A great example, amongst many, of a brand with a very powerful story is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. The tale of two young men who were determined to set up a company which would embrace sustainability and share prosperity (with employees and stakeholders alike) and, incidentally at the same time produce amazing ice cream, all of which hooked the imagination of the US public. Their story then went global and the rest is history.
Ben and Jerry’s aim today, they declare, continues to centre around finding interesting and unusual ways to improve the quality of life for individuals, produce top quality all-natural, wholesome ice cream and respect the environment at the same time…
Back in the UK, the well-known healthy fruit drink brand Innocent had a great story which, crucially, captured not only the imagination of consumers but journalists everywhere. Three Oxford educated students who wanted to produce drinks which would boost the nation’s health using only natural ingredients went on to succeed where many others had failed.
Image via Telegraph.co.uk
Their commitment to their cause and brand ethos couldn’t be faulted. Their packaging was simple and amusing yet full of character – and their social media channels (they were early adopters) reflected the same brand story and personality traits too. They had energy, enthusiasm and innovative marketing techniques to capture their core audiences attention.
Interestingly their brand has been bought over by global giant Coca Cola yet that move hasn’t dented the brand’s success. Innocent still continues to sell under the ‘wholesome goodness banner’ brand story and to this day it still continues to resonate with their customers. The brand was powerful enough in itself that it didn’t matter who owned the company. Their brand ethos and customer base had already been established to such an extent that the smooth take-over was hardly noticed. The brand has become a living entity in its own right.
Historically Innocent’s engagement with consumers began even before they’d launched. Following a busy day selling fruit drinks at a festival, the three owners asked their customers there whether they thought they should start up in business. The rest is history and a very successful and profitable one at that.
Lego, another long established and much loved Danish brand, with a compelling brand story too used a series of amusing YouTube vignettes in their video The Lego Story which they used to re-tell their brand story when they celebrated their 80th anniversary last year. It tells of their inventor, the company’s values and the commitment to their product both in terms of quality and the education of children around the globe.
The story of women’s underwear brand SPANX is very much connected with its founder and owner, the former sales trainer and stand up comedienne Sara Blakely. Her story of being unable to find tights she liked, then inventing her own, resonates with every woman who has a bulge or two to hide (at least the first part does!). This ‘everywoman’ even had her mum draw the design for the original prototype.
Image via themagicknickershop.co.uk
Today, proceeds from every pair of SPANX sold go towards the Sara Blakely Foundation which helps women in underprivileged parts of the world start up their own businesses through education and entrepreneurship.
Some re-occurring themes, worth reflecting on when reviewing elements of your own brand story, have appeared in each of the powerful brand stories mentioned above – however they must be authentic and real!
- Share what you care about to engage your audience emotionally
- Localize wherever possible in order to speak directly to local communities and create engaging connections
- Encourage individuals to make your brand their own and become your brand champions
When creating your own brand story, be absolutely clear on what you want to communicate and why it’s important to both you and your core target audience. This should centre on who you are, why you’re doing it, why it’s important - so customers care, and what differentiates your brand from your competitors. To be truly engaging it must evoke strong emotions in your audience and ooze personality!
Your brand story must consistently underpin everything you do within your business, be the filter through which all your communications and brand strategy flows, influence the way in which you interact with your customers and shape the experiences they have through every touch point of your brand.
- What’s the ‘truth’ or ‘inspiration’ behind your brand story?
- What’s significant about your brand story compared to your competitors?
- Have you considered how to consistently communicate your brand story and brand values through your fully integrated brand strategy?