Brand story as brand strategy

By Dermot Latimer, Group CEO, Point Group. With brands increasingly humanising and personalising their relationship with consumers, it’s high time they get their stories straight. 

By Dermot Latimer, Group CEO, Point Group. With brands increasingly humanising and personalising their relationship with consumers, it’s high time they get their stories straight. A carefully crafted brand story can take readers on a personalised journey that sparks brand intimacy and drives action.

Research by Headstream shows if customers enjoy a brand’s story, 55% are more likely to buy from the company in the future; 44% said they would share the story with their contacts, while 15% would make an immediate purchase. Story also activates memory, and telling yours presents a powerful opportunity to leave a lasting imprint in the minds of consumers. Information in the form of facts, ideas and assertions is not our mind’s natural language. Only through binding things together in a narrative can understanding and memory be awakened.

Everyone has a story to tell

Sharing the story behind your brand through a commanding narrative has the potential to evoke a memorable moment which presents your brand as human and relatable. Brand story is also about more than relaying your distinct history or elaborating on why your product sits on the frontlines of industry. In today’s overcrowded digital marketplace, consumers want to connect with a brand’s narrative, and with the hope of finding sanctuary for their identity.

Brand story’s primary focus should therefore be on creating meaningful connections that drive a deeper emotionality. A 2013 study which compared the brand experiences of a group of consumers exposed to story with a group that wasn’t revealed remarkable differences in brand perception. The study demonstrated that a well-crafted story has the potential to create positive brand associations and increase consumers’ willingness to spend on a brand.

It also showed that consumers who were exposed to the story behind the brand talked more about the brand and were more engaged when making associations. However, those not exposed to the story, “were more impatient and showed a relatively negative attitude towards the brand, not only by their choice of words but also through their tone of voice…”.

Storytelling is today acknowledged as an important tool in the arsenal of marketing strategists, and more and more brands are employing the craft to drive trust and authenticity. There’s also no universal approach to the ‘telling’, except that your story should be expressed in such a way that it leaves its audience with a desire to share it with others. To achieve this, your brand story should read like a story, and not a sales pitch, or a showcase of your brand’s greatest hits. This no longer resonates with today’s consumer.

The problem is that many brands still avoid revealing any weaknesses or imperfections, while in reality, people earnestly relate to the experience of adversity and the brave steps taken to survive and prosper. Consumers crave authenticity, and they want to read about your brand’s difficult journey in finding a path towards success. They also want to know how your brand has evolved over time and why it’s still so relevant today.

Get your story straight

Why does my brand exist, and what does it stand for? How does it contribute to the world? What is my distinct brand voice, and how am I developing this voice? How is my brand’s current narrative perceived by the world? What about my brand’s personality makes it future proof?

Telling your brand’s story is an opportunity to display faith in your brand’s distinct character and what it personifies. It’s an opportunity to show how well you know its mission, broader market, and how others perceive it. Above all, it demonstrates that you appreciate that meaningful brand associations create value beyond the intrinsic characteristics of a product or service.

Do you have a firm grasp on your brand’s audience and what drives and inspires them? Because consumers use brands as a means to express their identity and lifestyle, giving them a voice is another important building block in your brand’s story. A brand perception audit can help you understand your audience better, and by getting feedback on:

  • How your brand is perceived in relation to its competition,
  • The values your audience looks for in a brand.
  • How they perceive your brand’s voice.
  • How your brand contributes to their expression of personal identity.
  • The degree to which their relationship with your brand allows them to project their values and lifestyle to the outside world, etc.

Ultimately, when you tell your brand’s story you need to be mindful of the symbolic role your brand plays in consumers’ lives and how it contributes to their perception of self and their ideal identity. Humanising your brand through making its audience central to its story will further inspire others to want to engage with it more intimately – which represents the first leap towards converting them into brand ambassadors.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  – Maya Angelou


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