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Three Steps to Brand Storytelling

Wayne McMaster

17 May 2013

Every home product needs a story, as does every home-interest brand. Telling a compelling brand story to the right audience is much more than ad copywriting and attention grabbing. It's recognising the product's origin. It's communicating the creators' philosophy.  It’s about building something that people care about and want to buy into.

It’s about framing your scarcity and dictating your value. It’s about thinking beyond the utility and functionality of products and services.

An effective brand story is authentic and creative, it has the same components that you see in a novel you can’t put down, or a film you watch a hundred times. It emotionally engages the audience, touching them in a personal way. It’s the opposite of a ‘hard sell’, instead taking the consumer on a journey with your brand.

Benefits of storytelling

If you don’t have a story you are just another commodity. You have no way to differentiate your brand or your business. A brand’s story can convey its message, build credibility, establish a vision, motivate buyers. It can strive for the creation of loyalty and meaningful bonds with your customers.

Brand storytelling is the art of connecting the hearts and minds of customers to shared values and ideals that define the purpose of why the brand exists and who benefits from its existence.

Purpose

Without a strong purpose guiding their existence, leaders resort to price-cuts in order to boost short-term sales. The trouble is, customers only return when there’s a sale on, so the sale becomes more of a permanent attraction. Before you know it, you’ve reached the point of no return. The brand has become a commodity. Your brand’s purpose will be the hero of your brand’s story and should form the basis of a memorable and lasting connection with your customers.

Values

Brands can’t share values with everybody–only with some people. As my namesake Wayne (actor Mike Meyers) profoundly states in the comedy Wayne’s World “Led Zeppelin didn’t write songs everybody liked, they left that to the Bee-Gees”. So it is with brand storytelling. To feel authentic to customers, shared values will be the principal driver in relationship building with your brand – not promotion.  Brand storytelling should also reinforce shared values not functional benefits. At the heart of enduring brand storytelling, shared values will be the only reason people will notice, listen and act. When what matters (beyond transactions and money-making) is shared between brand and customer, there is no need for selling, convincing, persuading and discounting prices…it’s simply about the resonance of the like-minded. Resonance creates preference.

Truth

Honesty and transparency are important in brand storytelling. Yes, you’re crafting “stories,” but they need to be rooted in the reality of your brand, products, and industry. In other words, even brand stories must adhere to the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency, persistence, and simplicity. If your brand stories are inconsistent, they’ll confuse consumers who will turn away from the brand in search of another that meets their expectations. Be creative but don’t stray too far from your brand promise. Confusion and complexity are the top brand killers. Keep it simple.

Before the story can be told:

  • Discover your purpose
  • Get to the heart of the attitudes and beliefs that shape your business culture
  • Define the verbal and visual cues that identify your brand archetype and forms the foundation of your brand’s story
  • Understand what makes you stand out from the crowded market place
  • Define what problems are you solving for your audience and how your brand fits into your customers lives
  • Understand how your products and services meet your customers’ emotional needs'
  • Define the personality, tone & manner in which your brand communicates with customers, employees, partners and diverse audiences
  • Define the attributes of the key audiences segments who your brand story is targeted to and why the story of your brand matters to them.
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