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The essential brand story

Jan 21, 2019
Not just the pastime of authors, film-makers and fantasists, storytelling is in fact a vital tool for every business. It’s what sets you apart, connects you with the consumer, and makes you more than a mere commodity – which is essential in today’s crowded market. In many cases, a company’s product or service is where their offering begins and ends. It’s the businesses that go beyond this who make the biggest impact. In thinking past function or utility and into the real character or distinction of their brand, a company can introduce emotion alongside information – a key factor in achieving consumer action and loyalty. As New York Times bestselling author Harrison Monarth points out:

Harrison Monarth New York Times

Clearly, the human in us cannot be discounted in marketing. Features, specifications and value for money will only take you so far, but when it comes to creating a lasting connection, it’s the story you tell that really makes the difference. It’s part of what gives an organisation a human feel, which has never been more valued by the consumer. Alan Schulman, Chief Creative Officer at Deloitte Digital, recently spoke to Ad Age on this very topic, stating that:

new-schulman-image

When we take a look at the brands who boast the most engaging stories, seven common traits become apparent that make them such a success with consumers. At inception or positioning stage, they’re often brands that offer a clearly defined solution to a problem – such as Toms. Rather than focusing on a problem at consumer level, they looked to solve a wider worldwide issue – donating shoes to children in need for every pair they sell. This ticks another brand story box too – do good – which is why so many companies add an extra level of narrative to their identity with CSR initiatives.

From Toms, we move to a brand that has arguably created the greatest story ever told – Apple. The identity they’ve carved has resulted in an army of followers so loyal they wouldn’t dream of using any other product. Many elements have resulted in this, including their visible founder Steve Jobs, and their overall mission to ‘think differently.’

The final traits are best exemplified by travel megabrand Airbnb. They’ve redefined the travel experience with their host accommodation service – and while many love this new way of exploring the world, there are the hotel purists, meaning they also carry real disruptor status.

We’ve established which features are indicative of effective brand narrative – but how do they go about communicating this to their audience? This is a question that offers multiple answers, as every element of a company identity works to tell the story in a different way. Textual choices are important, but it’s not only the job of the words. The type and form of content is key – as is the channel you choose to promote this through. Visual features like logo, colours and fonts also play a key role.

But what should never be underestimated in brand storytelling is audio. In combining copy, voice and music, sound tells a story on multiple levels – so the message gets through to the listener more memorably and meaningfully. Since time began, humans have communicated through storytelling – and today, it’s a vital method of brand communication too. By defining your story, you’ll carve out an identity that won’t be forgotten.