19 Jan 2021
Once upon a time in a brand far, far away...
Every now and then marketing vernacular emerges that intrigues me. Brand storytelling is one. As a marketer of more than 3-decades, the question on my lips is: Is this a new phenomena?
I think not.
Sadly ….. it’s not fully understood. So how do marketers present winning arguments to boards, CFO’s and business owners about the importance of investing in a brand? Which brings me to my story I’d like to tell.
Once upon a time in a brand far, far away there lived John Deere est. 1837, Coca-Cola est. 1886, Harley Davidson est. 1901, Volvo est. 1927, RM Williams est. 1932 and some younger folk Apple est. 1976, Chanel est. 1969, you’ll see some strikingly common characteristics. These brands resonate with consumers and touch their lives in a way that can often be described in a single word.
Reliable - John Deere
Freedom - Harley-Davidson
Safe - Volvo
Timeless - RM Williams
Design - Apple
Style - Chanel
These brands consistently work on building connections with customers and they recognise that brand building is not necessarily overt and should not be measured by a single campaign, a single promotion, a single storytelling video, a refreshed logo, a blog, a new website. Above all else they concentrate on the people (not just the product) because brand storytelling is a shared responsibility between the P’s - the product, the price, the people, the promotion - these come together to create the experience which in turn positions the brand and develops the identity. Culminating in the utopia of the customer telling the story ……..
So let’s assume that the company gets its vision and mission right, now, how does the brand become a story?
Like any story, the protagonist and the characters interact in pursuit of a big idea to drive the plot. Great storytelling starts with inspiring storytelling internally. Rarely can a brand’s mythology be arbitrarily imposed by marketers single-handedly? Instead, it should come from meaningful stories that make it authentic. It should begin with honest, sincere stories that people enjoy telling and retelling.
The message is the start, but let’s not forget about the messengers. We’re all authors and each of us, as authors, help to scale the story and keep the message consistent. Thanks to the digital revolution and the explosion of social media, more than half of brand communication is peer-to-peer. Product purchase often starts with online reviews, in fact, the majority of millennials believe it is their duty to rate, review and share information about the brands they purchase.
Social word of mouth can be the greatest form of storytelling for any brand and has been shown to increase marketing effectiveness by up to 65%. Let’s not forget when brands are not being specifically talked about, they are being recorded, photographed, shared and “liked”. So companies need to arm potential influencers with more than just words and phrases, but experiences and images people will feel passionate enough to capture and send – moments that will speak for themselves without the need for words.
Companies whose brands become woven into the cultural fabric of society and their business are enduring and can become cultural icons, these brands above have mastered the art of storytelling, they nurture and respect their communities and they then perpetuate the story and help retell the tale.
My opinion only. I value yours, so feel free to leave one.