Customers own the story of your brand now. What your brand says is far less important than what your brand actually does to deserve the loyalty of the faithful.
Marketing conversations, once based on interruption, are now participatory in ever more mobile-driven platforms and social media channels.
Storytelling is at the very heart of how we humans share and connect what we value about our heritage, our communities and ourselves. Brand storytelling is about connecting the outer value your brand to the inner values of your customer. There must be a deep affinity between the two or the relationship is nothing more than a low value transaction.
The foundation for this affinity is built on the shared stories between brands to consumers, customers to brands, and consumers to consumers. Like all relationships, there has to be lots of chemistry. Brands have it or they don’t. How well these collective stories align with the experience customers have is what creates “insistence without substitutes” in the minds of loyal customers.
Brand storytelling is a strategic imperative not a promotional tactic.
Many business owners confuse the two. In our strategic brand storytelling workshop, I’ve heard many marketers complain, “We just don’t know what our brand story is about”. Or worse, “no one seems to get what our brand story is about”. Seemingly ubiquitous marketing obscures the transcendent story line of what makes a brand matter to people.
There are three drivers of a brand storytelling strategy– purpose, method and opportunity. These drivers work in parallel with stories customers tell to the tribe and stories you tell to the tribe.
We live in a marketplace characterized by participation, interaction and dialogue. For enlightened brand marketers, brand storytelling is a powerful means to build enduring connections.
Your brand must have a storytelling strategy anchored in a human purpose rather than a commercial one. Let’s explore how these drivers work from both the brand and the customer perspective:
The most basic purpose or reason for brands to tell their story is to create or reinforce the brand’s positioning and competitive advantage. For customers, the motivation or purpose to tell brand stories comes from a desire to share ideas and experiences as an aficionado of the brand’s core purpose. In other words, the strategic purpose of the brand story is based in resonance and relevance to the customer’s deeper needs or desires.
Brands have a multitude of methods and media channels to tell their story. The audience now is hyper-fragmented with ever shorter attention spans, and the method for storytelling is less about media and more about real engagement. Customers too, have more methods available through social media channels to share their brand stories. This means is the brand’s story is now a shared experience, with both brand and customer contributing to each other in a more real and meaningful manner.
The opportunity for brands to tell stories are varied and diverse. Storytelling creates awareness to product innovations and important events on one hand, to more difficult issues and public relations disasters on the other. Brands can be proactive or reactive in this regard. For customers, the opportunity for storytelling, by their own initiative, is also driven by good or bad news about their own brand experiences. Transparency is the order of the day now. Enlightened business owners realize they must provide the venue for inviting customers to share their experiences and tell their stories.
If you’re a business owners in the process of inventing or transforming your brand’s positioning, strategic brand storytelling will be a critical component to building an enduring connection with your customers and supports your competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Your strategy for creating a compelling brand story will be driven by your brand’s purpose, the level of brand engagement, and the ability to leverage events and circumstances around the customer experience.
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