Brand Stories: What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?
Storytelling is integral to brands because, as part of our oral tradition, it reduces product narrative to its core elements. From a brand perspective, the challenge is to leverage the organic product, company, employee and customer stories that are part of their history and DNA and keep them going over time. These stories can be embellished and allowed to evolve without harming the brand.
What do you want your brand remembered for?
Stories help solidify specific brand attributes in the mind of your consumers because your audience can remember the tale’s core elements. Trout and Ries referred to this as positioning. In today’s social media world where stories are at the heart of communications, you have to position your brand across a variety of attributes and ensure that they are infused with your story.
5 Brand story archetypes
- Passionate enthusiast. These brands grow out of the founder’s love for a product or desire to solve a problem for others using a product. It’s often hobby related. Focused on knitting, crocheting and spinning, Ravelry, a niche social media site, was developed by a husband (Casey) and wife (Jessica) team looking to simplify information and pattern discovery.
- Inspired inventor. These products and brands are created by an individual who has a vision for product people need but don’t necessarily know they do. Steve Jobs and the iPhone epitomize this brand story.
- Smart listener. In this case, the entrepreneur offers a solution for his audience based on their feedback. Peter Shankman’s HARO (aka Help a Reporter Out) is an example (and worth checking out if you’ re interested in getting press attention.) Members of the press often contacted Peter with strange requests. In turn, Peter would put them in contact with appropriate resource in his network, not just his clients. He moved this model to Facebook and then to its own website when it got too big for Facebook.
- Likeable hero. How classic is the fact that everyone wants for the nice guy to succeed. Soft-spoken Matt Mullenweg, WordPress’ founder, is known as an all around great guy. He’s embraced the open source business model with another company, Automatic, that offers companion products and services built around the free WordPress software.
- Little guy versus big guy. This is the biblical David and Goliath story. While the first example that comes to you as you read this on an Apple device is probably Mac versus PC, as a New Yorker, I suggest Shake Shack versus McDonalds. With round-the-block lines, Shake Shack is the gourmet version of American fast food—hot dogs and frozen custard—that’s worth the wait and the expense.
Don’t forget your customers’ stories
To enhance and augment their story, brands can draw on their customers’ tales. Often these take the form of testimonials. Although with expanded use of social media, they can appear as comments, social sharing, reviews, long posts, photographs, videos and audios. As a marketer, it’s your job to integrate these personal vignettes into your overarching story.
Using these brand stories are important to marketing because they enhance the products we own and make them special. You may not think twice about the dishes you use but if those dishes were handmade by someone you knew or you bought them on a trip abroad you might feel differently about them because you have a story to tell.
What types of story have you created for your brand and how effective has it been?
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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncindc/2855612750/