A brand is a promise that a business makes to its customers. You can find this definition littered across the internet, but it doesn't tell you exactly what that promise should be. Brand promises are crafted through their stories. Brand stories try to communicate the brand's worth to consumers in a noninvasive way, which allows the potential buyer to connect and form a relationship with the brand. Today, many brands see the brand story as a way to humanize their corporate face so that consumers feel more comfortable with them.
Building a brand story requires a professional to focus on the audience rather than the product. The company already knows in great detail what the product does and how it benefits the consumer. The brand story tries to communicate that to the buyer, while at the same time making the story focus on the customer. The process of changing a brand story from a business-centric model to a consumer-centric model requires a lot of skill.
These professionals from Ad Age Collective have learned how to present the brand story best to engage customers and build a rapport. We asked them what things a company should be mindful of when developing their brand story into a compelling narrative. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Be authentic and consistent.
Be authentic, period. A majority of consumers, especially the younger generations, demand it as they want to feel inspired, to have an honest connection and be part of a like-minded community. Avoid inconsistencies between your image of the brand and its reality, as it will have a material impact on brand perception and equity. - Kurt Kaufer, Ad Results Media
2. Think more about hearing it than saying it.
You want your brand story to say certain things about your company and you are going to put a lot of thought into that. Put a similar amount of energy into understanding how your target personas are going to hear the story and the emotions that it will elicit. The recent Peloton ad that raised some controversy is an example of a story that was heard differently by some than was anticipated. - Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
3. Be honest about who you are.
Another way of putting it is to be genuine. Your brand should be an extension of the honest truth about who you are, what you stand for and your reason for being. And it should connect logically and emotionally with a need or value you and your constituents share. - Todd Morgano, Falls Communications
4. Humanize the brand.
A brand needs to have a personality and something to resonate with. If you can give your brand innate human characteristics that people can relate to, they will feel more drawn to the brand naturally without even knowing why it is so compelling. - Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
5. Find balance between what matters and what's true.
A compelling brand story must converge on the epicenter of three components: It must be culturally relevant, emotionally compelling and built on something true to the brand and organization. Brands must balance stories that matter with their ability to be true to the story. - Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive
6. Elicit an emotional response.
A product doesn’t become a brand until it is connected with feelings, experiences, memories or utility in a person’s mind. A brand is an emotional connection built over time to which consumers default, especially when choosing among products with similar attributes. Your brand story must elicit emotion and be sustainable to create consumer connections that withstand the test of time. - Sean Cunningham, VAB
7. Know your brand's natural persona.
Every brand has its own natural persona. Authenticity comes from knowing the persona clearly, being consistent and comfortable with it. Connecting to why a brand exists adds purpose that resonates with the customer emotions. The blending of authenticity and purposefulness creates long-term feeling equity, which is essential for meaningful connection. In the end, we are all in the feeling business. - Arjun Sen, ZenMango
8. Be relatable and purpose-driven.
It may be overused, but starting with the "why" is the foundation of a compelling brand story. No one cares about your products, what they do or what you're selling until they care about you! A brand story that has a strong "why" will always win, because people like to do business with those that share their innate values. The more relatable you are, the more people will care. - Patrick Ward, Rootstrap