By Yumna Aysen, Cape Town-based business coach
If you want to build a successful business, having a strong brand story should be a key priority as it helps people connect to your brand and creates customer loyalty.
But first things first. What is a brand story? The history of a brand is a significant part of the brand story, but it isn’t all of it. According to Echo Stories, “A brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by your brand (or business, if you prefer). Unlike traditional advertising, which is about showing and telling about your brand, a story must inspire an emotional reaction.”
“Brand story” may just sound like a new corporate buzzword, but it has become more important as customer behaviour has changed. These days, customers look for, and have loyalty for companies that are authentic, that have their best interests at heart and have a more tailored or personalised approach to how they conduct business.
If a brand has a story, which is communicated in a clear and cohesive way, then it makes it far easier for customers to get behind the brand. Customers are humans after all, and are more likely to pick a product from a company that inspires some sort of emotion, rather than from a business with no personality.
Take the example of two companies selling shoes. On its website and social media platforms, Company A shares the history of the brand, tells us about the people who make the shoes, why its shoes are so good and what the company mission is. This is communicated in different ways – via a company catchphrase, via the pictures used on the website, via the ‘About Us’ section – but the overall sentiment is woven into all brand communication, and is alluded to at all customer touchpoints.
Company B, on the other hand, simply lists its shoes for sale, without any reference to heritage or values or mission. The chances are very good that Company A will make a much more meaningful impression on potential customers.
So what do you need to think about when you set out to create your brand story? Firstly, you need to integrate the core values and heritage of your business with a strong story of your WHY — the reason why your business exists and the difference it intends to make to the people it serves.
Shopify, one of the world’s most popular e-commerce platforms, also lists these components of a solid brand story:
– Understanding your product
– Understanding your audience
– Being consistent
This strong messaging enables ‘humanises’ businesses, which in turn helps create strong relationships with customers and builds emotional engagement. Your success at doing this will influence whether customers decide to choose your company over your competitor. People will choose to engage with genuine brands – those that don’t just treat them as another number, but rather treat them as a human being.
With a fast-changing world, my clients have asked also whether a brand story should change over time. I advise that you should track your customers closely — note how they are evolving and how their needs are changing and adjust your story accordingly. But – and this is key – never forget the foundation and the core of what makes your brand unforgettable.