Branding 101: Creating A Narrative (Story)

Get Results: storytelling is the oldest form of education
Get Results: storytelling is the oldest form of education

Narrative or story is the most important part of branding.

The power of story is what will differentiate you.

Branding at its heart is about storytelling.

Use story to set you apart from competition, our story is what defines us as humans.

Digress from business to take time to create story, which should always be personal.

Brand as the mechanism of choice, a mechanism which is so powerful that it achieves a brilliant quadruplewhammy!

  1. It allows the particular product or service to stand out so far from all other competitors that they almost cease to exist in any effective sense.
  2. It allows the particular product or service to charge a premium which actually makes it more, rather than less, appealing to the customer.
  3. It allows the company concerned to continue to develop in its own individual way, pursuing even greater individuality and distinctiveness (putting ever greater stretches of clear blue water between itself and its competitors).
  4. It doesn’t just provide the customer with a satisfying purchase and experience. It doesn’t just provide the rather prosaic quality of ‘peace-of-mind’. It goes beyond this to provide a deep-rooted sense of having found a ‘story’ which satisfies a human yearning for things to make sense. For hope as well as reassurance. For a sense of belonging, pride, enjoyment in participation. And so on. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is all getting a little too ‘poetic’. This is how brands work. This is what will make your brand a success.

Brands find their way into your head/heart through their story.

    • Spotify A friend nagged me about Spotify for weeks. Telling me about the vastness of the library and the strange pleasure of being able to listen to half-forgotten or never-heard-before music without having to put your hand in your pocket. Spotify, he said, was a kind of musical adventure. I resisted. Until another music-fan friend said the same thing. I tried it out. I’m hooked. I now tell others, all the time. The story goes on being spread.
    • Apple, arguably the greatest modern storytellers of all. Way back when the Mac was touted as ‘the computer for the rest of us’. In other words, the computer for the non-geek, the computer that would set you free from technical gobbledegook. The computer equivalent of the Volkswagen. Great opening story, but one which became harder to believe as Apple struggled with loss of identity in its middle period. When I bought my first Mac in 1993 I was told Apple would soon be out of business. They had lost the plot and were doomed. But, lo and behold, they turn disaster into triumph. Founder Steve Jobs returns and, with a British designer, creates the paradigm-shifting iMac (remember the first ones in bright colours, looking like the 1950s meeting the 22nd century in a big bang of delicious and shocking design?). And 20 years later they are still the zenith of design brilliance. No other computer manufacturer comes even close in aesthetic and mystery. And in the sheer devotion of their customers. I described myself earlier as a Mac user. That’s what we call ourselves. But user is an inadequate word. A better one would be devotee.

Take 4 of favourite brands and tell their story as if telling a friend. Now write your story. Your journey, your passion, your trials and tribulations, your triumphs, your why. Embellish, romanticise. Remember people love stories.

All you need to make a story is somebody doing something, that means something.

  • Where you business opens is a story
  • The person who opens your door is a story. They either support your brand or undermine it
  • How a person opens your door is a story
  • What your door looks like is a story

Here are some stories you want to tell over and over again:

  • Your own story as boss How did you get here? Do you personally carry the values that your brand is about? Whatever your experience that gives you the credibility to be running your business, tell it as a story, so it will spread.
  • Your company’s story Your staff and customers all need to know what your company’s story is. Fill the gap between the original idea and where you have got to for your people — take them on that journey, so they feel they’re in a story that matters.
  • Stories you tell your people When you talk to your staff, they will pick up clues about what you want to see more of, and what behaviours you’re discouraging.
  • Stories your people tell customers To the public, no one knows what’s really going on in your organization better than your staff. They’ve got the inside knowledge. The small conversations that happen between staff and customers can create loyalty or drive customers away.
  • Stories customers tell each other We all know word of mouth is the best kind of advertising. Stories about customer experiences are difficult to override — they are hugely believable.
  • Stories customers tell themselves Customers are already telling themselves stories — about who they are, what they deserve and what they want. The better your company knows its customers, the more likely you are to be able to step in and create the experience they’re looking for.
  • Stories that will change old ideas Reputations can be difficult to shift, but if you can create an experience to directly contradict the old stories, gossip-mongers will lose confidence in them, and begin thinking of you in a new light, which they will spread.

Branding 101