You are not the protagonist
Writing a brand story can seem frivolous, but it’s a crucial reminder of your product’s role in your customer’s everyday life.
Writing your brand story can feel like one of the more esoteric moments in crafting your positioning. Destined to stay within the confines of your brand guidelines, the more hardened and cynical amongst a company’s leadership may consider it extraneous to the process. However, it’s arguably the most important element in your strategy. The one moment in the guidelines where you fully adopt your customer’s persona and see the world through their eyes, depicting your offering only as it fits into their personal experience of life. It’s a crucial reminder that our daily obsession will only ever be a bit-part in our customers’ narratives.
Through this lens, we see clearly which messages and attributes really matter. What it is about a product or service that actually attracts notice, differentiates and creates an impression. Often it’s not what we expect.
Some of the most compelling and iconic adverts from the past century have been crafted along these narrative lines. Think about the Diet Coke ads that ran for decades. The story is as hackneyed and familiar as a fairy-tale, women perving on a sexy man while gossiping over a coffee break. The Diet Coke merely features, just as a can of soft drink merely punctuates our day-to-day lives. It’s a format that’s easy to hate; but proven to work. Pepsi’s colossal misstep with Kendall Jenner demonstrates just the opposite. By trying to artificially craft a narrative that inflates Pepsi’s status beyond where it fits in our lives, the brand came off as insincere and cynical.
There are many more examples…but the tenet remains the same: your brand story – and indeed, all brand storytelling – is most impactful when the protagonist is the customer, not the product. Why?
Because not only are many consumers tired of being sold to, there are also too many products floating around our stratosphere for any normal biped to absorb how the various features of a product genre differ. Ask anyone: why is Apple better than Samsung, or vice versa? Why choose a FitBit over a Garmin? An Audi over a BMW?
While the features of these products differ, for many customers it comes down to the most powerful drivers in purchasing: emotions. And emotions are triggered most strongly when consumers can tangibly experience how a product will make them feel. And the most potent way of letting customers experience that ahead of a purchase is through story-telling.