WITHOUT THE RIGHT GUIDELINES, MARKETERS DISH OUT THE WRONG BRAND STORY
There is a lot that goes in the recipe of creating a perfect story. One slip can make the audience lose interest and walk away. From a marketing perspective, that is the last thing a business wants. Therefore, the art of business storytelling comprises various aspects that a brand must focus on while narrating its story to its potential customers. But even then, there are moments where a brand story bombed in building a connection with its audience. For example, global fast-food restaurant chain McDonald’s had a similar experience with its famous breakfast item – The Egg McMuffin.
McDonald’s story behind their classic sandwich was based on the truth that they used freshly cracked eggs to make it. Yet, despite sharing the truth, it failed to rope in the customers to believe in their story. Why? Because it was too good to be true. Because for the customers, it was yet again a big brand making noise with what they perceived as essential for marketing and not making an effort to understand the customer.
Therefore, for brands to click with their target audience, business storytelling must follow specific unshakable guidelines to drive the maximum RO(M)I. At We-Storytellers, we have charted the five commandments of business storytelling.
THE FIVE COMMANDMENTS OF BUSINESS STORYTELLING
1. Know thyself: It all begins within. Who you are, reflects in your communication, your story. Define your persona and refine your message.
Brands need to find the motivation behind their story and define their purpose. It is a must for a brand to position itself in the minds of its audience to increase its customer base. They need to know who they are.
Let’s consider Star Sports. A leading sports broadcaster, the Star Sports network is well aware of its duty. With its massive outreach, the network has connected and built viewership for almost all games, be it domestic or international sports. Especially in the South Asian market, where the network is synonymous with cricket, they have created an experience that allows the audience to enjoy a cricket match on a personal level. Their ‘Mauka Mauka’ campaign for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup is a brilliant example. Launched in 2015, this campaign has a recurring central message that resonates with all Indians deeply on an emotional level. Star Sports knows its audience and successfully combined that knowledge with the sentiment a cricket match between India and Pakistan holds to invent a story.
2. Know thy customer: Don’t bring her flowers when she desires the solitude of a good read. Know who you need to impress, untie the blindfold. Decode their persona, understand their need, recognize their preference.
This is where the power of storytelling plays a crucial role. A brand, through its story, can influence how its customers think and behave. It can stir them emotionally and empower them. For example, Levi’s ‘When you take a step, we all move’ campaign. In this, Levi’s not only highlighted its 85 years long-standing in making women’s jeans, but also how well it knows its audience.
Being aware of the sense of expression that their target audience wants in clothing, Levi’s used its inclusivity in diversity element in an Indian environment targeting the next-generation women consumers by offering them fashion that allows them to define their individuality. Great use of the second commandment where the brand knows its customer, has decoded their persona and is aware of their preferences.
3. Thou shalt not have more than one message: You can kill many birds with one stone if you aim it right, but not one with many if your angle is skewed. Sharpen your message. Let it stand out. Let it be heard, loud and clear.
A brand story is more potent when it has a single defined central message in each piece of content created in every form. This solidifies their stance in the minds of their audience. However, bombarding customers with more than one message in a brand story makes it harder for the audience to follow, leaving them confused. Instead, relating to one central message proves beneficial as it narrows down the story for the customer leading to possible positive conversions by connection.
A strong example of a single message brand story is Apple Inc and its 1997 ‘Think Different’ campaign. The brand we now see pioneering in creating an experience par excellence for its customers wasn’t the same back then. A two-word single sharp message made them cut through the crowd and stand apart. ‘Think Different’ became a slogan that called out people who dared to quit the status quo and do things differently. Instantly, Apple emotionally connected with its audience and became a brand that inspired people to think out loud.
4. Thou shall be true to thy brand values: Your brand is your identity. Your values set you apart. Maintain the sanctity of your brand promise. Don’t play around with it.
We look for connections in the world. Even with brands, it is the same. When customers relate to a brand’s values, they align emotionally with it and eventually become loyal brand advocates. Strong brand values have the power to affect a customer’s thinking, drive actual customer engagements, and make their bond indestructible in a given market. Business stories, therefore, should not compromise on brand values.
Take Coca-Cola, for instance. It is a brand with solid values that still reigns the markets over every other soft drink company for the past 127 years. With its various campaigns, the brand tapped into simple everyday activities in a customers’ life, like feeling happy, spending time with family and friends, building relations, etc. Staying true to their brand values and identity has attracted customers worldwide, making them believe in Coca-Cola to be their partner in everyday life.
5. Thou shalt not lie to thy customer: Win the customers’ trust with authenticity and not pretense. Deception is short-lived. Know they will choose you for you and not what your competition is
As customers, we want our brand to speak the truth. Therefore, it is the responsibility of marketers to make their brand stories as transparent and authentic as possible. A brand’s honesty leads to building trust, based on which a potential customer will connect and believe in the brand. At the same time, brands have to be mindful about what is important to the audience compared to what is vital to them.
A brand that, over time has stayed authentic to the T is the leading Indian dairy cooperative, Amul. From their classic 90s ad campaign to the vivid caricatures of the Amul Girl, this brand has been aligning itself with making statements on everything trending, be it pop culture or politics. They have associated themselves with the present. Especially in their women-centric campaigns, they connected deeply with the audience. Staying true to the times has made it worthy of trust and, therefore, respect.
RISKS MARKETERS RUN OF NOT ABIDING BY THE 5 COMMANDMENTS
When used well, the five commandments are the sole ingredients that make a great brand story. However, marketers must understand the risk they run of not following the guidelines. To put it simply, failing to follow the commandments would make the marketing efforts fall flat and lose the business the RO(M)I it deserves.
- Without a defined story, a brand would not be able to build a relation with its audience.
- If a brand fails to understand their customers, they push them away to find the next best option, leading to a drop in the conversion rate.
- Refined brand messaging helps customers align with a single powerful thought or vision; however, if brands have multiple messaging, it might weaken their personality and, therefore, hold in the market.
- Not adhering to brand values would make the customers doubt and disengage with a brand.
- Honesty, authenticity, and transparency are qualities that make customers believe in a brand. Hurting their belief with pretense would only make brands lose their customer base.
Therefore, the five commandments are gospel to cook the perfect business brand story. Harnessing the power behind them will help marketers build stronger brands that know themselves, understand their audience, are clear in their message, abide by their values, and are true to the bone.
Want to master Business Storytelling?
Visit We-Storytellers now!