Authentic Brand Storytelling
As humans, we seek out captivating stories that make us feel and grab our attention. Successful brands like Disney, Google, or Nike, cultivate a fan following not solely because of their desirable products but because of the emotional brand connection they build with their customers. Brand storytelling can guide customers on a journey that inspires brand loyalty like no other if you're bold enough to take the plunge.
But what is brand storytelling, and how can it be used to craft an impactful brand narrative?
Let's explore brand storytelling and why it's important by examining three brands that have taken an unexpected, bold, and audacious approach to brand storytelling.
Brand storytelling is the art of crafting a narrative that connects your target customer with your brand's values and message. The most powerful brand stories are relatable, authentic, and evoke emotions while delivering a personalized brand experience.
The best brand storytellers use engaging visuals to draw in their audience, capture their curiosity, and make them feel connected to the brand.
But what types of stories work best?
Generally, people are influenced by authentic storytelling and real-life experiences that showcase the ups and downs of life—brands that can use these narratives to tell a story about their brand can win over potential customers.
But it's not enough to have just any story—brand storytelling should be authentic, audacious, and unexpected if you want to grab the attention—and hearts—of your target audience.
Brand storytelling is what makes your brand memorable. It's the glue that binds a brand and a customer together. And emotional connection is critical for brand loyalty.
A recent study shows that customer emotions are a key driver for brand loyalty, and it's one of the best predictors of future customer value. In fact, customers are 71% more likely to recommend brands with whom they have an emotional bond.
Strategic and skillful brand storytelling can give your brand a massive boost in brand recognition and remain one of the most meaningful and effective ways for companies to deliver consistent marketing messages across channels.
Some brands have a knack for brand storytelling. Here are three bold brands that have made a lasting impression on consumers.
It's hard not to think of Geico Insurance when you hear the words brand storytelling.
On the surface, talking about car insurance isn't exactly the most interesting topic. But Geico has used brand storytelling to flip the script and make insurance fun, unforgettable, and engaging with their comical brand. As the second-largest auto insurer in the U.S. and one of the largest homeowner insurers, Geico has leveraged the power of storytelling to communicate value and brand recognition. It's been so successful that the brand is now synonymous with car insurance.
From the brand's beloved gecko mascot to its eccentric caveman characters, Geico has a way of putting brand storytelling in the driver's seat. Through fun marketing campaigns, Geico encourages customers to have a carefree approach toward a traditionally "boring" purchase and helps them recognize the value of paying less.
Warby Parker has made a big splash in the eyewear industry. The brand has leveraged storytelling to build brand recognition as a fashionable yet affordable online eyewear brand.
Warby Parker was founded not to transform prescription eyewear, but to solve a simple problem—how to make glasses more affordable. The brand's founders set out to create a brand that embodied the values of convenience, transparency, and ethics that customers could identify with.
The brand has used brand storytelling to make buying eyewear fun and easy. This is communicated in the unpretentious copywriting on its website, the simple messaging on its social channels, and even in its ads. Their 2018 ad was straightforward—a story explaining how glasses are made.
Why did it work?
Warby Parker focused on a simple approach to connecting people with affordable, designer-quality eyewear delivered straigth to their doorstep. Through brand storytelling, Warby Parker showcases their people and their commitment to high-quality glasses without a high price tag. This has led to tremendous brand loyalty—with 5.1% sales growth in 2022—and growth as a company, with 201 brick-and-mortar stores, and 40 more new stores opening soon.
One of the most significant product launches of all time has to be the Apple Macintosh with Apple's 1984 commercial. It aired only once during the Super Bowl and was so audacious and thought-provoking that people still talk about it today.
The brand's iconic ad depicted a dystopian future in which people mindlessly follow a leader's words on a screen—until an athletic woman sweeps in and throws a sledgehammer at the screen—symbolically freeing us from the clutches of conformity.
But this take on George Orwell's dystopian novel wasn't just a daring brand statement. Apple used brand storytelling to communicate its core value of presenting itself as a revolutionary brand that stands for design, innovation, and individualism. By taking such a risky approach to storytelling, Apple was able to capture attention to their brand being more than just "different" but revolutionary.
In 2010, Old Spice had a brand image problem—it was seen as an outdated brand that only appealed to older men. But with a brand storytelling approach worthy of its own movie, Old Spice was able to turn that perception around and become the brand for men that women love—and men aspire to be.
How'd they approach a new way to convey their image?
The secret weapon was customer research. They found that 60% of body wash purchases were made by women. Rather than appeal to younger men directly, Old Spice went straight to the source and created a campaign that started a conversation between couples about body wash, encouraging women to stop buying "lady-scented products" for their men.
Old Spice's "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign was funny, campy, and engaging, and it transformed Old Spice from a brand with an image problem to one of the top campaigns of the 21st century. They used brand storytelling to show that Old Spice is for the modern generation, not just the brand that grandpa used to buy.
Incorporating brand storytelling into your marketing strategy is a smart way to stay competitive and strengthen your brand image. But, it takes time to perfect and integrate into your marketing plan. Here are some of the basics to get you started.
To develop a great brand story, you need to outline what message you want to convey, what emotions you want your audience to feel, and what action you want them to take. Goals might include revenue growth, reaching new customers, or simply brand awareness. Use a branding questionnaire to lay out your brand goals.
A brand's story is often rooted in its past, so consider how certain events in your company's history brought you to where you are today. Think about why your company was created. What's the vision? What are your brand's core values? How was it founded? What are some of your challenges and successes? Each of these interesting facts can help you tell your brand's story in an authentic way.
One of the most popular templates for brand storytelling to guide an audience is The Hero's Journey. This method takes an audience through a story and brings the "hero" through an adventure with a conclusion or reward. This type of storytelling follows an emotional arc that is memorable, exciting, and sometimes inspiring.
Your brand personality might be traditional, spunky, innovative, creative, or something else. Whatever it is, embrace it. Finding your brand personality is about putting a human touch on what defines your brand. Establishing brand personality is essential for brand storytelling because it'll help you decide how to express your brand in a tone that connects with your customers and create consistency throughout all your marketing channels.
Think about one sentence that captures your brand purpose, values, and goals. This should be the foundation of all brand storytelling that you do. It should reflect what your brand stands for, why it exists, and how it aspires to make customers' lives better.
Once you've defined all these elements, it's time to create your brand story. Use a storytelling format and narrate the journey of your brand. Consider using an omnichannel storytelling approach to bring your brand story to life. Touch on the challenges of your customers, their needs, and your mission.
Good stories surprise us. They make us think and feel. They stick in our minds and help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that a PowerPoint crammed with bar graphs never can.
—Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow, The Storytelling Edge
Ready to take the plunge into brand storytelling? Use the ideas from the examples above to craft your own brand storytelling strategy. Develop a foundational brand story that outlines where you've been, why your brand exists, and what sets you apart from the competition. Find stories and experiences that are meaningful to your customers and try to solve their problems memorably. Ultimately, let the story be your guide, and product sales will follow.
Not sure how to get started? Research and brand strategy are kind of our thing, so if you have any questions or are interested in seeing what our team can do for your brand, we're here to chat.