Since generations, stories have stayed with us and travelled in parallel with the evolving human race. There’s no doubt that stories posses an eternal power to influence and inspire.
In business, the core objective of all marketing activities circle around the intensity and power of persuasion. Stories help the brands to persuade effectively and audiences to connect better.
In a time where emotional marketing is progressively becoming a strategy, brand story has become a currency to build stronger bonds with their audience. Every time a customer purchases a product, he lives a part of the story along with it.
The meaning and purpose of a brand story
A brand story is a cohesive narrative that takes into account all the facts and feelings that are created by a brand. Unlike traditional advertising, a story inspires an emotional chord which is more than just showing and communicating informative facts to promote the brand.
India being a land of rich history and culture has been preserving its past in the form of epics, myths and tales. In India, storytelling has been a popular tool for the communication of thoughts and ideas.
Story is the simplest form of communication that allows easy decoding of words into meaningful visuals in the mind. While listening to the narrative, the human brain gets activated and synchronises with the brain of the narrator to visualise the event.
Story is the connection between cause and effect. The human brain has the tendency to look for the cause and effect relationship of something that the listener has previously experienced. Therefore, any brand story that relates to the existing experience of the audience enables a deeper connection between the brand and the audience.
Storytelling is the fundamental tool for learning in schools which develops the cognitive thinking skills of the students. Similarly, a brand story accelerates the output of all the marketing activities in business by captivating the audience.
Why a brand story works in marketing and branding?
Brand story is compelling
A brand story is capable of grabbing attention of the audience, arousing their emotions, stimulate their learning, and persuade them to take action. Stories are the simplest form of communication that are easy to engage and convince people.
Brand story creates a meaningful bond
A story allows the audience to visualise and experience a situation they can resonate themselves with. It takes them through an emotional journey which helps them to connect better with a brand while associating themselves with the story.
Disney’s strategy involves reverse marketing where the storytelling takes place before the launch of a product. According to an Interview of Disney’s CEO, Robert Iger, conducted by Forbes, brand story has been a key for profitable marketing for Disney.
Disney stories displays a very unconventional fantasy that highly attract kids and teenagers. The target audience majorly comprising of school going children, feel fascinated and deeply connected to the characters and the story. This has helped Disney in forming a strong bond with the audience and enhance the sales of their products.
Brand story helps in better recall and retention
An emotional connection with a story establishes a long term impact in the audiences’ mind. Consequently, the memorability of such brands and brand stories is much higher as compared to the ones that just feature factual information making it difficult for the audience to remember and retain the message.
Possessing a house in India is a lifetime investment for most of the people. One of the Amazon India commercial shows a young couple possessing a house and creating a garden in the house by ordering most of the stuff from Amazon. Most of the Amazon commercials are around the concept ‘Apni dukaan’ — a common term used for a local general store in the locality from where you can access most of your regular needs. Such stories are common to all the Indians and thus are easy to remember.
Brand story generates loyalty
When the audience experiences an emotional connection with a brand, it automatically results in building up trust and loyalty. Certain brands don’t just tell a story but take it forward with the agenda of occupying the audiences’ mental and emotional space. This is done by making a brand promise through a story and conveying that the brand values its customers the most.
Samsung came up with a commercial that portrayed its dedication in delivering effective customer service. It shows how the customer service executive travels through unconventional paths to reach a remotely located destination to repair a TV in a blind children’s home.
Becoming the most watched commercial in 2017, the story enhanced the trust of the people and made it being perceived as a reliable brand with the best customer experience.
Brand story shapes the reason for a brand’s existence
A brand story can be more than a tool to persuade the target market to purchase the product or service. Many a times, a brand story weaves a story around a brand’s value proposition, its beliefs and ethics. This serves as an inspiration for the entire organisation.
Each employee imbibes the same values and ethics that an organisation abides itself by. A collectively empowered team of employees is determined to work towards achieving a common goal while visualising the future growth and success of the brand.
What constitutes to a good brand story?
The difference between a commodity and a brand lies in its differentiation. A story communicates that differentiation very effectively. A story which is completely built on strong values, beliefs, ethics and integrity makes a brand keep moving on.
Nutrilite, a product of Amway is a brand that was formed keeping in mind the core values of humanity. Apart from offering nutritional values in its products, Nutrilite sticks to organic and sustainable methods of business operations.
Nutrilite promoted its products by showing its practices from ‘seed to supplement’ in a brand story through a series of commercials in early 2017. Hence, brand stories like that of Nutrilite have been able to effectively persuade the audience to buy their products.
Why a brand story must have an emotional appeal?
Although buying a product based on its quality, price and features is a more pragmatic way of making a wise buying decision. Nevertheless, it’s obvious that humans are emotional creatures. According to several studies(study) conducted in the past years, it is proven that buying decisions are made based on emotions.
Here’s a statistical crux of the entire study:
- 92 percent of the consumers want to hear stories
- 90 percent people rely more on emotions rather than information to make brand decisions
- Emotional appeal acts as a component of the story that makes the audience trust the brand more
Tanishq, a popular jewellery brand by TATA taps on the emotional attachment that people experience within their families.
One of the commercial staring Deepika Padukone shows the relationship of a daughter with her mother, which never changes no matter what a girl becomes in her life. Showing the bitter-sweet relationship experienced by every woman with her mother constructed a thread of emotional connection of the brand with the audience.
How to position your brand with a brand story?
Majorly, a brand story is vital to strengthen the leadership of a brand and command the purchase decisions of the target group in its favour. A brand story is important for the following reasons:
- Enhancing the memorability and desire of the target group to choose your brand over others
- Positioning you as a strong brand
- Making the target group hugely responsive to your actions
Hero Honda has been one of the most successful joint ventures in the Indian history. Since the partnership of Hero and Honda in 1984, Indian audience had developed immense trust in the brand and its products.
Hero, the largest two-wheeler manufacturer in India dissolved its partnership with Honda in 2010. The new entity Hero MotoCorp gave itself a new identity. To establish the same level of trust and loyalty of the Indian customers in the brand, Hero MotoCorp came up with commercials where the customer was depicted as the hero of the story. It became an important part of its positioning.
This brand story has preserved and nurtured the relationship of the brand with its customers. Similarly, Nutrilite positions itself with the tagline ‘Best of nature, Best of science’ which stresses on delivering safe and quality products by measuring the integrity of its processes.
Read here how Hero made the customers the hero of their story.
Takeaway – A brand story is by far the most effective tool to gain customers’ mind share
A brand story reflects the wider vision of a company that helps in aligning the brand strategy to achieve desired goals. Thus, by communicating the vision, brands enable their customers to understand them better.
As stories are easy to remember and communicate without any loss of information, a brand story is the most effective way of being at the top of the customers’ mind.