Brand Storytelling: Connecting On The Values Level

Thomson DawsonAugust 23, 20122854 min

Brand Storytelling: Connecting On The Values Level

What if your brand messaging and marketing communications activities where centered in resonance with your customers personal story. In other words, what if your customers connected more deeply to their own personal story as a result of your brand story.

Brands that represent deeply shared values with their target audience always do this in a natural, organic way. Their customers don’t perceive the story as marketing, but rather as a welcome outreach–like getting a thoughtful card from a good friend. If your research shows a disconnect with your target audience, chances are your brand messaging is not an embedded component of the customers own personal story.

In today’s meta-crowded marketplace, the sounds of marketing have now become white noise. Marketing has become nothing more than low-level static in the air. You sense it lurking, but you pay no attention to it. Most marketing communication is nothing more than background noise. It’s near impossible for me-too brands to break though and earn customer attention, action, and advocacy. In every product category, ubiquitous choice is accelerating the pace of commoditization. More ad campaigns just add to the noise.

How Enduring Brands Break Out Of The White Noise

Of course, what separates an enduring brand from the rest is it’s capability to break out and earn trusted engagement from the target audience. This is only accomplished through relevance and meaning. Relevance and meaning are always anchored in shared values.

Shared values put the message and audience in a state of resonance. Resonance embodies trust. Trust guarantees engagement and advocacy. It’s a “hip bone is connected to the leg bone” sort of thing.

The most effective and efficient tool for creating relevance for your brand is to ensure your brand plays a staring role in your target audience’s personal story. Marketers should be spending their creative energies knowing the audience and their story narratives intimately and how their brand authentically fits into that story. Yet in the day-to-day world of tactics, promotions, price discounting, and one-upping competitors, marketers are more interested in laminating their brand story on to the target customers. This is why so much marketing is simply ignored.

Like attracts like. If our stories are aligned, chances are we are sharing our experiences and preferences together. We share our commonalities. There is no difference between how people create and maintain relationships and how brands do it. Brands are simply a symbol or badge that connects the tribe to a shared ideal.

To cement the bond between brand story and customer story requires the alignment (or true north) of the brand to be centered in shared values and ideals. Brand stories can only be relevant and resonant when:

– Brand and audience share a common purpose. The fundamental reason the brand exists (beyond exchanging money) is the same for the audience.
– The audience cares deeply about the brand’s most compelling differentiator.
– The brand shares personality attributes with the target audience.
– The brand’s “oneliness” is credible, believable and trusted by the audience.

The Importance Of Archetypes In Brand Storytelling

Through the ages, all stories have been based in archetypes. To tell stories that impact the mind of the audience, storytellers introduce the role of archetypes and metaphors. All transcendent stories have compelling characters. Carl Jung showed us that they are a set of common characters universally understood and recognized. More importantly, these characters had story narratives they always followed. These characters are known as archetypes. Some examples of archetypes are the Hero, Jester, Magician, Sage and Guardian. All archetypes have a defined personality. In context to brand storytelling, these common archetypes can be translated into the components that define or personify a brands personality. Audiences recognize these brand personalities because the archetypes themselves are universally recognized.

Enlightened marketers understand their audiences and the how their brands will be incorporated as part of their personal journey or story.

Enduring brands have a personality that fits perfectly into the customer’s story narrative. When brand owners get this idea, the effort (and the financial resources) to communicate the brand personality is always significantly less than for brands who mean little to everyone and matter to no one. If you study the brands that build uncommon relevance and resonance, you’ll recognize them as brands that created massive marketplace success with little need for or reliance on mass advertising. Brands like Zappos, Starbucks (at the beginning), Facebook, Disney, Wegman’s, Virgin America, Harley Davidson, Patagonia, IKEA, Louis Vuitton, Dom Perignon, Method, Fox News, Amazon and of course Apple have all mastered this principle. These brands are based on shared experiences.

In fact these brands, and others like them, owe much of their enduring marketplace success to customer word of mouth communication. Least we forget word of mouth is nothing more than a form of storytelling. All of us share these little stories daily with each other. We will incorporate the stories of relevant brands into our own stories but only when the stories that are worthy of telling.

Building your brand story narrative based on archetypes allows your audience to both recognize and understand why your brand matters, and to re-tell it through the narrative of their own personal story.

The Blake Project Can Help: The Strategic Brand Storytelling Workshop

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Thomson Dawson

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