How to Strengthen Brand Identity Through Storytelling
When brands tell well-crafted stories to clarify their message, it incites behavioral, cognitive, and emotional responses which drive action. Through stories, customers gain clarity from disparate experiences, ascribe a cohesive purpose to their actions, and attribute value to their decisions. Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to convey brand values since people buy with emotion first and justify their decisions with logic later.
Importance of a Brand Story
A brand’s story is expressed through every touchpoint in the consumer journey and is usually strategic or tactical. Strategic stories clarify a brand’s core vision, purpose, values, and relationships. The strategic story provides a central mission or meaning for a brand’s tribe and explains how its philosophy and service fulfill a unique niche. Furthermore, corporate storytelling and aligning company culture to match your brand identity creates community within the company and reinforces the interdependence of culture and brand. The tactical story is told through commercials, videos, websites, social media, and other means of short-term communication. These stories change often by shifting political, social, and environmental changes to maintain relevance and serve current needs.
Two Main Approaches
Within tactical stories, two approaches include the customer-centric tactical brand story and the company-centric tactical story. In company-centric tactical stories, brand value is created by positioning brand employees as heroes while consumers are protagonists in their own lives who achieve personal goals through buying into the brand. This type of communication posits that marketers are in control of how the brand is perceived, and find the origin of the story within the company. Brand values are distributed through employees, which facilitates the buy-in of consumers. In customer-centric tactical stories, brands endeavor to understand their customers’ life experiences and inner worlds to create stories that cater to their target audience. In these stories, customers are the heroes and origin of stories, and the brand identity is strengthened through their adaptations of it. This type of story is particularly effective for service brands whose product is intangible, complex, and time-bound. This philosophy emphasizes the co-creation of stories by consumers and marketers.
An essential element to crafting a story that connects is authenticity. Authenticity includes consumers’ perception of whether a brand is consistent (continuity), follows through on its promises (credibility), is motivated by caring and responsibility (integrity), and can support consumers in their pursuit of identity and authenticity (symbolism). Authenticity is not an inherent quality but is created through the projection of the consumer’s beliefs and expectations of an authentic brand, as well as how much the brand helps to connect them to the real world and their real selves. Thus reproductions such as the VW Beetle and tourist settings such as Disneyland can represent commercially fabricated authenticity.
An authentic story fulfills a consumer’s psychological needs while the product itself fulfills functional value. Stories should include how a brand can solve consumers’ problems and free them from the negative emotions associated with their issues, as well as what intangible benefits are gained through the consumption of brand goods. Meeting one of these seven criteria strongly will increase the chances of a story capturing attention: thought-provoking, novel, informative, inspiring, exceptionally relevant, humorous, or awe-inspiring.
Using Literature as a Guideline
The seven basic plots in literature can also serve as a guide for your brand’s story, which should include a plot with conflict and resolution, characters, and purpose. Possible storylines include rags to riches (the underdog becomes the protagonist), rebirth (the protagonist spontaneously reinvents themself), the quest (the protagonist accomplishes something or gains “treasure” after a long journey), overcoming the monster (the protagonists defeats an evil force), tragedy (the protagonist’s struggles reveal the dark side of humanity), comedy (the protagonists provide joy and relief), and voyage and return (the protagonist learns to see life from a different perspective).
A brand’s unique story is something competitors cannot imitate, and the practice of storytelling is indispensable in creating a memorable brand and strong brand identity. Through centering authenticity, adaptability, and creativity, brands can connect with customers on a deeper level and ensure longevity. If you want to take your brand’s storytelling to the next level, reach out to iCatch for a FREE consultation on how we can help.