This is the final part of our brand storytelling blog series, and we’re looking into how your brand storytelling can be used to support your advocacy strategy.
We already went through how to build up your brand image using effective brand storytelling, and provided examples of top five commercials that have memorable brand storytelling.
With this final piece to round up our investigation, we’re going into how prioritizing certain elements within brand storytelling can convert current customers into supportive advocates:
- Consistency and authenticity
- Knowing your audience
- Communicate the problem you solve
- Connect with your community
Essential elements of brand storytelling
Consistency and authenticity
Now this may sound like an easy starting point, but it’s probably the most vital element to brand storytelling, because audiences are quick to pick up on when a brand is being inauthentic or inconsistent with their messaging.
There are some steps that you can take to ensure you’re remaining authentic to your brand:
1- Know why you exist
Having an intimate knowledge of why your company exists is vital, because this is what you’re trying to communicate from the get-go.
Companies most often come about because there’s a gap in the market that they know they can fill. In other words, companies exist to solve a problem for their clients, and this must be communicated effectively to ensure you’re targeting the right people with your messaging.
2- Understand your own journey
Every company starts small, but aims to become established within its chosen industry. And it’s important that your customers know your company’s journey.
Those early days of small teams and offices are an authentic part of your story, and one that customers will be interested in. Show them how an idea became a brand, and they’ll better understand how your brand came into being.
Being transparent about your brand growth story can help eliminate the danger of coming across as inconsistent in your brand messaging. If you have customers that have been with you since you were a start-up, without a clear story showcasing your developments, it may be tricky for them to see the small business they began their partnership with, within your established brand today.
But remember, inconsistency isn’t the same as reinvigorating or changing your current brand message (companies do this all the time without fall out). Inconsistency comes when these changes are not made clear to your customers; in other words, you’re not authentically communicating the changes within your brand.
Authenticity and consistency go hand-in-hand when it comes to establishing a strong brand identity, and customers will quickly sniff out if something changes when it comes to these two components of your company story.
Know your audience
Brand storytelling can quickly become an expensive waste of time if you’re not correctly targeting your preferred audience. It’s important to note that brand storytelling is not just about who you are, but who your customers are and your interaction with them.
Miri Rodriguez, in the book, Brand Storytelling: Put Customers at the Heart of Your Brand Story, described this relationship as ‘The Robin to Batman Effect’. In essence, it’s not you but your customer that’s the central character in this story. Your brand takes a step to the side, becoming a figure that supports the goals of the main character: your customers.
“The brand takes on the role of sidekick in its own story, commissioning the customer to prosper with its help […] when the customer understands that your brand exists to make them better in one way or another and that you are positioning them to win, they become especially interested in winning. And when they win, you win.” - Miri Rodriguez
This is an especially vital concept for brands that want to increase their number of advocates. Positioning the roles in this manner automatically shifts your brand intention to being more customer-centric. By doing so, you’re far more likely to have customers wanting to connect with, and support you, regularly.
Communicate the problem you solve
This has been mentioned a little within the first two sections; however, while many brands understand that letting their customers know the problems they'll solve is important, communicating such a thing is not as simple.
Letting your audience know about the problems you solve can be done very easily, but choosing the simplest option is never going to be enough to drive home your point.
One of the most popular ways to use brand storytelling is to get your customer involved in the story. As the ‘Batman’ of the brand narrative, you want to show your audience solving that problem. They need to be able to visualize it. Arch G. Woodside, in Advances in Marketing Linking Organizations and Customers, explains:
“Stories enrich the psyche—stories are vehicles by which the storyteller enacts archetypal myths. Brands provide archetypal, myth enabling experiences; brands enable consumers to experience the “proper pleasure” resulting from unconsciously and consciously interpreting and telling about what they did and the outcomes resulting from their lives lived involving the brands” - Arch G. Woodside
Creating a storytelling campaign that shows your customers' problem being solved makes the process of buying from your brand seem all the more easier, because they feel like they’ve already done it.
In our top five commercials that have memorable brand storytelling, this is shown best through the Nike and John Lewis campaigns.
When Nike shows someone running at sunrise, their customers imagine themselves as that runner, making the actual act of buying running shoes and going on that run seem all the more easier because they feel like they’ve already done it. Brand storytelling can be elevated with a good understanding of consumer psychology. We just so happen to have an article on the topic, to get your investigation started.
Connect with your community
All of these points go a long way to helping connect with your audience in a way that encourages brand loyalty and advocacy, but none of this can be done without actually connecting with your audience.
Making any kind of sale, especially repeat sales, relies on having a two-way communication with your customers. For B2C businesses, one of the best ways to connect with your customers is through social media. Let your customers help influence where your brand story goes next, because they are, after all, a big part of that story.
Communication is vital to make sure you’re on the same page as your customers. Placing your customers as the ‘Batman’ in your brand story does no good if the narrative goes somewhere your audiences don't connect with.
Listen to criticism, make it a habit to conduct case studies and form focus groups. Offer the right kinds of incentives by asking your audience what they want from the narrative. All of this information can go towards forming the most authentic and satisfying narrative for your brand.
Consider where the story might go next by identifying the causes, features, or upgrades your customers are most curious about - don’t be afraid to highlight these changes too. Make a sequel to your original story!
For B2B marketing, this may be a little different, but no less important if you want to keep your customers on your side. Our sister community, Revenue Marketing Alliance, covered this specialized approach in their article, How to build emotional connections through B2B brand storytelling.
So, there you have it! Our completed series on brand storytelling. Have some thoughts you want to share? Our community is waiting for you: