04 Mar A Brand, A Story, A Connection.
The word brand is an adaptation of the original Old Norse word “brandr” meaning an identifying mark on livestock done with a heated iron rod. Back then, these “brandrs” were the only way owners could identify their livestock from others. In other words, brands were used to create distinguishable elements on certain products that were bought from the same business/ farm.
As society evolved, so did brands and the means of branding. Physically burning marks on products simply did not cut it anymore, and this fuelled businesses to innovate and create better ways of being easily identified. Today, the goal of branding is not to burn marks on products, rather it is to burn the images, signs, symbols and messages into the minds of consumers.
Brands today employ more subtle techniques to maintain a mind-share with target customers by using logos. However, this is not where the process starts or stops as branding involves corporate long-term involvement, as well as a high level of skills and resources. Corporate involvement is crucial to ensure that the brand stories do not deviate from the overall corporate strategy.
It is not uncommon to see businesses driving the association between carefully crafted brand stories and their products to connect with their audiences on a deeper level. A brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by brands. The main purpose of crafting stories around products is to connect with audiences more intimately and leave a longer lasting impression.
Stories work better than listing a product’s functions or services because it is simply easier to remember stories. It is important to note, however, that these stories must be something your target audience can connect and relate with, otherwise your efforts will not strike a chord. Your brand story must inspire an emotional reaction from your audience as it is important to have a gripping and persuasive story that strikes multiple emotional chords in the minds of the audience. The more realistic and consistent the story is with the brand values, the more likely the story is to connect with the audience on an emotional level.
This is critical because customers sometimes make purchase decisions based on the story attached to the brand that differentiates it from substitutes. Therefore, brands should ensure that their stories convince potential customers to buy their products/services.
For brand stories to play crucial roles in customer decision making processes, brand owners need to understand two things- that they are not the only authors of their brand story and cannot control everything about it. Customer experiences, social media posts, word of mouth and customer feedback also play a part in crafting a brand story. It is important to also note that the stories of competitors can influence the narrative of a brand story.
To further develop an emotional connection with the target audience, the brand should not be the main character of the story but be a part of the customer’s ecosystem. So the customer sees the brand as a natural and essential part of their lives, thereby properly understanding what the brand can do for them. For example, Nike’s brand mission is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world; they go further by saying “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”. This means that practically everyone should use a Nike product, and they mean it. They communicate it very clearly in their advertising campaigns while making the average consumer the star. The brand is very subtly placed as an essential part of the average consumers’ life. See the following three examples: Nike ad 1 Nike ad 2 Nike ad 3
By making the target customer the star of the story and the brand an essential part of that customer’s life they are more likely to connect and buy the product. Consistent brand storytelling can create repeat customers. Stories are powerful, if used wisely, they can be a competitive advantage.
 (Kumar, 2012)
 (Kapferer, 2004)
 (Richards, 2018)
 (Hope, 2018)
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 (Hope, 2014)
 (Nike, 2019)