The Power of Brand Storytelling

Aug 13, 2013

Elizabeth Canon

What Is the ‘Power of Brand Storytelling’, exactly? Like many industry trends, the buzzword of storytelling has become so overused that one can’t help but suffer from ‘storytelling fatigue’. However rampant the nomenclature, though, listing brands in our industry with strong storytelling skills is still somehow a challenge. This is, in part, due to a misunderstanding of the term in a business context; and partly because storytelling techniques and strategies continue to evolve in the digital world.

Throughout our lives, storytelling has come to connote tales and stories listened to, read and watched, always with an expectation of entertainment and typically containing certain structured and thematic elements of plot, setting, characters and conclusion.

In a business context, many seem to believe that telling our brand story means one of two things: stringing together the structural elements, the sum of which we assume to be a whole and successful “story”, or depicting the history and heritage of our brands in a catalogued, chronological account. The fashion and luxury industry has amended this definition to position the brand as an architect that engineers a fantasy, adding to the list elements of art direction, celebrity, location and atmosphere.

However, businesses forget why people enjoy stories. In the most basic sense, stories offer an emotional journey that provides a human connection. Successful brand storytellers today resonate not only because they entertain, but because they stand for something more than simple product traits, customer services or company heritage. While all of these are baseline standards that fashion and luxury brands must communicate and deliver on, but to strive for these as the only points of distinction is a critical mistake. In fact, leading emotional connection intelligence firm Motista has shown there are 3 stages of consumer relationship building: Satisfaction, Brand Differentiation and Emotional Connection. The difference between the first two levels is incremental, showing that when a brand delivers on aspects of customer service and product attributes, customer loyalty, purchase intent and advocacy rise only an average of 20%. However, when consumers become emotionally connected with brands, they are 300% more likely buy more, pay more, recommend more and stay longer.

A captivating and successful brand position today cannot be based in history, internal brand pillars, product attributes, or creating a pictorial  fantasy alone. Instead, brands must focus on how the sum of these parts impacts the customer’s life and enhances their own idea of themselves, their self story and stands for something greater. By truly understanding the customer and your brand’s distinct place in the market, brands can know precisely what fantasy will resonate most with their audience’s aspirations. And that, is the foundation for successful storytelling.

This month, we are excited to focus on the power of brand storytelling as our theme, providing a look at what this trend and buzzword actually means in concrete and actionable ways. For more information on our monthly themes and workshops, please click here.

Photo credits: Harald Sund