Companies are no longer solely defined by the tangible products they offer. In today’s interconnected global marketplace, successful brands leverage tactful storytelling to connect with their target consumers. This concept is not new for marketers, but it’s proven to be a valuable one, both traditionally and digitally. Crafting connections by telling a unique story then creates an appealing image and distinct brand identity that consumers are willing to buy into.
With consistent cues and relatable stories, a brand name becomes subconsciously parallelled with so much more than just the products or services it offers. Crafting a strong brand story can strengthen consumer preferences for one brand over another. Top brands today, regardless of whether they’re a century old or the latest startup, command far more influence in the digital realm when they are telling the right stories tailored to their audience. Curating a brand’s story cohesively across the right digital channels connects companies with the right customers in a way that leads to meaningful, loyal relationships.
Effective Angles for Storytelling
Highlight Your Rich Heritage
If you’re an age-old brand, you have the wisdom of an industry. Matured companies or industry innovators can leverage their longevity, expertise and ever-evolving innovations. This longevity and expertise lend itself to rich storytelling through a retrospective lens.
Louis Vuitton is a great example of a luxury fashion brand that leverages their heritage. Founded in 1854, the brand was best known for travel trunks and luggage. With their Legendary History marketing campaign, Vuitton offers stories of their rich history from an age where travelers carried all their essentials inside hard-sided wardrobes and flat trunks. Master Trunk Maker Louis Vuitton sought to help his clients protect the goods inside their travel pieces. After years of development, Vuitton revolutionized an unpickable lock system to protect clients from theft on their travels. This innovation turned travel trunks into treasure chests. Vuitton put their expertise to test and even challenged renowned escape artist Harry Houdini to escape from a locked Louis Vuitton piece. Although we pack much lighter today, the lock’s effectiveness has influenced a continued image of excellence and their trademarked logo is now recognized across the globe.
Today, Vuitton and heritage labels alike tell stories of the past and pay homage to their legacies. It’s no question Vuitton placed highest (#19) for luxury brands on Forbes 2016 list of Most Valuable Brands. Vuitton was the third oldest brand on this list next to Hermes (#48,1837) and Cartier (#58, 1847). Each of these companies tactfully leverages stories of their traditions, which strengthens an identity and cements them as today’s most influential luxury labels worth investing in.
The rich heritage of your brand can deliver a resilient personality and market authority that consumers trust. Discover your unique origin story by reflecting on how current loyalists identify with your brand, then trace back the steps to discover how and why.
Leverage Customer Experiences
Your customers are your best brand advocates and sharing their stories is a natural way to enhance your brand identity. Word of mouth holds great value in traditional marketing behaviors and is equally impactful in the digital landscapes.
In a culture where we engage so frequently and easily online, the experiences of the people who already live and breathe your brand and product or service are the most compelling stories to share. Hydro Flask, the first to market a double-wall insulated water bottle, uses the sightings of their products across social media to shape their broader story of adventure and wanderlust. With their use of enthusiastic user-generated content, it is by no surprise Hydro Flask has grown into the number one insulated hydration brand in the U.S.
They’ve managed to create a cult-like following for a thermos. The companionship between their consumer and their product is unsurpassed. #LiveRefreshed and #UnexpectedRefreshment are unbranded Hydro Flask hashtags created by loyal customers, which return over 10,000 unique user images on Instagram alone. These images tell the stories of the wanderlust lifestyle that encapsulates the brand: people hiking with their dogs, camping in canyons, kayaking in rapid waters, surfing the bluest oceans. These are the stories consumers can buy into. By sharing the stories of their loyal customers, Hydro Flask creates a unique appeal and an unrivaled social community.
We live in an age where people are constantly interacting online. This allows your consumers to be a patch in the quilt of your brand’s story. You cannot stage better campaign photos or stories than the ones that organically exist, so promote your brand’s social culture and leverage consumer enthusiasts to create a truly connected community.
Leverage Perceptions of Luxury
Intangible brand attributes offer positive associations that can evoke a narrative that consumers want to become a part of. For the same reason, major brands endorse athletes and events, these aspiring connections are subliminally influential. In digital storytelling, there are many ways to craft your story through visual cues while reaffirming positive brand associations. Be purposeful when and how you associate yourself with anything— whether it’s a country, city, or other icons. What story associated with that icon are you trying to leverage?
For example, numerous companies make firm associations with the four fashion capitals of the world. If we think of the brands that incorporate New York into its logo and brandmark the list is endless: Coach – New York, DKNY, Kate Spade – New York, Brooklyn Industries and so forth. We see the same trend with London, Paris, and Milan. The positive associations available by embodying the image and likability of these cities are attractive stages for storytelling. Brands use these images and associations in order to become part of the narratives those cities bring to mind: lives of luxury, stories of the movers and shakers and dreamers, places where icons are born. For example, Coach uses imagery of iconic New York backdrops, a legacy scene in their overall story of American style with a distinctive New York spirit, across their social profiles, advertising campaigns, store atmospheres and magazine editorials. By doing this, these brands make their consumers feel like they too can become part of these larger, luxurious narratives simply by buying a handbag.
Be Part of a Story Larger Than Yourself
Today, many (if not most) branded consumer preferences are socially motivated. Mindful consumers appreciate the narrative of the corporate responsibilities that a company supports. Patagonia is a fantastic example of a brand that embodies the story of their sustainable efforts in both their marketing and manufacturing. Patagonia’s environmentalist efforts and fair trade sewing movement provides engaging and educational stories worth engaging with.
Many more progressive and transparent companies are leaning on their eco-friendly initiatives and manufacturing consciousness to tell their unique stories of sustainability. These parallel associations provide humbling and thinkable moments. Patagonia has given us insight through their stories to encourage us to act more mindful as consumers. They tell a powerful and sincere story of anti-materialism, in a competitive fast-fashion saturated landscape. A product with a story which is supporting a cause can inspire customers to reflect, then later motivates them to be a part of a larger, global narrative.
Masterful storytelling is an invaluable strategy that enhances the values of your brand and connects you to the consumers you care about, and who will care about you. Today’s top brands leverage tactful storytelling to shape their feel and overall appeal. In the end, people don’t want to buy into things they want to buy into a story.