Brand Narrative

Brand narrative has been changing thanks to digital marketing and social media. No surprise there right?

The basics of a brand narrative I believe boil down to concepts like those in the following quotes.

From Douglas Rushkoff, an author on media theory who said,

“We use stories to understand our world, orient ourselves, motivate our employees, communicate our brand values and even tout our stock valuation.”

Blogger Mickey Lonchar of said,

“It is the narrative of the brand that people connect with, that makes the purchase more ‘personal’ and says something about them. This narrative is what helps people define a brand for themselves and whether or not it belongs as part of their ‘personal brand’.”

These quotes made sense to me. It’s so true, we do identify with the story of a brand and that story is told in so many ways, from the advertising to the customer service we experience. It’s the story we remember more than anything else about the brand.

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that’s the essence of story telling isn’t it? I can’t remember every plot to every book, or play or movie I’ve consumed in my lifetime, but I can remember if I liked a book or play or movie because I can remember how I felt about it, at the time I consumed it, even when I can’t remember all the details. It’s the feelings that stick with you.

It’s the feelings that are at the heart of the brand narrative.

If brand narrative equals brand storytelling and to tell the brand story requires content, what does it mean for your business in this new age of digital media, social media and blogs, because that’s all content.

Think of some of your favorite brands now or in the past. What was it about them that made them appealing? Chances are it was the story. Take a current long running brand narrative today like Progressive Insurance and the character of Flo who has consistently been on the scene since 2008. You know her, her personality and her quirks. She’s relatable, entertaining, a heroine. She’s always putting the customer first. Her customers are never nameless and faceless. Flo isn’t like those other guys who think of you as just a number and don’t even know your name. She’s always there when you need her. Flo embodies all the qualities you want in an insurance agent and she’s very human even when she is being the hero. Flo is not Progessive’s only character in their brand narrative. They have the Messenger. That guy who will randomly fill up your gas tank for free or find other ways to save you money. But it’s all part of the corporate story and designed to make you know, like and trust Progressive Insurance.

A strong brand contains your company vision, your unique selling proposition, and your company culture. If it’s well done, it should attract your ideal prospects, employees and business partners.

What’s your brand’s story? How can you get to this level of engagement?

To start, define your vision for your company, which in essence is your “WHY”. Your why should be able to define your company’s motivation for being. We all get up in the morning and go to work. Hopefully you are getting to work on your business and not just in your business.

If you are a business owner, there was a reason why you started that business and it’s part of your bigger “WHY”. That why is going to help define your corporate culture, drive behavior of employees and customers and it will create a sense of community around a shared interest for you and your prospects, customers and employees.

Today, define the big “WHY”. And if you can’t define it, then that’s a clue that something’s wrong. Either you’re in the wrong business, or you’re not being authentic in your business. So define it and let it become the start of your brand story.

That’s the first step to developing a brand narrative that your tribe can relate to.

Listen to my interview with Fred McClimans of the McClimans Group for more in depth discussion of brand narrative and brand storytelling on Act Local Marketing.