Back in 1908, when cars were a luxury and when mass-producing cars was almost unheard of, Ford took a step no one dared to. They built an affordable, efficient and cost-effective car in an assembly line fashion — the Model T.
A majority of people could now afford a car; something they’d never imagined since cars were always expensive and custom-made.
From 1908 till 1927, they produced 15 million of these, making Ford and the Model T car a household name. In 1909, Henry Ford made the famous statement “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.” when the model T was rolling off assembly lines quicker than one could imagine!
Recalling history and tying this into brand-building, this was monumental for two reasons:
- The narrative that Ford was building was affordability for everyone; one that they succeeded in achieving. By 1920, more than half of the registered automobiles in the world were Ford’s.
- Back in 1908, push marketing was the only way to get your product in the hand of the consumer, and they needed a bold message to reach masses.
A lot has changed since then.
Consumers now have endless choices, and the tables have flipped — they purchase items and services based on what they read and the perceptions they form from information given to them.
It’s a scary world we live in these days. Your brand story is your saviour when you’re fighting current and oncoming competition.
In brief, what is a brand story?
It’s a set of accepted facts that are tightly wrapped around emotions to bring out a narrative that’s appealing and believable. It is a story that makes your audience pick you over the competition because of your values and beliefs.
When it comes to your brand story and why you need it, here are my top 3 reasons
I’m a strong believer that we only remember what we choose to remember. Brand association is the mental bridge (read: neurologic connection) that we build between products and concepts.
These associations that we form are based on our experiences, are long-lasting and are constantly being developed upon. We’re passive consumers of all this information being given to us.
When I think of Instagram, I think of sharing life’s moments as they happen
When I think of Amazon, I think of groceries on my fingertips with super fast delivery
Every brand is going to form these associations in their customer’s minds from the first interaction. Your consumers might not remember your logo but they’ll remember the story/benefits you left them with.
When the associations are made with cognizance, they can impact behaviour (read: $$$). How? — by dominating that mental space with a story.
Controversial thought: Apple might not be the best smartphone on the market, but when anyone says phone, you instantly think of iPhone — that’s the power of an association.
As a brand strategist, you have to be intentional about the brand associations you want to create, and your story will help you convey that seamlessly over time.
Nike for fuelling the athletic power inside us
Tesla for electric cars, Ferrari for workmanship and speed
These are all stories being told to us, every single day.
Founders that work on their brand story have crystal clear clarity of the short and long term story arc. They have spent energy thinking about their why, mission, purpose and so much more — which are indeed the fundamentals of every business. When you invest in a brand story, you’re building a single chain of thought and messaging. It’s your chance to speak about the history, challenges and differentiators — with authority, since no one can copy this.
Your story is yours to be used internally and externally.
Without the alignment, perceptions and on-the-fly assumptions seep in quicker than rain flooding your basement!
Internally: Every great job starts with an interview which is a great time to expose your brand story as vibrantly as can be. When there is a brand story in place, everyone — CEO to recruiter— is aligned on what the brand at its core is. Every employee needs to buy into the brand story for now, jobs aren’t just money-driven and led. It’s much more.
Externally: As a brand, it’s not just about that one social media post, it’s about every brick you place in the right spot. When you have a brand story in place, it gives every team vision and foresight into the kind of brand they’re responsible for building. There are no Chinese whispers happening. Your audience receives what you give, give them something worthwhile to talk about.
Example in-action: Apple’s career page
My favorite part:
Every brand’s dream is to build not just customers, but loyalists, also colloquially known as ‘the tribe’. Tribes are known for two things — support and authenticity. That’s the kind of relationship every brand should aspire to have. One where the story is being built together.
When you have a simple, easy-to-follow brand story in place, you’re giving your audience two things:
- Something to remember
- Something to share
These two are super empowering from a brand perspective because you’re owning the most expensive real estate there is on this planet — mindspace.
Let’s take the example of Airbnb. What do they stand for? Who are they?
If I had to sum it up, they’re a platform that brings together beautiful properties and travellers in a manner that’s trustworthy and reliable. A home away from home.
Now, if you go and stay at an Airbnb and you have a great experience — will you not go tell 3 other people?
Fact is everyone wants to be part of something (big) — as a brand strategist, you have the chance to make this a reality. Make the story-building and story-sharing easy for them.
My favorite part:
These are just three out of the endless reasons why a brand story can be your saving grace in 2022.
If you’re a new brand, a story can help you stand out and get noticed which is what you need when you’re new — eyeballs
If you’re an old brand, a story can help solidify existing relationships by diving one step deeper — the immersive connect
Your brand needs a story in 2022 to do three things
- Call out your brand’s differences so your audience knows why they should pick you
- Build powerful mental associations about your brand and the associated emotional outcomes
- To give your tribe substance worth sharing when they talk to their loved ones