Do not make the mistake of thinking that “brand story” is just the latest feel-good marketing trope. In fact, every brand has a brand story, deliberate or not. Any successful brand will develop a brand story of sorts if it sticks around long enough.
You can build your own brand story or allow the world to create it for you.
The reason the concept has become so important recently is that brands have more scope than ever for expertly shaping their brand story – getting out in front of the narrative before one can be created by the consumer base, which may or may not be flattering.
You do not just decide what your brand story is and proceed to ram that story down everyone’s throat. You have the opportunity to make a successful brand story that resonates with the consumers you want to attract, and you start with consumer insights.
Consumer Insights Are Far More Than Just Data
It is important not to confuse “consumer insights” with “consumer data.” Consumer data tells you that people buy your products on Mondays, and they buy more of them during the summer, for example. Consumer insights let you know people buy more of your products during the summer because the kids are home from school and it is not something they can pack in school lunches.
Once you know the “why” behind consumer data, you gain the ability to tap into your audience’s pain points and address them, letting them know through your actions that they are not alone and that someone cares about addressing their needs.
Great Brand Stories Demonstrate that You “Get” Your Audience
Successful brand stories show that you understand your audience. You do not just know that they are men ages 40 to 50 who have long car commutes and want to cut down on coffee consumption, for example. You know that your audience’s kids are teenagers and their car insurance is going up, and they are worried about developing heart disease from the stress, for example.
One absolutely critical aspect of the successful brand story is that the brand is not the hero of the story; the consumer is. People want to know that they are not the only one with a particular set of pain points and that someone very much like them improved their life in this way, with this product or service.
Take Your Data and Ask, “So What?”
Your orange product outsells your blue one ten to one. So what? Why is that?
One powerful way to go from having data to having genuine consumer insights is to take the data you have and ask, “So what?” In other words, people buy your product most frequently between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. on weekdays. So what? Perhaps when you drill deeper, you will find that it is because most of the people buying your product are busy professionals who cannot afford to eat out all the time, but who nevertheless want a nice dinner once they get home.
Ask the question again: “So what?” They want a nice dinner when they get home because lunch is usually rushed and unsatisfying. “So what?” They think they deserve to either be paid more or to have an assistant. And so on. The deeper you dive and the more you learn, the better you can anticipate consumer needs and fulfill them.
Communicating Your Brand Story Most Effectively
Building a brand story based on solid consumer insights is a powerful act. However, if you do not communicate your brand story, it will not do you much good. Many brands today tell their brand stories through immersive, multimedia experiences, and this may or may not be ideal for your brand. They also interact with consumers, observing and listening, as well as asking and answering questions.
Successful brand stories are coherent and consistent across marketing channels, with tweaks to make the content most suitable for the channel and the channel’s prime users. Finally, successful brand stories are about quality over quantity. It will not do you much good to blast your brand story to 10 million people if it is only going to resonate with the key 1 million people you really want.
Consumer insights are the fuel that powers the engine of the brand narrative. Do not just identify the sound bites that your data generates. Dig down and find out why the data is the way it is, and you gain the wisdom you need to create a brand narrative that you can be proud of and that will serve you well over the long term.
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