There is nothing more human than storytelling. According to International bestselling author and celebrated historian Yuval Noah Harari;
“Humans think in stories, and we try to make since of the world by telling stories.”
We communicate our thoughts through the crafting of narrative. Narrate stories of the experience we had at the Olive Garden, or the time that wonderful North Face raincoat did its job, and you stayed dry. We tell the story of our favorite baseball game. We use stories to teach, and to share. So, it should come as no surprise that the failure to use narrative in business can mean the loss of revenue, and eventually, real purpose. It can mean the difference between a company drifting off slowly into the sunset never to be thought of as anything more than a blurb, and one that occupies capital real estate, ever-present in the forefront of the consumers mind. It is truly the difference between good and great.
Once we take the time to identify and craft a strong brand narrative, the subject of the story is suddenly humanized. With its newfound humanization, it carries the ability to transcend the barrier of disbelief and dissociation.
So, what is your Brand Narrative, how can you identify it and make it start working for you? The first step is to reach back and give some thought to why you got into business in the first place. There was excitement at the onset, and a lot of positivity. All of that energy was based around the launch of a product or service that would change the way people think about how they get things done. Think about what makes you special. What makes you unique?
The Story of GoPro’s Brand Narrative
Almost twenty years ago, avid surfer, skier and motor sports aficionado, Nick Woodman was looking for a way to share images of himself and friends doing what they loved best, action sports. Woodman started with a 35 mm camera strapped to his wrist with some scraps from an old wet suit; GoPro was born. Since its inception, GoPro has risen to be recognized as the clear leader in the action camera marketplace. They underscore founding principles and energy by leveraging direct consumer feedback. The birth of YouTube helped spread the message and kicked things into overdrive providing a platform for GoPro users everywhere to share the story. GoPro recognizes the strength of their brand comes from the way people continue to use the product. By attaching themselves to that narrative, and working to support and create more, they continue to stay relevant.
The connective link of storytelling has been a success for many companies. Some outdoor enthusiasts founded The Yeti cooler company in 2006. They were looking to make a product that would survive their adventures. Yeti continually strengthens its narrative by providing space to spotlight and share stories that highlight the brand’s core values. E.g. strength, durability, outdoor passion etc.
Brand Narrative in B2B Sector
The strength of brand narrative doesn’t just stop at the consumer level though. The Business to Business sector is also now widely adopting Brand narrative.
In a recent issue of Marketing Weekly, Alicia Tilman, the CMO of multinational business and client solutions software giant SAP was highlighted for her bold strategy.
“We didn’t have a brand narrative, something that really articulates our purpose and what the value is we are looking to provide to our customers, that would serve as the anchor for our campaigns, sales strategies and innovation. Creating a narrative that works to do all of that and then serves as the anchor for everything you do from there helps to protect our purpose and authenticity.”
According to Tilman, historically the focus of B2B sales has been connecting with the client company goals. Instead the focus should be on connecting personally, and that’s something Tilman says needs to change. Creating a strong brand narrative allowed a connective theme to tie together messages, campaigns, ethics and values. The Brand Narrative allowed for the focus to be drawn on results rather than operations, because the result is the end user.
Make sure your story is cohesive from platform to platform. Remember, each platform has a different audience. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook all have different core users, so it is essential approach each with that in mind.
In the end, authentic stories engage, create a moment, and communicate authenticity to the customer, but its more than that. Stories remind us of our values, should be the thread we use to connect entire fabric of our brand narrative. Brand Narrative has the power to unite both company and client alike. Its why we do what we do with pride.