Once upon a time, there was a brand

Storytelling. How many times have we heard that word from comms pros, and what exactly does it mean?

Well, let’s start with Nike.

Their story isn’t about their rubber outsoles with flex groove, or even about their engineered foam collar for added protection.

It’s about dreams. In their story, they’re helping you reach for more, strive for more, they are your mentor. Pushing you to run just that little bit further, or stretch that little bit higher. “Just Do It”, they say. Forget about the haters, or the athletes who can run faster, you can do it, and we’re behind you.

That’s Nike’s story.

You see, brand storytelling isn’t new. It’s been around for years. And funnily enough, the first person who taught me about storytelling was Mel Gibson:

And yet, some brands continue to tell the wrong stories. The functional stories.

You see, it’s all very well talking at consumers with details of price, availability and tech specs, but it’s about time every brand spoke with them.

Because once we talk with them, and begin to share opinions and thoughts which tap into our audiences emotionally, we’ll connect with them more than we ever could have thought.

So how do we find the brand story? It’s not something I can put down on a short blog post, but for anyone who hasn’t listened to Simon Sinek, I urge you to take ten minutes and think about who you, as a brand, are.

Because people buy the ‘why’ of your brand, not the functionality or process behind your existence. They buy into what you stand for, your reason for being, your purpose.

What does your brand believe in, what issues can you get behind, what really impacts on your consumers, and how can you solve their problems? How can you remain relatable, relevant and memorable to your audience and their lifestyles, so that they feel something when they connect with you? Will you stay with the customer after they’ve put the magazine down, turned the TV off, or left the shop.

Amongst others, TravelZoo are just one brand driving their comms strategy forward with their story. They don’t just talk about their holidays and offers, but think about their audiences and what they want to hear. They promote their brand through tapping into their customer’s mindset, and acting as the reassuring friend advising them where’s safe to travel and how to cope when things go wrong.

TravelZoo’s ‘why’ isn’t about flying people back and forth for £9.99, or promoting one bed villas on the Costa Del Sol. It’s about creating experiences and emotional memories which people will think back on for years to come. They are successfully hooking people through these emotional connections and engaging with them as part of their community.

The brand understands its purpose and what its customers want, and that’s why it’s become so successful.

Because success no longer depends on how many people see your coverage, or watch your video. It’s about how many people act as a result of it, how many go on to buy the product, sign up to the cause, and spread the word.

That’s the very basis of PR, because even we have a brand purpose. We can’t work with clients until we, and they, understand their own brand stories. Without this understanding of who they are and what drives them, we can’t push campaigns out in the right way with ongoing, electric momentum. Without understanding who the client’s audience is and what will truly impact on their lives, we can’t create that desired advocacy.

You see, we’re in the business of telling stories to change behaviour.

As Levi Roots said at a recent conference I went to, “Customers don’t invest in a product, they invest in the brand”.



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