Brand Storytelling: Using Authenticity to Build Customer Relationships

Storytelling is an innate part of human connection. It is how we
share culture across generations, communicate with each other, and
form communities. Brands can leverage the power of storytelling to
create deeper relationships with customers and share unique
perspectives from individuals and company leadership alike. Brand
storytelling is crucial to sharing authentic brand narratives,
demonstrating key differentiators in memorable ways, and ultimately
capturing market share.

What is brand storytelling and why is it important?

Brand storytelling is a way for brands to communicate their
guiding principles in a powerful and authentic way. Stories can
feature consumers, employees, or communities, and help demonstrate
what a brand stands for at its core.

No matter the subject of these stories, they should be accurate,
emotionally driven, and sincere.

Subject matter of brand stories can include:

  • How a brand got its start

  • A brand’s mission or purpose

  • An instance of impact on an individual or community

  • Employees’ perspectives

  • A look inside the company day-to-day

Different audiences will identify with different stories, so
brands can experiment with a
range of content
matter. The common denominator across topics
is a focus on relatable stories from real people that drive
emotional connections. Here are some of the ways brands can
leverage storytelling to drive meaningful relationships with
customers and increase loyalty.

How to build trust through storytelling

Storytelling can help strengthen a brand’s reputation and
build consumer trust. The new Loyalty
Research Report: Engaging Consumers in an Age of Increasing Brand
Distrust
 found increased consumer skepticism since just last
year. In 2017, our research found that a whopping 96% of consumers
ages 18-34 were willing to share their data for personalized
experiences. However, in 2018 only 50% of consumers ages 18-34 are
willing to share their data in exchange for
personalized experiences
. While consumers still want personal
connections with brands, they are hesitant to risk sharing personal
information.

Pepsi leverages storytelling to build consumer trust and remain
culturally relevant. Pepsi’s stories have evolved throughout the
years, but have always contained cultural significance and created
emotional connections with consumers. The 2018 Pepsi Super Bowl ad
told the story of Pepsi’s brand evolution from the 90s to now,
featuring faces like Britney Spears, Prince, and Cindy
Crawford.

Through its Pepsi Stuff program, Pepsi builds one-to-one
connections by using customer data in exchange for providing
personalized experiences. For example, Pepsi Stuff members can
share purchase information, complete surveys, and refer new
customers in return for exclusive Pepsi merchandise and
experiential rewards.

Once brands establish trust, customers will choose to engage and
return for future purchases. The right story can potentially
increase the value of a product by 20
times
.

Demonstrate authentic brand values through storytelling

Brands can generate consumer interest through storytelling by
illustrating fundamental values and sharing authentic narratives
that people relate to. In fact, 86%
of people
 say brand authenticity is important when choosing
preferences for brands.

Dove has a history of demonstrating brand values through
storytelling, beginning with the iconic “Dove Real Beauty”
campaign. When the campaign launched in 2004, cosmetics advertising
widely featured models fitting a narrow definition of beauty, so
Dove wanted to differentiate its brand by starting conversations
that empowered women of all shapes, sizes and ages. Not only did it
generate massive publicity, it resulted in a 700%
jump
 in Dove sales in the first six months of that year.

This evolved into over ten years of subsequent
campaigns
, both online, on television, and on social media,
including launching an entire production organization dedicated to
finding and sharing these stories, led by media powerhouse Shonda
Rhimes.

When a brand can illustrate a differentiating set of authentic
values that people associate with, it can generate buzz and capture
incremental market share.

Use brand storytelling as a differentiator

Not only is brand storytelling a way to build consumer trust, it
is also a way to differentiate from competitors and gain market
share. When a consumer feels connected to a brand because of its
core beliefs or how it makes them feel, they are more likely to
shop with that brand first over competitors, even when factors like
price or convenience aren’t as favorable. In fact, 86%
of consumers
 that are highly emotionally engaged always think
of the brands they are loyal to when they need something.
Ultimately, emotional engagement between a consumer and a brand can
result in a 5%
lift in annual revenue
.

TOMS is a shoe brand founded on a “One for One” approach:
for each pair of shoes purchased, one pair will be donated to
someone in need. This story, and the many stories of TOMS’ impact
across the globe, is what sets the company apart. It is not only an
origin story, but a core mission reiterated across its channels to
continually attract and identify with socially oriented consumers
and differentiate from other apparel brands. Audiences not only can
learn more about TOMS’ growing global initiatives and impact
online, but members of its Passport Rewards Program can actually
donate points they’ve earned towards TOMS’ charitable
efforts.

Drive advocacy through consumer storytelling

One challenge of effective storytelling is coming across as
genuine. Leveraging user generated content can allow brands to
share authentic stories with minimal investment in production. If
brands have passionate fans, they can strengthen personal
connections and ask to share their stories, including testimonials
and vignettes about the impact of the brand on their lives, or
wellbeing, or even just how it makes them feel.

Johnson & Johnson, a 130-year-old company, is excelling at
brand storytelling and sharing diverse, original stories. When
they launched an
extended parental leave policy, they asked employees throughout the
company to share stories that demonstrated how this new policy
impacted their lives. The result involved participation from all
departments, creating a community of storytellers and
advocates.

Another example of a brand driving advocacy through storytelling
is Sleep Number. Its InnerCircle loyalty program collects surveys
from members and incorporates results into blog posts to further
educate Sleep Number’s community of customers. They reward
customers for sharing testimonials and even feature those stories
on their blog.

Brand storytelling is becoming increasingly important as brands
attempt to gain consumer attention and trust. Brands can no longer
rely solely on their product features to attract and retain
customers. Rather, they must find unique, engaging ways to grab the
attention of audiences and differentiate from competitors.

Effective brand storytelling draws from a variety of subjects,
is authentic, and emotionally connects with audiences. Whether a
brand tells the story of its origin, its mission, or its impact, it
should help consumers understand why the brand is unique and give
them an opportunity to engage. When a brand can master this and
create authentic conversations, it can capture key market
share.

                                  
       

What makes storytelling powerful and effective? Read on to learn
about “Empathy
and Emotion: The Storytelling Keys to Content Marketing
.”

 

 

Source: FS – Marketing 3
Brand Storytelling: Using Authenticity to Build Customer Relationships