By Valerie C. Smart
Just hearing the word “brand” makes me think of the organization Coca-Cola. Its “brand” is one that is quite recognizable across the world. The Coca-Cola white sort of fancy lettering embossed on a red background. Wait? Is it their “brand” that is recognizable or is it their “brand name?” We have to discuss the differences in both before we move forward.
Brand or Brand Name
The online dictionary definition of “brand” is the name given to a product or service from a specific source. Used in this sense, “brand” is similar to the current meaning of the word “trademark,” any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods.
However, a brand has more significance than just its trademark or logo. It is the history and story behind the “brand” that reveals and shares the essence of the product, which creates an opinion about it. Scott Bedbury, the CEO of Brandstream, says it best, “A brand is a story that is always being told.” A story tends to resonate with us on a deeper emotional level and humanizes us to help form connections. Henceforth, from this point on, we will be talking about the brand and not the “brand name.”
Consequently, how do we create a brand that has a story always being told? First, we need to know the story we are trying to tell. Consider, why your brand is so important to the world or the audience that is being targeted? What is the over arching theme that drives this product or service and ultimately shares its history? Does your story solve a problem? Is your story a reason for action, a special event, your history or future, a strategic or learning story or simply an “I’m like you” story? Whatever the theme, your story will be unique to you, your brand, and the experience you are trying to create.
Next, we need to understand how to tell our story. It is reasonable to say that we want the story to be “good.” In order for it to be good, we need to know our audience and tailor the story to them. If you were branding a story about your triumph to cooking that led to the discovery of a baked good unlike any other then your audience would probably be people who love to cook and love baked goods. Also, you need to make sure your story is authentic and true. People resonate with real truth not propaganda or fiction? The people that are going to buy your product or service need to relate to a real story. Just as important as the truth is, keeping your story simple is also important too. I think it is a human reaction to want to make our story EPIC and BIG! But many times it is the simple and sweet story that captures our hearts, so KISS (keep it simple and sweet).
Components of a Story
Lastly, we need to understand the components of a story that will help us to better capture and intrigue our audience, so they buy in to what you are selling or promoting. In every story there are five main parts: the Character, Conflict, Journey, Cliffhanger and Resolution. First, let us take a look at the Character. The characters in a story usually always follow these same traits—the Hero, the Maverick, and the Sherlock.
The Hero of the story is always given a challenge. The challenge is usually rejected at first because at times it is human to not to want to take on a challenge. But, the Hero soon determines that the challenge is what sets him or her apart from everyone else and then the challenge is accepted. Next, is the Maverick. The Maverick of a story wants to change the world. These are the dreamers and the difference makers and even the rule breakers who are not afraid to “ruffle the feathers” for change. After the Maverick, we have the Sherlock character of the story. The Sherlock is the problem-solver. For every problem there is a solution. This character is persistent and willing to look at problems as challenges needed to restore faith in humanity. Consider what character trait(s) you or your business might have that will help you to brand your identity.
The second part of a story is the Conflict. The conflicts are the issues and possibly threats that challenge you. Yet, also consider conflict to be an open door to opportunities. What opportunity is awaiting you that will bring about a change? This opportunity is the reason for your “brand story.”
The third part of a story is the Journey. The journey is the part in the story that has all the details and content. This is where you will discuss the obstacles, adversity, or massive struggles in greater detail and where you will captivate your audience by speaking to their emotions.
The fourth part of a story is the Cliffhanger. The cliffhanger is the peak of the story and can also be the most compelling part of your “brand story” that drives your overarching goal—why you exist. Even though things might seem insurmountable, there is an inner drive or strength that will help to change the course of the future for the better.
Lastly, we have the Resolution. Each part of the story has built up to this stage. This is the transformation stage where the character—you, your company or even a group—know you have the means and desire to make a great impact with your brand.
As you piece your story together, remember that it is not a long-winded six-paragraph essay about your company or a blog post. Your “brand story” should connect people to the “why your company came to be” or “how your product or service came to be.” Even deeper, your brand story can take a look into you as a company.
In summary, stories are what people remember. Even if people forget the brand name, it is rare that they forget the story and how it made them feel. Coca-Cola has reached millions of people not just because it sells great soda but through its brand marketing it sells reminders of “good times and warm feelings.”
Keep an eye out for our next article that will discuss taking your brand story and creating a brand name for forming and marketing your business!
Coca-Cola: The Real Story Behind the Real Thing,
Ethos 3: Storytelling 101. 2015.
Torren, Adam. Storytelling could bring your brand to life and strengthen your marketing impact. 2015. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/241725