The Strategy Behind Brand Storytelling

People love to listen to good stories. We need a good story to share a laugh, to shed some tears and to enjoy a chat over a cup of coffee. Great brands work in the same fashion. The most loved brands are not necessarily the brands that intrigue us by the way they look, but rather the brands that tell us never ending stories that make us want to learn more.

Whether a brand captures the archetypal hero (Nike) or the coach that helps everyone perform better (adidas), the brands that succeed take into account the basic human need for storytelling. Brands like Pixar, Google, HP, Puma and Nike take us on journeys that surprise us and capture and spark our imaginations. The following are some of the ways in which the most celebrated global brands are successfully and strategically building their brand stories into all levels of their work.

1. Using brand stories to stay relevant.

admin ajaxPixar is a good example of acompany that captures the kid in every one of us through its timeless stories. It continues to amaze us with one blockbuster film success after another. Even though the films take three to four years to create, everyone eagerly awaits the renowned brand’s next move. Pixar goes “to infi nity and beyond” and always stays top of mind.

Nike is another brand that takes its story a step further than most. It not only designates a “chief storyteller” for the company, but also requires that every new employee go through an education program that teaches him or her about Nike’s heritage, history and culture. Nike, perhaps more than any other brand, uses its story to adhere authentically to its heart and remain trustworthy and relevant to consumers.

2. Evolving brand stories to cater to an audience.

While good brands know how to use their brand story to develop innovative services and products that relate to the distinctive core of their brands, the very best ones are able to progress their stories over time. They know how to cater to their audiences, and they’re adventurous enough to explore new territories and opportunities. Lego, a brand that stays true to the world of play, makes “building” part an overall experience in all media channels. To celebrate its 80th birthday in 2012, Lego created a short animated film, which spread online to the tune of almost six million views on YouTube. The film tells the heartwarming story of Ole Kirk Christiansen who built Lego from a wooden toy business to what it has become today. In a very Pixar-like animation, the film helps to create a strong emotional bond to the story behind the Lego brand while incorporating the most inherent aspects of what their brand actually is to the consumer.

3. Imagining radically new brand stories.

Brands like Google, HP and Puma are using innovative new technologies to dream of visions that would never before have been possible. Google wouldn’t have been relevant 15 years ago but today, with ever-growing bandwidth capabilities, the Google experience grows into areas previously unknown. Google Glass ( html#video=hif-video) is one of the company’s newest innovations in wearable media. Essentially, Google Glass is a wearable Android-powered computer built into eyeglass frames so that you can capture a display in your field of vision, film, take pictures, search and translate on the go as well as run specially designed apps. Google Glass uses a miniature display to put data in front (or at least, to the upper right) of your vision courtesy of a prism screen. This design allows the information to be easily seen without obstructing the user’s view.

HP is another example of a brand that has used technology to think outside the box. Its Memristor technology will eliminate computer boot time and enable users to switch a computer on and off like a light switch. HP has dreamed of a way to make nanotechnology, which previously only spoke to the experts in the field, accessible to everyone.

Puma’s work with Hussein Chalayan (the brand’s first Creative Director) also fuses creativity with technology in ways never before anticipated. The Spring/ Summer 2010 “Urban Mobility” collection featured playful skirts that opened and folded by remote control, furniture that morphed into clothes and outfits encased in electric lights.

Nike introduced “Flywire” in 2008 which was inspired by suspension bridges and has developed the world’s lightest high-performance footwear: shoes that fit like a second skin.

4. Using the brand story to drive internal brand engagement.

Beyond standard marketing and product development, some brands are using innovative storytelling to drive traditionally less creative departments like business strategy, human resources and brand management. While it is probably not advisable for a CFO to demonstrate wild creativity with numbers, companies like Google and Pixar create living work environments that foster better and more creative solutions and products. It’s not so much about treating the employee well – it’s about unlocking the best and brightest ideas.

As an example, Google employees have a half hour “time out” in a darkened room with fish tanks and private cabins that allow for employees to take care of their personal telephone conversations or pay a bill online. Pixar provides a running trail and free film screenings. By creating a happy and reduced-stress environment, employees feel able to come up with better policies and make better workplace decisions. CareerBliss, a national career and job website, reported last year that Google had the most improved worker-satisfaction score among their top 50 list of companies. As a result of added employee incentives at work, Google scored 37% higher than in previous years.

Great brand stories engage audiences, build brand affinity, simplify customers’ decisions, increase sales and provide opportunities to differentiate a brand.

A consumer interested in purchasing a new cell phone is asked to choose a phone out of at least 12 mobile phones. Each phone has almost identical attributes and qualities, but one stands out because it tells a story — it inspires and speaks to the consumer in a way that the others do not, and it does this with conviction and passion.

The brands mentioned here have invaluable aspects instilled into their business philosophy: creativity, ideas and the understanding that brands are best experienced through a multitude of living experiences and touch points. Strategic storytelling done effectively and successfully can secure consumer loyalty and increase sales.

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