Here’s the truth of the matter. If your brand doesn't have a story (or voice), your business concept can be as good as you like, but it won't succeed. Full stop.
Do you know why? If you don’t understand and speak the language of your customers and you don’t have a story that interests them, then as far as they're concerned you don’t even exist. If you don't exist, you can never connect. And if you don't connect, you don't have a business. It’s simple – and yes, it's tough, too.
Everything starts with your brand story. Your story. More than ever, stories are back. Just selling doesn't work. Been there, done that, thank you, goodbye. People buy stories. That’s where the real value of a brand – the brand equity – lies. And it mustn’t be a complicated story. You've got fifteen seconds. No more. If you can’t explain why you do what you do in fifteen seconds, your customer will end up with a competitor.
You’ve probably heard of an elevator pitch. Well, if the elevator reaches the top and your customer isn’t convinced or moved (preferably both), they’ll get out and you’ll never see them again. With your brand story you claim a position in the market: you explain what drives you, what your vision is, what your values are. It’s a single coherent whole, blending facts and emotions into what sociologists call a narrative, a story that gives meaning.
You need to tell people why you do the things you do, and what the story is behind your brand. Why do you exist? Why do you even matter? And you need to tell people this consistently across all your communication channels. But in order to do so, you need to know what you’re going to say. And how you're going to make sure that your story sticks.
Don’t just take our word for it. Jerome Bruner, a cognitive psychologist, calculated that we’re twenty-two times more likely to remember a fact when that fact is wrapped up in a story. Why? Because we can remember stories. Because we grasp the essence of an idea so much faster that way. And because stories activate our emotions. Remember: people forget what you say, but not how you make them feel. And it’s precisely those feelings that are the real drivers for a purchase.
‘Significant Objects’ was the name of an anthropological experiment by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn. They bought some useless objects at a garage sale – items that were on sale for an average of one euro. They posted the objects on eBay, each time adding a story that had been written by a famous or lesser-known author. The average selling price for the objects was almost 7 euros each.