Who’s Telling Your Brand Story?
If you’re waiting for customers to feel emotionally connected with your brand simply because of what you sell or the customer experience you deliver, you might be waiting a long time. Products, services and customer service can give customers the warm fuzzies for a few minutes, but they aren’t going to create the sticking points your brand story could create.
Think about how you felt the first time you heard the story behind a brand that intrigued you. People like Bill Gates who built the Microsoft empire without a college degree. Like coffee entrepreneur Howard Schultz who left a successful coffee franchise and risked everything he had on a little idea called “Starbucks” when his partners didn’t agree with his “third space” coffee shop concept. Like the two college dropouts who founded one of the most innovative companies ever: Apple (Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak).
Sure you might have already loved the software or the latte or the iPhone but it’s the brand stories – the stories in which we can see ourselves and our own aspirations that create connection, loyalty and the feeling that we’ve become part of something bigger.
You could spend all your time talking products and services, features and benefits, price and value and miss the most important detail of all: your brand story. If you aren’t telling your brand story, it’s being told for you, and these are the four people who are telling it (for better or worse):
4 People Who Are Telling Your Brand Story (But Probably Shouldn’t Be)
1. Online Reviewers
Any review or rating left on the internet about your company is telling your brand story. Negative reviews suggest your brand is lacking, rave reviews say that it’s worth considering.
Your reviewers are telling the story about the worth of your brand. Whether it’s worth what you charge, whether what you sell is worth buying, whether the way you do business is worth a first look, a second try or long term loyalty.
Your response (or lack of the same) to online reviews is also telling your brand story, but not the version you want it to tell. Whether positive or negative, if you aren’t responding to reviews, it suggests your brand is unaware, unconcerned or unwitting.
2. Your Employees (and Even Long-Time Employees Might Be Getting It Wrong)
Consider this: A recent Brandworkz/Chartered Institute of Marketing study found that only 37 percent of brand marketers believed employees in their company had a good understanding of how their role impacted the customer experience. Even if your brand story was told well during employee orientation, it’s not enough to ensure that staff know why your business was founded, its early struggles and challenges, its founder’s vision and endurance and its ultimate mission and vision. If you think about the short amount of time spent on employee onboarding and all the information a new employee is trying to take in, it shouldn’t be surprising that such a small number know how they impact the customer’s brand perceptions – it should be surprising that any do!
Employees that tell your brand story (and get it wrong) could be conveying inaccuracies that confuse customers or even come back to damage your brand in a customer’s view when found to be untrue. Employees who tell your brand story badly through the values they demonstrate on the job also damage customer perception about your brand story. In the absence of other information, these damaged experiences then become the truth about your brand to those customers.
3. Your Customers
If your customers are hearing your brand story through the distorted and twice removed lens of online reviews and employees, there’s a good chance that very little of its truth has gotten through. In turn, your customers then tell other people what they believe to be true of your company and its values, mission and vision. Based on this third-hand data, prospective customers may have little reason to do business with you.
4. Your Competition
Worst of all, if you are not telling your brand story you can be sure that your competitors do. The version they tell is likely to be the least flattering and most damaging to your business (and maybe even personal) reputation. And with nothing to compare these stories to, it’s probable that the general public will conclude they must be true.
365 Days of Marketing by elizabeth kraus is an idea book full of marketing ideas that will help you tell the story of your brand and create emotional connections with customers.