Telling your brand story

Hello. Every brand needs to be relevant to its customers’ lives, and it needs to be differentiated. But how to let the public know about how are you different? You need to write your brand story.

Maybe your brand already has a story – you did not start if from scratch but inherited it from your father. Or your family has produced and sold a specific food item, a TCM concoction, a service for generations.

Then your job is easy – you need to go back in time and look at where your brand comes from, who started it, developed it and made it work over time. People love stories. And more importantly, people love stories about other people. Their struggles. Overcoming all odds and making it big.

And the fact that your brand is still here, after 10, 20 or a hundred years, has a meaning: that there must be something special about it, something that was able to stand the test of time, and survive in the face of economic hardship and changing fashions and tastes. So dig into the archives. Speak to your grandfather. Find out what made him tick, and what he sacrificed to build and grow the brand. Then tell that story. It will set you apart, make you different.

I’d love to do this, you say, but my brand is – literally – brand new. So how? Not to worry. There is a story to be found in your brand. You just need to discover it.

Remember, you may be familiar of all the details of how your product is made, your service delivered, but your customer is not. All they see is the final brand, and how it makes them feel. In the TV series Mad Men, the creative director asks the Lucky Strike directors how they make their product. Then he writes down “it’s toasted”. They say, “but every other cigarette is toasted too?” But it doesn’t matter. Because nobody is telling that story.

So sometimes, being the first to speak about a special manufacture process, or sourcing of ingredients, is enough to tell the story – by being the first to say it you can own it, you can claim it for yourself. The competition then have no choice to talk about ‘me, too’ which is not an interesting positioning.

So look into the process, the start of the brand, the people who created it or who are bringing it to life today, to find your brand story. How about the cultural background? Is your offer rooted in a long tradition of, say, Indonesian handicraft of ‘jamu’ natural cosmetics that you can tap into? Even brand new brands often stand in a bigger tradition. That can help you, too.

And if all fails, invent it. No, I don’t mean make it up. I mean add a person, a process step, an ingredient that is special, unusual. Maybe it’s not really needed for the final outcome. But it gives you an angle, something you can talk about that sets you apart. Something that makes your brand and its story unique. And gives consumers a reason to buy it.