Each business has a brand story, and if you share it with the right people and in a most awesome manner, you’ll rock your industry. But how do you create a brand story that touches your audience in a meaningful way? How do you make them care? How do you produce a story that makes them want to share it with those they know?
There’s no out-of-the-box solution or framework to what a brand story should look like, because the whole point is to build it around you… your message… who you are… what you have to offer that nobody else can.
BUT there’s a sure fire way to succeed in my opinion, and it’s to involve your customer.
Some of the finest brand stories around hand over much of the control to their audience and user, and invite them to be part of the epic ride. No matter what your industry or location or state of affairs, you can’t go wrong if you involve those you desire to know the most.
INVITE YOUR CUSTOMER TO CREATE YOUR BRAND STORY
There’s a lot of white noise these days, and one of the reasons storytelling works in the first place is that you separate yourself from the chaos. Where everyone around you pushes messages on their customers, asks them to buy, and focusses on features and products, the fact you share a more meaningful insight creates an element of trust.
You say to your customer, “This isn’t all about me selling a product to you. I actually want to help you and get to know you and have you part of this with me.“
It may sound a tad sappy, but it shouldn’t surprise you. After all, we’re people dealing with people, and who doesn’t want to feel wanted and cared for and part of something special? I do, and I guess you do, too.
Your customer certainly does, and this is why storytelling works. But what goes beyond storytelling is story-making, which invites your audience to be a genuine part of the journey. There’re many ways to approach this, and we’re about to unearth a few great brands leading the way and inspiring the rest of us to follow suit.
But everything hinges on one thing… YOUR CUSTOMER.
This may be your brand story, but with the right twist of story-making it belongs to the both of you. This matters because your customer becomes invested in you, your products, your services, and your daily day. You entice them to share and be proud and do a lot of the hard work on your behalf… like you know… spread the love to those they know.
KEEP THINGS SIMPLE LIKE OUT OF PRINT CLOTHING
Out of Print Clothing demonstrate the power involving your customer creates, inviting those who buy their book-related clothing and bags to share their purchases with a simple click of a camera. On their website and through the power of social media, their simple request results in dozens of pictures that shares an ever-evolving, growing, and real brand story.
Such an approach doesn’t cost you much at all, but empowers your customers to take action and ownership of your products.
Out of Print Clothing customers don’t just buy a t-shirt, rather buy into a grander brand story they’re proud to be part of. Hiut Denim achieve this too, through their History Tag initiative. They humanise their brand and product by asking you to share your pair of jeans’ journey.
You may say lots of brands do this, asking you to share a hashtag and tag them in a photo, but what Hiut Denim and Out of Print Clothing do isn’t some smarmy campaign. It’s part of their story and business model. It’s a genuine aspect of their everyday, which happens to involve folk like me and you… and everyone else who cares to become a customer.
Your brand story isn’t some marketing campaign, it’s THE marketing campaign. If you try and fake it your customers will see through it. Whereas if you make it a genuine attribute of who you are… good times roll.
TRANSFORM YOUR TESTIMONIALS INTO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL
A growing trend I love to see is how forward-thinking brands transform their static and boring testimonial pages into something interactive, meaningful, and awesome.
Take Xero, for instance, and how they share their customer’s own brand story. Not only does this demonstrate Xero’s software, how it works, and how effective it is, but advertises their customers and offers a peek into their tale. All of a sudden it becomes an us story, as two narratives intertwine with one another.
Xero approach this on a large scale, with high production value and an array of case study types. Maybe you can’t delve as deep as this, but could you showcase one or two of your most prized clients?
I sense you can, and it’s one of the most effective ways to share your brand story and include your customers at the same time.
- The customers you involve feel fantastic and valued
- Your future customers see how much you value your existing ones
- Future and existing customers alike aspire to become part of your case study section
No matter what your business is, you can utilise this approach to great effect. Not only a story-centric, interactive, and emotional way to share your products and services, but a genuine means to involve your customers in a marvellous manner.
FOREVER CROWD-SOURCE YOUR BRAND STORY
Going back to the notion of story-making, it’s beneficial to involve your customer deep within your brand story’s make-up.
Jones Soda happen to make a rather tasty drink, but it’s their labels that set them apart. Inviting their customers to send in photos, asking everyone to vote, and placing the most popular on their actual bottles – the same bottles you and me can buy from the store – they epitomise the power of crowd-sourcing without the use of a platform like Kickstarter.
Asking your customers to help you design or make or construct your brand story may send one or two shivers up your spine, but it needn’t. You still claim control over the majority of the process, and it’s you who decides what does and doesn’t happen. But the fact you invite your customers to get involved and share their thoughts means a great deal.
It comes back to ownership and involving your customers for the right reasons. This isn’t some short-term campaign that’s all about ROI, but a genuine attempt to involve and excite your customer. When Coca Cola placed names on their bottles, folk rallied around them. They had reason to smile, buy, and share.
But in comparison to what Jones Soda do, it doesn’t even compare!
There’s a way to involve your customer in your business, product, and brand story. It might not involve an invite to design, rather an opportunity to name a product, customise it, choose what sells and what point in time… Each business and brand story differs, but the opportunity to crowd-source IS there.
Will you take it with open arms?
INVITE THEM & GIVE THE REASON TO CARE
If you want your customers to feel strongly about your brand story, involve them in it. Ask for their help. Let them be part of the show. The mere fact you involve them sets you apart from the majority, but I’m afraid it isn’t as simple as asking.
Asking them is the first step, but you need to provide them genuine reason to accept your invitation.
We dream of building something and watching people flock towards it, but this rarely (rarely-rarely) happens. Yet if you place YOUR CUSTOMER at the heart of your brand story, you stand a solid chance. It starts with the invitation, but because you focus on them, consider how to involve them, learn about what excites them… you reach out, show you care, and demonstrate you want more from them than simple pennies and pieces of paper.
This. Sets. You. Apart.
I’ve shared a few examples with you today, but this is about YOUR Brand Story. This is about YOU and YOUR customers. Love, adore, and gape at what other brands do, but don’t copy them. Leave inspired by them by all means, but always think about how you can best serve your audience.
We talk about this in the Free 30 Day Brand Story Course, so you may like to check it out. Otherwise get in touch with me and share your questions and thoughts. I love a good chinwag on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, so don’t be shy. Share your brand story with me today!
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