Female walking in shopping mall

Brandstory101: Learn from Retail Branding Experts

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Storytelling brings a lot of opportunities for brands term these days. But, sometimes, since it is being overused, it might be something of a vague, old-fashioned term when we hear it. Yet, won’t change the fact that it is a powerful tool for retailers.

Of course, all retailers have a story to tell. Be it a story how their business was founded, or the story behind why they chose the line of business they are in as of the moment, or perhaps, a story about a project driven by passion and continued to be a profitable business.

Well, your story is not just a simple story. It can be maximized to be a part of your employees’ passion on their work, or maybe educate and encourage the community brand advocates to actually indulge in your brands’ endeavours—considering that they support your story.

Thus, if you’ve never thought of using the story behind your brand since then, you’re in the perfect spot! Here, let us show you why storytelling is so vital and how you can utilize it by yourself with the help of examples from retailers with solid brand stories to give you an inspiration.

#Brandstory101: What is a Brand Story

Well, first things first. Of course, before anything else, you have to know and understand what a brand story is and how it is actually something of a deeper matter beyond just your website.

Basically, your brand story brags about who you are and what you stand for. It is the first thing that would engage your customers whether they are in a brick and mortar store or online.

“The brand story should define the purpose of the company to both the staff and the customer,” says Taylor Bennett, CEO of branding and marketing agency MESH®.

 

#Brandstory101: Why is Brand Story so Important?

The Managing Director of Orndee Omnimedia—a PR and brand development firm—named Alexandrea Merrell, emphasizes the important role a brand story plays. She said, “[It’s] an essential part of modern marketing… Not so long ago, consumers only cared about price and functionality.”

With regard to the market’s behavior today, we all know that they look beyond price tags and good deals.

Merrell adds: “A [retailer] needs to identify their target market and ensure they are creating and relaying a brand story that engages.”

In addition to that, Paula Conway—President of Astonish Media Group—says, “[A brand story] is the message that creates a powerful emotional connection between your company, customers, and the general public… A good, strong brand message will resound creating consumer goodwill and draw more customers to a brand, sometimes customers that may otherwise not have tried the brand experience.”

Truthful, sincere, and engaging brand stories actually attract new customers especially to small retailers without spending much of their budget.

“When done right, it creates a magical bond and develops a relationship past products,” Bennett added. “If the brand story is effective, it not only has an increase in sales but also allows for the company to scale more quickly and with a culture that fosters the brand experience.”

Cassandra Rosen, a branding professional and co-founder of FK Interactive also stated something with regard to this matter saying, “Effective branding will either convince a customer to buy from you or from your competition… If they’ve never purchased from you before, branding and narrative are what will prompt them to take a chance on your brand.”

 

#Brandstory101: How to Build a Brand Story

To build your brand story is not an easy task, nor a difficult one. It just depends on how you would play with your ideas and incorporate it into your story with creativity. Well, here are some pointers to guide you in building your brand story:

  1. Know all your “Whys”

To kick off building your brand story, you might have to consider starting with the why behind what you do. Thus, here are some sample questions to guide you in determining your why:

  • Why do we actually exist?
  • How do we help the world?
  • What is our duty?
  • What encouraged me to pursue this line of business?

 

Bennett says, “Take a step back and look for the purpose of [your brand] beyond products.”

Seize the story behind why your brand exists and incorporate it into your passion why you actually indulge in your industry in the first place.

But to tell you, understanding the why can be a challenging task especially if you started and go on with your business merely to make money.

“People don’t buy so that you can make money,” Rosen says. “They’re looking for something to solve a problem they have, personally or professionally, or they’re seeking something to enrich their lives in some way. It’s your job as a retailer to figure out how to do this for them and do it in a way that makes them feel good about themselves, and their decision, in the process.”

If you are still confused, Merrell gave us an example of t-shirts selling. A brand story about T-shirt retailer—who wants to cash in on an online trend—must be a sort of boring, but you can twist it and shoot up another brand story. Here’s Merrell’s suggested brand story for that t-shirt retailer:

“I wanted to do more to help my local no-kill cat shelter than just donate food. When I read that videos of cats doing funny or cute things were the most-viewed on YouTube, I decided to see if T-shirts featuring those same funny poses and sayings would also be popular. I posted five t-shirt designs to start and let people know that 20% of the proceeds would go directly to support the Topeka No-Kill Cat Shelter. People really responded. Now, at the end of every month, I put a tally on the website, showing how much money was donated, and I include lots of pictures of the cat shelter on my social media.”

That’s a story that would actually drive your consumers to know and patronize your brand. “When people can see your passion, they want to be a part of it,” Merrell added.

Dig Deeper on your Product

In knowing your brand story, you must first understand your product—how your product fits into the story. A brand story that isn’t that relevant to your product can engage customers but would just create few sales.

Conway emphasizes that the “lack of self-awareness in the product” can be the greatest crime brands would commit when it comes building their brand story. “You don’t sell a Mercedes the same way you sell a Kia. They are both cars, but with different quality, performance, experience expectations, and price point.”

To actually determine how your product would fit into your brand story, Conway suggests that you might have to ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the quality and price point of my product?
  • Does my product solve a problem, or should it make a consumer feel a certain way?
  • How is my product different from competitors’ products?

On this matter, Merrell gave us another good and relevant example:

“If you started your pasta sauce brand in your mom’s kitchen, using your grandma’s recipe and veggies straight from the garden, there’s a presumption that your sauce is natural, maybe even organic. But if today’s version is mass-produced, full of additives and chemicals, the disconnect between the backstory and the current reality will be an issue for consumers.”

Know Your Audience well

Of course, for you to be able to know how to build your brand story, you have to know first who you are talking to—your target audience. Knowing their passions and pain points can lend you a hand determine how you are to build your brand story that would perfectly fit into their way of living.

Conway laid down another set of questions that you might consider asking yourself:

  • What is at stake if a consumer doesn’t buy my product?
  • Who is my current customer?
  • Who is my ideal customer?

 

Getting and determining your ideal customer can of something intimidating, yet, you still have to do it. It is vital to building your brand story that will resonate with assurance. It is a trend among retailers to try appealing to all customers, instead of taking direct dialog to them.

“In targeting ‘all,’ [retailers] get ‘few,’ because very few products are everything to everybody,” Conway says. “It’s okay to appeal to a broad demographic, but too broad can be a turnoff to some customers. Always be mindful of your product and who is a realistic, interested customer.”

For Rosen, “Don’t try to be everything to everyone” shall be a mantra of every retailer who recognizes that identifying the ideal customer for smaller retailers with little to no customer reach is a challenging job. “If this sounds like you, start internally, making a list of values you stand for, and think about the types of customers those values and ideals might appeal to,” she suggests.

Understanding and relating to your ideal customer isn’t enough. You need to ascertain your passion and be certain that you are really the story you are telling other people. This is for your brand story to drive connections that will eventually turn into sales.

“‘I want to be the biggest T-shirt manufacturer’ is not a goal that people support,” Merrell says. “Instead, try ‘I want to provide jobs for 500 people and help renovate and reinvigorate the community around our manufacturing facility.’ This is a goal that people can get behind and become a part of through purchasing your products.”

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