Brand or product storytelling has been a hot marketing topic for years. We’re believers. We think weaving a good brand or product story into your samples and other sales collateral is a powerful way to increase their potential to win the moment for your brand. And best of all, you’ve got a free run at it. Story telling in building materials is almost non-existent with marketers preferring the well-trodden ground of waterproof, stain resistant and durability claims.
But First, What is a Good Brand or Product Story?
What exactly is a brand or product story and why does it matter? Google those questions and you’ll get over 3 billion responses. So, we’ll give you our short take.
A story is exactly what it sounds like – something people have been telling around a campfire since the dawn of time. A brand or product story is a story about your brand overall or a particular product – why it exists, who it serves and how it came to be. A good one includes the same elements that draw you into a great book, movie or podcast. Here are some of the most common:
• A character or characters – typically either the company’s founder or a potential customer, but it could be anybody – even a driven researcher in R&D
• A wrong to be righted – someone at your company sees holes in competitive offerings that need to be fixed, or a customer has a problem with no ready solution.
• Your company’s values and purpose – these should be woven in somehow to explain why your company does what it does, what it cares about, who it hires. Perhaps making the world a greener place or offering customers more caring, personalized service.
• Some action – usually with your company or founder in the role of a supporting character – fighting to right the wrong.
• Some humor or irreverence – this may not be right for all brands, but a little sass or lightheartedness can go a long way in making a brand more likeable, more human and less corporate
• A happy ending where it’s all figured it out, someone’s life has been made better – even if just marginally – and something important has now been brought to market
• Authenticity – something real, poignant and not just PR
A good story has always been a powerful way to differentiate your brand from competitors. But in out hyper-competitive world its more important than ever. In part because younger generations are looking for more from the companies they chose to support. And they are being taught to expect more by companies like Amazon, Tesla and Apple. They want to like you. They want to know you share similar values. They want to feel a real emotional connection. And a story is a great way to accomplish all these things.
Types of Stories
Okay, so you want to tell a story. Here’s a partial list of some of the themes brands typically try to tackle in their stories – all of which offer a way to give your target audiences a window into who and what you are:
- Why your company came to be
- How your products came to be
- What motivates your team to wake up and come to work everyday
- The types of customers that love your brand and how it helps make their lives better
- A story about a particular customer and how he or she was helped – and how he or she feels about it
- A look at some of the people inside your company – who they are and what they care about
- The causes your company supports
- A mix of some or all of the above
Building Stories into Your Sample Boards and Other Sales Materials
Now we’re back where we started. Why it’s important to weave your story into your physical marketing materials.
We have something we call our Win the Moment checklist – a list of the things that a sample board or other piece of collateral must due to succeed when it gets its shot in front of a potential buyer. A key item on that list is creating an emotional connection between the buyer and your brand – a reason to for them to like, trust and identify with you. There’s almost no better way to do this than by incorporating a good brand story.
Can’t buyers just find your story on your website? Yes, if it’s there. But sometimes your product’s best and only shot in front of a prospective buyer is the sample boards and related collateral they see instore or that gets handed to them by a contractor. You can’t afford to miss that chance.
And if you’re thinking there’s not enough space on your marketing materials for storytelling, just give us a shot. We’ll be happy to help you explore creative ways – both visually and in copy – to make story telling a vital contributor to the success of your sample boards and other collateral.
Sample Story from Warby Parker – An Eyewear Retailer
Warby Parker tells a story of how it was founded by some rebellious grad students to tackle the problem of expensive eyewear after one of its founders lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and couldn’t afford to replace them. And beyond that – to fix everything that is slow or uncomfortable about the process of buying eyewear (for instance, they’ll send sample frames to you to try on at home). What’s more – they have a cause. They give a free pair of glasses to someone in need for every pair they sell. So, are you in?
Nest Thermostat Story
Nest Labs tells a story of how it was founded in 2010 by two Apple engineers who recognized that so much basic home technology has remained unchanged for years. Their inspiration came when one of them was building a home and found available thermostats to be inadequate. As his partner put it, “The thermostat is an eyesore. For so many years, it’s been a white plastic box. When we saw it, we knew we had to make it sexy, make it awesome.” Nest also has a cause beyond just a beautiful product. Thermostats matter. They control about 50% of Americans’ energy bills and as much as 10% of all U.S. energy usage. So, there’s an opportunity to take a “ton of load off the grid.”