As someone based in the Western region, I often find myself clarifying the concept of branding. To be clear, I’m not discussing branding cattle or livestock with an iconic symbol, a la Yellowstone Ranch (Y). Business branding serves as the foundation for investor relations (IR) and public relations (PR) campaigns.
So, what does branding actually entail? Let’s delve into a brief primer.
A brand is far more than a company’s logo or tagline or description. It encompasses a unique blend of visual, written and physical elements that represent a business. It includes the values, mission, vision and beliefs of a company. A brand encapsulates the promises a company makes to its customers, reflecting their expectations, preferences and the company’s dedication to delivering quality and value. A brand is an intangible asset, akin to a company’s heartbeat.
Think of well-known companies like Nike, Apple, Tesla or Starbucks. You can likely visualize their logos, but what else do you know about these companies or their values? What feelings do they elicit in you? Whether you love them, hate them or fall somewhere in between, these company brands are purposeful and vivid. A brand combines elements that include the logo, yes, and the marketing message, but also the values, purpose, expertise and the value proposition a company offers. A brand weaves all of these into a cohesive entity and builds a company’s distinct identity and personality.
I had the opportunity to work with Starbucks, the largest company I’ve ever been involved with, and witnessed firsthand how they embody their brand through their mission and values. Their brand is deliberate and meaningful. It’s about far more than coffee. While the components of Starbucks’ marketing have evolved over time, and should with most companies, its commitment to its brand has remained steadfast.
The Power of Brand Storytelling
Employing a brand through storytelling involves the strategic use of thoughtful narratives, and through well-designed techniques, communicates a brand’s values and unique identity to its target audience. It entails crafting compelling and engaging stories that forge an emotional connection with consumers, resulting in a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the brand. Many Americans have that type of deep relationship with, say, Crayola or Marvel, or a beloved car company, a brand that resonates and elicits within them feelings of nostalgia, power, competency or even fun.
Rather than focusing solely on product features or promotional messages, brand storytelling aims to convey the brand’s purpose, its history and the impact it aspires to make in the world. A company’s brand story transcends the mere act of selling products or services. It strives to create an authentic and relatable brand persona that resonates with consumers.
Effective brand storytelling incorporates the following elements:
Authenticity: Narratives that are genuine and align with the brand’s values and purpose.
Emotional Appeal: Tapping into human emotions to establish a strong connection with the audience. It may be achieved through sharing personal stories, highlighting customer experiences or illustrating the brand’s impact on individuals or communities.
Consistency: Maintaining a consistent brand narrative across various platforms and touchpoints reinforces the brand’s identity and message.
Engagement: This means encouraging audience participation through storytelling techniques including user-generated content, contests or interactive campaigns.
Differentiation: Utilizing storytelling to set the brand apart from competitors. A company can differentiate by showcasing unique aspects of its history, values or products.
Brand storytelling can be implemented in nearly limitless ways, but must be targeted to the right audience at the right time.
At G8, we strategically use various channels, including advertising campaigns, social media content, website copy, videos, and even in-person interactions. By harnessing the power of storytelling, brands can create a memorable and compelling narrative that resonates with their target audience, fostering investment, brand loyalty, and advocacy.