Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What’s your brand’s story?

I was recently sifting through some marketing trade articles I had collected and came across this compelling quote from Edward Boches, the chief creative guru at the Mullen agency. It’s about the difference between good advertising and great advertising:
Good advertising tells you what a product does and why you should buy it. Great advertising expresses what a brand stands for and invites you to share in its beliefs.
On the same day while reading DMNews, I noticed this strategic insight from Aimia Vice President of Knowledge Development Rick Ferguson:
There’s a difference between capturing a customer’s wallet and capturing his heart…brands that integrate emotional components into their loyalty strategy have more opportunities for retaining their customers and expanding their value.
It struck me that these were really two versions of the same idea: whether you’re trying to attract or retain customers, you need to strike an emotional chord—you need a message that customers can relate to and believe in. You need a good story. 

Every product, service and loyalty program has a story to tell.
The film director John Sayles once said that he believed his purpose in life was “finding and telling the stories that move me”. He believed that the stories that moved him also had the power to move others. I believe that’s part of our job as marketers—to find the story inherent in the brands we work for—stories that we believe in and can tell to others.
It’s easy to see that some brands, often by the nature of their product, have great stories to tell. Take Nike and last year’s TV spot called “Find Your Greatness”, which showcases the efforts of a pudgy lad jogging down a country road. The message: if he can do it, I can do it (with the help of a pair of Nike running shoes, of course).
As Boche points out Nike’s advertising doesn’t push shoes; it encourages, inspires and promises individual achievement.” And for years, even decades now they’ve been doing this with the stories they tell. But what about the “less interesting” verticals and brands? Or loyalty programs? Do they really have stories to tell?
Well, here is a recent brand example that really stood out to me, from a category I didn’t expect it from: beer. With the market so flooded with craft brews these days, it can be difficult to separate one beer from the other. And even though I’m a self-proclaimed beer connoisseur, I’m often stumped by the sheer variety of choices at my local beer market, often choosing beers on the attractiveness of their label or their geographic location.
But while doing a little research, I recently stumbled upon the Web site of one of my favorite craft brews, Sierra Nevada, and found they had an amazing tale to tell. Now the key to a good story is the telling and Sierra Nevada has a beauty about their rich heritage. It’s featured in a short online video on their home page and if they gave out Academy Awards for this kind of thing, it would get the best short in the brand storytelling category.
Another example is the excellent story told by the leading loyalty program…wait a second…I can’t think of a single good example of a loyalty program with a really good story behind it. So let me put the question to you: does your loyalty program or a program you know about have a good story to tell? If yes, let me know.
This post, by Tom Rapsas, originally appeared on Loyalty Truth.