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How to Craft an Emotional, Effective Brand Story

Posted by Emily Hegland on August 6, 2020

Consumers make decisions emotionally.  

It’s true.  

According to Gerald Zaltman, emeritus professor at the Harvard Business School, 98% of buying decisions are made in the subconscious.  

That means these buying decisions come from the heart or the gut… rather than the brain. Emotion beats logic nearly every time.  

And that’s why it’s vital to have an emotional brand story.  

Facts appeal to the brain. Stories stir the heart. If you want to create a real connection between your brand and your customers, you need a brand story that sticks with your buyers. 

So how do you do it? How do you craft a brand story with emotional impact?  

Here are three tenets you should build your brand story around.  

1. Focus on personal benefits  

It’s not about your product. It’s not about the service you offer. It’s about the person who makes that purchase. How has their life improved? How does it help the average Joe? 

For example, your new, lightweight vacuum cleaner may leave floors spotless because of the best technology. But is the story about the floors? Nope. We can’t relate to floors. But we can relate to people. It’s about the person who has more time to relax without worrying about the floors. It’s about the time he saves and gets to spend with his family. It’s about home… family… and peace of mind.   

This even applies to B2B products marketed to an entire organization. How does it help the individuals on the team? And how can those personal successes contribute to the success of the organization as a whole? Don’t forget the humanity, even when your target is a business. Businesses are made up of people. And ultimately, a person will decide if they want to buy from your brand. So, frame your story around the worker before you frame it around the company. If you can help communication between team members, highlight the ease of sharing ideas over the bottom line or productivity.  

The story arc doesn’t mean you should ignore the facts. Logic can be a supplement to the value. A proof point, perhaps. But it’s not the whole story. That revolves around how your product or service makes your customer feel 

2. Build a story around your values

Buyers can sniff out an inauthentic story. Don’t force your story into what you think they want. Build it from your own values, the values around your brand. People who share those values will follow.  

In fact, 86% of consumers say that authenticity is a major factor in deciding which brands they support. To build a customer base of like-minded people, you need to tell your story from a place of truth. 

So, if you want to appeal to eco-conscious consumers, tell the story of how your brand is sustainable and good for the environment. Share how purchasing from your brand uses less packaging and recycled materials or offsets carbon emissions for every delivery. Think about a brand like Rothy’s; they make washable shoes from plastic bottles. Or Patagonia built repair centers around the world to make their products last longer and reduce their carbon footprint.   

Or if you want to capture the imagination of people who love the outdoors, you can build your brand story around a sense of adventure. Talk about how your product can take them to places they’ve never seen before and excite their imagination. Think about Jeep’s marketing… it’s all about exploring parts unknown. Or maybe youre all about dependability… share the care you put into crafting your product, the design choices and materials that make it last.  

But to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. So, the customer experience needs to reinforce these values. Make sure you tell the right story… instead of pretending to be something you’re not. If you make false promises, you’ll lose your customers quickly.  

3. Share actual stories to stay in consumers’ minds  

Memory is a fickle thing. Give someone a string of numbers or a list of unrelated words… it won’t stay in their minds long.  

But give them a story and it’s a lot more likely to stick with them. People look for familiar patterns, like a clear beginning, middle and end. That’s not something a simple statistic can do. 

However, if you build it around a story, that statistic will have much more impact. So, craft case studies that show your successes. Structure them in a problem-solution-result format. Build up to your winning stats… then use them as a powerful proof point at the end. This is a powerful method for B2B products and services. If you can show how you helped another business in this format, you prospects can see themselves in your story… and see the value of working with you.  

For B2C products and services, customer testimonials have a similar impact. Encourage and incentivize customer reviews. It’s best if you solved a problem for them: For example: “I walk to work, and I needed a professional-looking pair of shoes that are also comfortable. I always got blisters from wearing other brands. Until I tried this shoe. No more blisters… plus, it’s stylish and appropriate for work.” You can even offer rewards for reviewers: say, a discount on their next purchase or a chance to win a gift card. That way, your customers can share their story in their own words.  

If you need help crafting an effective brand story, J&C can help. As experts in the science and art of customer engagement, J&C has helped tell stories that resonate with customers and motivate them to act. Contact us for more information.  

Topics: Relationship Marketing, Brand Story

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