True story… strong narratives are at the heart of every brand

* 2 min read

Human beings love a good story. Heroes and villains; romance and adventure. And the thing we love even more? Sharing those stories with other people.

Stories form the basis of every culture and religion and, these days, shape every brand that graces our shopping basket. With content marketing THE in thing with marketers these days, everyone’s clamouring for those narrative nuggets that help bring their brand to life. The anecdotes that people can share down the pub, the ad you instantly know is from Brand X, Y or Z, or the organic content your advocates generate and share without you even having to ask.

Now, when it comes to building a brand, there are some brand design agencies that think it’s enough to come up with a ripping yarn to hang your creative on, even if that yarn is, well, a little frayed around the edges. But for your brand story to really resonate with your target audience, it has to be grounded firmly in truth.

Want your brand to be quirky and hip when you’re pretty traditional and have been around for centuries? It just won’t fly. Positioning yourself as an ethical pioneer when you use unregulated production sites in Asia? One day you’ll get caught out. Consumers know when they’re being spun a line, and in a world where everything you do is open to scrutiny, disingenuous brands just won’t cut the mustard.

Of course, it’s OK to get a little creative in the way you tell your tale, as long as the message is based on fact. And if you get it right, you won’t always have to be the one doing the telling. Brand advocates create their own legends based on what they know your brand to be, if the story’s one that’s worth sharing.

Take the legend of Coca Cola and old Saint Nick. For decades, the story that Santa’s traditionally green outfit turned red thanks to Coke’s ad men has been doing the rounds; in fact, no-one’s ever really determined what the truth is. But whatever it is, Coke is now inextricably linked with Christmas, so it’s a story that’s worth perpetuating. It just feels right for Coke’s target audience.

So what’s the moral of this story?

First, get your narrative right before you even think of briefing an agency (and if you aren’t sure what it is, get someone strategic on board to do it for you).

Second, never be tempted to get in to the pretty pictures and clever creative until you’ve found and honed the truth of your brand.

And finally, gather together reams and reams of engaging content that will prove your story to be true.

Only then will you be on track for your brand’s happy ending.