You’d have to have been living under a rock for the past three years to have missed the latest generation of marketing experts declaring that cold, transactional marketing is dead and that brands now have to create experiences and emotional connections to win and retain customers. If it boosts conversions and promotes brand loyalty, then we’re ready to embrace it. At The Web Designer Group, we suggest that including your brand story is a good first step towards engaging with customers on an emotional level. People remember stories. It’s the way we learn as children and when it comes to creating a brand, a story can be even more powerful than a great logo or company name.
Where should you display your story when planning the web site design? There is no right answer. It could be a short paragraph on the Home or Contact Us page, or it could feature on an About Us page. Most brands tell their story on their website, but consolidate it over time by consistently posting mentions on social media about how the company was launched from a bedroom with £500 or the lightbulb moment when the founder realised they could save the planet.
If you are selling socks or yoghurt, why does it matter that people relate to your brand? There’s an old saying that ‘people buy from people they like’. Most of us can relate to that. Sometimes a sales assistant is so helpful that we feel obliged to make a purchase just because they put so much effort in. Conversely, we also know that consumers will happily buy from faceless corporations without any personal interaction or emotional connection. Amazon, Asos and many other brands have successfully achieved volume sales with this business model. People don’t buy from Amazon because they are fans of Jeff Bezos. Their decision-making is based on convenience, speed or price. However, having a brand story that customers can empathise with, is a powerful tool for a start-up competing with giants. Think of a garden centre selling plants and seeds. A local garden centre promises to hand-pick your plants to a specified height, their website features a photo of their smiling team and a banner proudly proclaiming 75 years of service to the local community. Compare that to shopping online for plants and seeds with a nationwide DIY store. It’s easy to understand why some people are willing pay a little extra to shop with a smaller or local supplier. Being a small company is often a positive – use it to your advantage at every opportunity.
Here’s a useful exercise. Take a look at a few brands which you think have spun a web of messaging and ideas around their product, that go far beyond the actual product. Research the brands you like and work out if they tell their story or not.
Some of the best-known brand stories bring the founder into the spotlight. Others champion the underdog. A brand story often reinforces that the company exists because it was founded to solve a problem, or to bring a community together, or to address an ethical concern.
Boohoo is a brand which recently lost share value, its major sales distribution channels and millions of customers due to a scandal relating to worker conditions. If your company was caught is a similar scandal could it survive? Sometimes, writing a brand story helps to identify the positives of your business. In the same way that writing a mission statement (another painful task) can force you to assess the reason you are in business.
Don’t despair if your brand doesn’t have an interesting start. Many brands, such as Nike, latch on to the stories of others. In Nike’s case, they piggy-back on the stories of inspiring athletes and sports stars such as Michael Jordan. Or brands create an artificial theme around their brand, where one didn’t naturally exist, such as supporting diversity and inclusion.
Your story should:
1. Be truthful
Consumers aren’t stupid and neither are journalists. If your brand makes the big time, expect it to come under scrutiny at some point. Start out truthful and stay truthful. Interestingly, many entrepreneurs are reluctant to be honest about their journey. Perhaps they worked for another company while bootstrapping the business and the start was painful and complicated rather than exciting. Perhaps they feel that the origin isn’t exciting or original. A good PR professional or marketer will find an angle for every start up story. If you can’t afford professional help, and let’s be honest, most entrepreneurs can’t at the early stages – ask yourself these questions:
- What problem did my company aim to solve?
- Who were the important players in the journey, without which the company wouldn’t be successful today?
- What were the obstacles at each step of the journey and how did we overcome them?
- Were there any pivotal moments that changed the course of the company’s journey?
2. Use a consistent brand voice
To create an emotional connection with your target customer, your brand should appeal to them on all levels. Brand voice encompasses all communication with your customers, from web page copy, to social media posts, to confirmation emails about delivery slots. If your company and a competitor deliver equally on product, price, quality, customer service and convenience, then the only other differential is emotion. How can you make your company more enticing when the competition offer equal value? Work out what your customers might be missing. Do they want more trust signals, have fun during the process, be inspired, be rewarded, feel supported or feel valued? Work out what you can do, that your competitors aren’t doing.
Subtle and subliminal, a well-developed brand voice can create a loyal following and encourage customers to share and recommend you. Better peer reviews, trust elements such as accreditations and awards, clear product or service descriptions, colours, fonts and many more factors contribute to both subliminal and overt messaging that your company is the one that customer should use and return to. Think about the brands that you use regularly. What makes them your go-to brand?
Author: Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars
Great marketers don’t talk about features or benefits. They tell stories. In All Marketers Are Liars, Seth Godin shines a light on how marketers create stores—as well as lies and frauds— that have an impact on the lives of many, for better or for worse. This book teaches us how to build a brand and craft a story for today’s business.
A good website designing agency will elevate and amplify your brand story. At The Web Designer Group our creative team look forward to bringing your brand to life.