PULL Inc. Blog

Shared Values in Brand Storytelling.

by Thomson Dawson

in Consumer Insight, Marketing Communications

Shared Values in Brand Storytelling

A shared value is a belief that both the brand and consumer have about a brand’s higher purpose, philosophy, culture and contribution. At the heart of enduring brand storytelling, shared values will be the only reason people will notice, listen and act.

Brands can’t market their way to making people care about the value they claim to provide.  Besides consumers don’t care about your marketing anyway–their attention spans and tolerance grows ever shorter. Clutter grows exponentially.

When what matters (beyond transactions and money-making) is shared between brand and customer, there is no need for selling, convincing, persuading and discounting prices … it’s simply about the resonance of the like-minded. The story of your brand must be born out of the shared values between brand and those who care about it.

To those marketers who still believe consumers really want a “relationship” with their brands, the general consumer in the category doesn’t want a relationship with a brand – they want more discounts!

Brand storytelling reinforces shared values not functional benefits.

Brands can’t share values with everybody–only with some people. As Wayne (actor Mike Meyers) profoundly states in the comedy Wayne’s World “Led Zeppelin didn’t write songs everybody liked, they left that to the Bee-Gees”.  So it is with brand storytelling.

In the outdoor / technical apparel category, Patagonia represents far more value than the functional benefits designed into its technical outerwear products. Functional benefits are the ante in the category.  If you wear stuff that doesn’t meet the ante in the category, you’ll probably freeze to death on your next mountain adventure.

For Patagonia customers who share the brand’s passion for sustainability and environmental stewardship, there simply are no other substitutes. Patagonia’s rich history, founders story, and its authentic and trusted culture, echoes within the heart of the customer through the brand’s story of shared values. Resonance creates preference.

The soul of the Patagonia brand story is where the its real value resides, not in the making and selling of products. Of course these shared values will not resonate with every outdoor enthusiast – some people just want a functional parka at a cheaper price.

Brand storytelling is an echo within the heart of the customer, reinforcing something inwardly familiar and always welcome.

A brand’s enduring value is always baked into shared experiences. When we hear, see or experience something familiar within ourselves we are naturally drawn toward it. That is precisely why brand storytelling is replacing outbound brand marketing.

Accelerated by the digital revolution, the shift has already happened. Enlightened marketers realize that the universal love of stories in not a mere coincidence; our brains function by constructing narratives. Adults and children alike from the dawn of time lived, learned and related to one another through stories. Stories engage the imagination and the emotions.

Storytelling is not something we just happen to do. It is an activity we virtually must do if we want to remember anything at all.

Facts (functional product benefits) presented in story narratives as opposed to bullet point lists, are much easier to remember.  Compelling brand storytelling– with an abundance of metaphors and analogies that draw the audience in– work powerfully because stories allow the audience to tie the story to their own previous knowledge and experience.  Ideas that stir up intense emotions are quickly and easily stored in our brains.  Facts are quickly forgotten.

We recognize through the narrative of brand storytelling that us=them. This principal idea holds true for every iconic and stellar brand. Their products or services representing a symbol of something highly valued and exclusively shared between the makers and the users.

Brand storytelling is not a yarn or tall advertising tale.

Nobody trusts marketing anymore. Customers don’t want more and more marketing messages flooding into their conscious awareness challenging their ever-shrinking attention spans.  More and more brand interactions will not build lasting relationships with customers or consumers. Those days are long over. It’s high time marketers and their advertising agencies realize this and stop the madness of ubiquitous marketing.

In a world where everything is “branded and neatly packaged”, to feel authentic to customers, shared values will be the principal driver in relationship building with brands– not promotion. Your brand’s higher purpose will be the hero of your brand’s story and form the basis of a memorable and lasting connection with your customers.

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