Business development 3 May 2018

Has the rise of the brand story hit its peak?

the brand story
Jack Daniels has a long history of telling its brand story on the London Underground

Writing for Business Advice, Mark Scully, founder of marketing consultancy Learn Inbound, discusses the rise of the brand story and considers whether it’s still important for consumers to buy into heritage.

Brand stories were, and some may argue are, something most businesses across the globe took very seriously. Letting customers know the evolution of their story; where they came from, how they got to where they are and what it is they did is often broadcasted to potential customers as a priority.

The idea is that if customers know the ins and outs of a brand’s story then maybe they may feel more personally invested in the product or service and therefore, more willing to part with money to purchase it.

With many brands often now competing over the same customers, the question must be asked; is brand story still important or has it hit its peak?

Limited attention span

With most of the globe now connected via the internet (3.58bn users as of 2017) and brands advertising to all of them one way or another through adverts on websites, their social media channels or at the start of videos, it’s no surprise that consumers have a limited attention span when it comes to businesses and their stories.

Potential customers do not want to read a three-page spread on how a business was started or how they became so successful. Brand stories, if they are used, need to be short and snappy for them to be worth investing time and resources into.

Consumers have limited time and this should always be taken into account.

Good service above all

A brand story is all well and good, but what consumers want, above everything else, is great service and an amazing product.

A company’s story might be the best thing to be bestowed onto this world; it could be Oscar-worthy, but if the service is terrible and their product leaves a lot to be desired, then no one is going to be interested.

Brands need to keep this in mind when they begin to sort what element of their business they want to prioritise. Service should always come before brand story.

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Distrust

Consumers have become increasingly more cynical with the growth of the internet. Everyone and anyone can become a detective and pick apart a brand’s story, should they have attempted to stretch the truth or use something incredibly underwhelming and tried to dress it up, which is exactly what Jack Daniels did recently.

They placed a series of posters around London underground which painted a story wherein the creator of the whisky sent a barrel to Queen Victoria, a notorious lover of scotch according to this advert. The poster goes on to divulge that, as the Queen never responded, they are unsure if the barrel was ever received or even tasted; but they still decided to headline this story, in big bold letters, “Whiskey Fit For A Queen” hence trying to make royalty part of their brand story, even though it was just that they felt it was good enough for her majesty.

The issue is, with competition being so fierce, brands feel as if they need to make their story even more bombastic and ridiculous than the last, which will lead to them needing to lie or bend the truth.

Potential customers are smart and will see through these lies, so is there much point in telling them in the first place?

Millennials

Millennials, the most sought after market for brands across the country, do not care about where brands come from. They don’t go to Google to find out what “Shein” is or how “Forever 21” came to be; they just want the website to be good, the method of purchase to be easy and for the items they desire to arrive to them as quickly as possible. If they see a brand pop up in their Facebook newsfeed enough times, they’ll probably grow to trust it without even realising they have.

Some brands do successfully create a personality; an example of this is Innocent, which has developed a unique tone of voice on their products, website and on their social media channels; but even though millennials may enjoy reading their updates, it is highly unlikely any of them give a monkeys about where the company came from.

Everyone’s giving it a go

There was a time where brand story wasn’t commonplace, which made the companies that were painting a picture of their history stick out from the crowd. However, in the current climate and with everyone jumping on the bandwagon, it’s difficult to get a business seen.

It might be time for brands to stop focusing so much on their history and instead look towards the future, brainstorming ideas that other businesses have yet to think of and concentrating on the marketing that is going to deliver customers; instead of trying to show off their heritage.

Mark Scully is the founder of Learn Inbound

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