Brands are like people; each has its own unique story. Whether these stories are creative or ordinary, exciting or boring, inspiring or meaningless, often depends on how they are told. There are many ways to tell the story of your brand, but inviting your customers to have a brand experience with its story makes it stand out from the crowd.
Think about how many people and how many brands you interacted with since this morning. You got a cup of coffee, quickly checked your social media accounts, glanced at items that were on display as you walked by shops and passed by cars waiting at the lights.
You liked your coffee, you deleted one of the apps on your phone, the black pair of shoes in the store drew your attention, and you were amazed by the convertible car. In just half an hour, those brands continued their stories and intersected with yours.
Brands, like people, have their own stories that define them.
What makes brands valuable is the connection that people feel toward their stories. Brand stories last throughout the lifetime of brands and brands that share the same values as their customers continue to write more success stories.
In today’s marketing strategies where emotional ties with customers are becoming more valuable, and where customer feedback can be taken instantaneously through social media, the course of a brand story can rapidly change. Therefore, in the era of digital marketing, brand story and brand experience have evolved into an inseparable whole.
Today, the brand story is not a story told in the distant past; it is broadcasted live as a single episode show. Presenting this show in a consistently engaging way for the current audience and all of the potential customers should be considered a priority for the brand marketing strategy. Otherwise, your loss of viewers can be irreversible.
What story to tell?
Mission and vision statements, which are written just for the sake of formality, don’t matter to your customers. Your customers should share your story, internalize it and voluntarily represent your brand everywhere. To make that happen, your audience should be able to experience your story. But how?
- Your story should be realistic: No one expects you to write a saga. If a brand which has close ties to what people experience in real life shares their concerns and makes their customer happy, that proves that the brand is telling a genuine story. Unicorns or dragons can make your brand interesting, but an angry customer looking for your call center won’t be satisfied with the stardust in your story.
- Your story should be unique: Your brand is, and so is your story. Although not strictly dependent on real life; the stories of brands that can transfer everyday events from a different perspective through a creative, fun or emotional framework are unique. What makes your brand one step ahead is to make your users a part of this original experience.
- Your story should be continuous: Your brand may have been around for many years and may have many micro stories that make up the macro, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add more. Nintendo was once producing cards, Shell was a sea shells merchant, Peugeot was designing salt and pepper shakers… Stories grow and change with brands – and of course users – over time. Capturing change and keeping your story up to date is an important marketing goal.
- Your story should be valuable: Dreams and realities must come together in your brand; your brand values should be ones that can be embraced and defended by your customers. For example, if one of your values is being user-friendly, and while on your website, customers are overwhelmed by system errors, then the customer will begin to doubt your story. Similarly, a thermal power plant that claims to be eco-friendly most likely will not have many people who will embrace and defend their story.
Who’s the real hero?
The hero of your brand story is not the founder, company or product. The main hero is the user who experiences the story in their own way. The user experience is not only a digital interface but the combination of brand and customer behavior.
Anyone who comes in contact with your brand, whether or not a customer, should be able to find something about themselves in your story, adopt your values and turn into brand ambassadors, not just customers. This is a transformation that money cannot buy and it becomes a success story in itself.
What you do, what you sell or what you tell, are as valuable as the users can benefit from them. This benefit can be either material or intangible: the brand that offers the most innovative designs, the brand that sells at the most affordable prices and the brand that carries out the best social aid campaigns can have its name written in golden letters.
There is not a single winner of the brand experience race for users, so you should focus on telling your brand story in the best way possible, not trying to be number 1.
What kind of experience should be designed?
There is always a story between brands and customers. It is the choice of brands to be a spectator as their stories are written or to become a good storyteller.
The user experience will take place spontaneously, and the success of the brand in storytelling is to analyze these experiences thoroughly, to manage them, and to improve them as best they can. The user experience design does precisely that.
While marketing focuses on improving the marketability of products or services, experience design gives precedence to how better products and services can be used.
Therefore, products and services with good user experience do their own marketing. When it comes to experience design, the user, product, brand and their interactions should be analyzed in depth.
Get to know the users:
Certainly, creating strong and lasting connections with buyers is vital for brands. Meet with people who enjoy listening to your brand story. Talk with real people who can make a connection with your brand. Moreover, benefit from your products and services and do research on demographic characteristics and behaviors of your customers.
Also, create personas, identify contact points with your brand and focus on how you can mitigate the pain points by drawing customer experience journey maps. Do not separate the true heroes of the story from your focus.
Improve the experience:
Carefully review your customers’ relationships with your brand. Keep in mind that customers who are unsatisfied with your product or services are more likely to raise their voices than the satisfied ones.
First, try to lower these voices with reasonable solutions, then try to eliminate customer dissatisfaction before they occur and then make attempts to improve your existing customers’ experience even further.
The methods you use to overcome these challenges and the solutions you produce will increase the value of your story.
In the beginning, we mentioned the importance of your story not being meaningless, ordinary, and boring. To this end, re-examine existing processes from an innovative and original perspective. Evaluate data from user surveys when developing new processes.
Being creative does not mean you need to ‘rediscover America’ every time. Examine similar methods and best examples; get inspired by the most liked and most useful features of different products and services by users. Don’t forget to test your designs with real users who match your contacts.
The most important rule of being a good storyteller is to keep the listener’s attention alive. Make sure that your experience is able to do that and continues to that. Make sure that your updates on your product and service are based on feedback from your users.
This does not mean that you have to implement every request of your users unconditionally. But it definitely doesn’t sound like a good idea to make a change that is not approved by the majority of your audience.
Keep up to date with trends, content and visual design. Remember, there is no happy ending for your brand story; the most important thing is to keep the story going as long as possible.
Where should I begin?
Your brand’s story has already started with your brand. Maybe the brand was writing the first chapter of your story before you even gave it a name. You may not have customers yet, but you can analyze user research for your products and services.
One of the characteristics of marketing professionals and experience designers is their strong empathy. Put yourself in the place of your future users and try to anticipate their experiences as a customer. Optimize and consolidate potential processes while preparing your business plan.
Every detail in your story may not be written as you expect, but the more risks you can foresee, the more you can take measures. In that way instead of dealing with crisis management, you will be able to devote this time to improve your processes.
You may encounter unexpected obstacles when you build your brand experience. Do not panic; there are surprises in every story, and it actually makes the story exciting.
Don’t give up on your progress, your story will follow you.