Do these 3 things to tell more powerful brand stories


I believe every brand has a story to tell; some brands just tell it better than others. Telling a brand story doesn’t mean you have to stick to it forever, you have to evolve you don’t have to change your story but you can change how is been said or completely change what you were saying (this is called re-branding). If your story doesn’t sell your brand anymore then it’s time to change it!

Let’s analyze coca-cola, or coke as it is fondly known. Since its inception in 1886, coca-cola has had over 40 brand payoffs or slogans. Ranging from “Coke adds life” to “red, white and you” to “It’s the real thing” before the 90’s. The 90’s kicked and it did not stop, from the popular “Always coca-cola” to “The coke side of life” in 2015 “Open happiness” and in 2016 “Taste the feeling”. Bear in mind that these are not campaigns (Share a coke, Coke Santa, Coke Studio), they are brand stories that are beyond the product. They tell this so well that when you hear “Open Happiness” outside the context of the brand what you think of is Coke.

You have to understand your brand and project that understanding in the form of a story. This is an important step to getting the brand awareness. You want people to see your logo, or hear your company and immediately associate that with you. Your brand story is more than just your payoff. Your payoff is the one sentence you can deduce from your mission, vision, goals, and most importantly your audience. For example, you want your brand to signify power, strength, physical abilities, how to you get to this point? You have to tell your brand story. Here’s how

1. Internal considerations

No one tells your story better than your employees (staff, stakeholders, managers, and laborers) consciously or unconsciously they humanize your brand. Your work culture, how they dress, values, and orientation (success and goal driven). Creating a positive workplace culture will lead to positive employee morale, which will lead to increased productivity, which will lead to stability in your workforce. Another way to create a uniform and stable brand is to create a persona for your company. Is your company masculine or feminine? Is it straight-laced or kooky? Your voice will use your common language to connect with your employees who will then create a positive workplace culture.

This also ties right into the voice you will use when portraying your brand externally. Many companies forget that part of creating a brand is having a distinguishable voice, so you need to have this in mind as soon as possible. An example is Gulder, it has one of the strongest brand stories. Its payoff is “the ultimate beer”, without been told you know the brand is a man, a strong powerful man, physical build, go-getter, hard working, ambitious and passionate. Ever wonder why you never see a woman in their ads or why a woman never won Gulder ultimate search in all of its seven or eight seasons? The brand story says “the ultimate beer” and it has to be the ultimate man (no offense intended at the feminist) but its target audience are men.

2. Sharing Your story

Now that you’ve clearly defined your position, audience, language, voice, culture, values and beliefs. It’s time to tell your audience and telling it right the first time is just as important as the bringing the story together in the first place. You have seconds (maybe 10 or less) to get your audience’s attention, keep it and be remembered. So your brand story must be short, interesting, easy to understand, memorable and persuasive. Your brand story should be so good that if someone sees or hear your story and doesn’t understand, then you are not talking to them. It has to clearly state what you are selling to them, why you are targeting them and how it will make their life better.

Make it memorable. I still remember jingles from when I was young and I’ve seen ads that have gone viral just because they are memorable. Mimee noodles’ boom sha sha was hummed everywhere by both young and old. Now that’s memorable.

All of your branding efforts is not to entertain, that’s Wizkid’s and Olamide’s job. You are trying to sell a product or service, so this has to be clearly stated. Why your product is better than your competition and the benefits of switching or staying loyal to your product are all part of your brand story.

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Where, how and who shares your story

For your message to be as effective as planned you need an equally effective messenger. Brands need to have a consistent, recognizable, likable face or voice backing their brand. That’s why you have the concept of brand ambassadors; you don’t want some fat pot-bellied wealthy man telling you to go grab a bottle of Gulder, in as much as his success is something you might want but it will definitely look more appealing if an Uti or one of the P-Square brothers told you to do so. Brands rely on them to be the face of their product. Conduct is of essence here.

3. Stick With the Story

Once you’ve created your brand – once you’ve really asked yourself “Why do we do what we do? How do we do what we do? and “Who do we do it for?” – Then you stick to it. Every communication after this is a vehicle to deliver your brand messaging, so use it! Emails, TV commercials, radio jingles, press releases, social media, webinars, conferences, brand ambassador are all channels, which your brand can ride to get to your audience. Create your brand story and tell it to people. See what happens and tweak when necessary (changing payoff, redesigning the logo, changing brand colour). The more you do it, the more memorable and evolving your brand will be.

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Let your audience in and re-engage at the end. Whether it’s a speaking engagement or running a campaign, engage your audience throughout your journey and remember to make it memorable and easy to understand.

Brands require a lot of time to build and even more time to maintain. Companies often have to re-brand and it is those moments when you take your head out of the cluster and look at the big picture (sometimes you have to create a blue ocean). Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it? What does that mean to your audience? What do you want it to mean to your audience? Never stop asking questions – once you get comfortable, then you know it’s time to change the game.

Your turn to tell us which Nigerian brands you think have good stories. Let us know in the comment box below