Your customers are exposed to branding everywhere. Storytelling is one way to connect your brand and customer journey so that your product or service stands out. This article rounds up some great examples to illustrate the power of brand stories.
Brand storytelling can have a real impact throughout the customer’s journey from awareness, to consideration, to making their decisions. Well-crafted brand stories can help you to evoke emotions, demonstrate you care about more than making a quick buck, and involve your audience on a deeper level with your brand values (hello, corporate social responsibility!). Let’s take a look at some standout storytelling examples.
As Jonah Sachs, author of “Winning the Story Wars,” puts it the old approach “exalt your product and tell your audiences why they need it now” no longer works. He cites Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches as an example of successfully shifting from broadcasting brand messaging to storytelling to build awareness and loyalty.
The Real Beauty Sketches connected brand to customer journey through life as a woman. In one, a forensic artist asked the women to describe their own faces. Then, someone else was asked to describe that woman’s face. The two sketches revealed side by side illustrated the difference between how women perceive themselves and others perceive them.
Why do they work? Because they craft myth and make the consumer the hero. The company’s website today features many offshoots of the 2013 Real Beauty campaign, which seeks to celebrate women’s uniqueness.
Warby Parker Eyewear
Warby Parker’s brand history tells consumers, “Every idea starts with a problem. Ours was simple: Glasses are too expensive.” When a student, one of the founders, lost his glasses on a backpacking trip and spent a semester “squinting and complaining” because they were too costly to replace. The mission “to demonstrate that a business can scale, be profitable, and do good in the world—without charging a premium for it” was born.
The company also donates a portion of its monthly profits to make eye care more affordable in developing countries, which further helps to position Warby Parker as not only an underdog but a Robin Hood. Their narrative netted a lot of initial coverage from the media, and has earned them ongoing loyalty from, as Marketing Insider Group puts it, “every hipster with less than 20/20 vision.”
Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow” video featured the titular character touring a depressing factory city dominated by Crow Foods Incorporated then returning to a small farm to realize the difference fresh vegetables can make. With Fiona Apple covering “Pure Imagination” in a haunting way until the energy picks up with the picking of the first bright red pepper, the animated video culminates with message “Cultivate a Better World.”
The storytelling is meant to establish Chipotle’s commitment to sustainability and reflects its customers’ increased interest in information about ethical food sourcing. Presenting it as a story made a difference. As Marketing Evolution noted, “This story-focused asset was shared millions of times more than a standard page with a list of the ingredients Chipotle offers ever would.”
Adding a Scarecrow video game component also helped to keep the story alive, especially among younger consumers. The brand’s Chief Marketing Officer Mark Crumpacker stated,“We created ‘The Scarecrow’ game and film as an entertaining and engaging way to help people better understand the difference between processed food and the real thing.”
At its most basic, SoulCycle offers a spin cycle class with some added fitness elements and a curated playlist. Yet, the storytelling around the brand keeps the customers coming back to each pricey class.
SoulCycle marketing offers people looking for a new cardio class a chance at transformation. The story goes that the brand was started by two women looking for a fitness routine that “made their hearts sing.” In their ongoing marketing they share Soul Stories introducing other riders and instructors who have converted to SoulCycle and feel part of something bigger.
As one case study evaluation of SoulCycle’s storytelling success noted, “Instead of relying on a large marketing budget for traditional media placements (e.g. TV commercials, magazine adverts, etc.), SoulCycle built a brand story that never wavered and was used within every aspect of their brand presence.” It’s the story of empowerment, encouraging the individual to focus not on what’s missing but rather on what’s possible.
Beardbrand founder Eric Bandholz shares his story on the company’s About Us page. “I launched Beardbrand as a way to unite beardsmen and build a community… Ultimately, the goal was to provide the tools necessary for men to feel confident about growing their beard, and I also wanted to end the negative stereotypes about beardsmen being lazy or unkempt.”
Beardbrand started out posting instructional YouTube videos in 2012, and the channel has grown to 1.92 million subscribers as of Sept 1, 2022. Different members of the Beardbrand team, including Bandholz, have their own videos letting viewers learn about the individuals (and their beards) behind the brand as well.
In writing about the Beardbrand success with storytelling, Stephanie Jiroch noted, “brand storytelling is best done when you immerse yourself in the world of your target market and become one with the consumer.”