Creating brand stories

Hi everyone, I am currently a student and I am learning about branding. What are the essential things that are needed to be included in a brand story? Any tips and resources would be greatly appreciated too!

Above all, the client’s story, above all else.

Learning to listen what the client has to say, knowing what questions to ask to get the information you need and then interpreting that in such a way that it speaks to their audience in the right tone of voice.

All sounds so simple when you say it like that.

Read Wally Olins, On Brand

Well, it sounds like you’re looking for some(one’s) list of “essential things”. But, what you should be seeking is your own formulation of items that would persuade you.

What kind of things make a brand endearing?

The relatable founder’s back story (and resulting brand vision).

I would modify what Sprout wrote to include what he said in his second paragraph — the client’s story as it relates to the customer.

Take Levi Strauss, Harley Davidson, Coca-Cola, the British Royal Family, or Adidas. Each of these has a rich history and backstory that permeates the brand.

Their customers or followers aren’t simply buying a pair of pants or a soft drink; they’re buying a rich legacy that is meaningful to them. That legacy isn’t a recitation of the brand’s history; it’s the emotional qualities and connections associated with it.

There is no list of things that must be included in a brand’s story. Every brand is different and each has a story that is somehow relevant to its customers and adherents.

I wouldn’t take the word story too literally, either. We’re not talking about an actual story that spells out the company’s history. Instead, we’re talking about the story of how the brand is meaningful and relevant to its customers.

Brands can’t easily be concocted out of thin air either; they must be authentic. The only exception I can think of is the ice cream brand, Häggen-Daz. The company was founded in New York City, but a vaguely sounding European name with an odd spelling, complete with a meaningless Umlaut, made it seem exotic, as though there must be an interesting, decades-long history (that didn’t actually exist).

Brand stories can also turn disastrous. Take Bill Cosby. For years, he was admired as a great example of a human being until the public became aware of how he abused dozens of women. Now his brand story involves being a serial rapist who everyone despises.

Also, consider what Elon Musk has done to Twitter’s brand story. He’s taken a brand that was loved (in a sense) even by the people who loved to hate it. Twitter’s blue bird even spawned its own vocabulary for posts — tweets and retweets. Now, all that has been inexplicably erased and replaced by a generic X. Maybe someday (if X survives), Twitter’s destruction will become part of its brand story. For now, though, it’s a prime example of how to destroy a brand story.

That, there from Just-B is what you need to know. Job done.

I was trying too hard to be economic last night. It was late, I was tired, so I’m afraid, I got an bit lazy.

Definitely, the emotional thing is incredibly important. Ultimately, people buy emotionally. They think they don’t; that they do their research and due diligence and make objective, rational decisions. Of course, that’s a large part of it, but oftentimes, people end up buying because either, the emotional capital of the company fits a personal or aspirational narrative they hold, or their own personal backstory dictates nostalgically.

Even yesterday, I found myself subject to it. I am in the market for a new printer. I narrowed things down to three, from three different manufacturers that would do,what I need. I found myself leaning towards a particular one because most (including the first) I have ever bought, were made by this particular company. IT’S A PRINTER! How on Earth do we ascribe emotional responses to the most impersonal, unemotional of objects? Yet, we do and an effective brand will capitalise on this and foster loyalty.

Im a sucker for Alfa Romeos. I’ve had several over the years. They make machines. Granted machines that make you smile, but machines, all the same.

For me, my penchant feeds in to my personal history and heritage. That is something Alfa’s brand can’t control, but Alfa is also, summer drives along tha Amalfi coast, Sophia Loren in 1950s Monaco, Cinzano and antipasti at a Torino bar with smiling friends, La Dolce Vita. Not to mention racing heritage and prowess, I could go on… turn the ignition key and that twin-spark engine note has all of those expectations baked-in.

As Just-B rightly says, it has to be honest. A brand lie or false claim will soon trip you up. Creative back-painting is one thing, but out and out fabrication will see a brand fall over quicker than you can issue a mitigating press release.

Anyway, in complete contrast to last night, I am rambling now and risk repeating what Just-B has already said.

1 Like

That is an absolutely perfect example of a brand and the story that goes along with it.

While writing this, I’m wearing a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans.

Why? My father always wore Levi’s on our family ranch when I was younger. They’re tied together with cattle, horses, sheep, and sagebrush as part of my Western U.S. upbringing and heritage. His father wore Levi’s jeans when he herded cattle and rode horses. I have the old pocket watch sitting about ten feet from me that he kept in the little watch pocket in his Levi’s — the same pocket where I keep my motorcycle key. My other grandfather wore Levi’s when he worked in the Nevada copper and gold mines in the early 1900s — I’ve seen the photos.

I could easily buy a cheaper brand or switch to slacks, shorts, or whatever. Some days, I wear something else, but it never feels right. I always switch back to my Levi’s as soon as possible because this dang brand is tied to me in an emotionally personal way. It’s part of Levi’s brand story and my own.

Your personal story is exactly the brand story that Levi’s spent millions building and one that I bet 99% of people who wear them have bought into when they pull them on in downtown metropolitan apartments.

I fell in the other camp. When I was a kid, I spent my childhood in indestructible Wranglers.The punishment I gave them must have been the kind of stress testing that few pairs of jeans would stand up to today.

The problem now, is – and this is where I become my own grandfather – that they don’t make ’em like they used to. The weight of material, the build quality just doesn’t seem to be there. Recently, I bought another pair, hoping to find the same hard-wearing ruggedness. Even wranglers had a percentage of stretch denim in them and you’d never be able to fall out if a tree without ripping them to shreds.

Are 501s still the same as they were?

That is where brands risk shooting themselves in the foot. They build these rugged brands and then, secure in their market, start cutting costs and reducing quality. All of a sudden the brand story is all they have. I would be pushed to buy more wranglers.

Even Alfas still make fun cars, but they aren’t the same. The second they put a Diesel engine in an Alfa Romeo, I actually remember laughing out loud. They are all about the 2-litre twin-spark or 3-litre v6 engines, that deliver the most spine tingling performance. A diesel in an Alfa is ridiculous. That becomes more about marketing and brand bull, than feeding into what they are actually all about.

Same as most 4x4s. These days, most of them will never see a muddy field, or a mountain pass. Over here they are disparagingly referred to as Chelsea Tractors. The most they do is take little Jocasta and Samuel to their private kindergarten.

Until last year, I had a Jeep Cherokee XJ. I’d had it for 21 years. Cost me almost nothing in repairs. Built like a tank and has got me out of a few scrapes up mountains and filling it with silly amounts of logs to be chainsawed up for winter. Sadly, I don’t need it any more, so it was time for it to go to someone who does. There’s another good ten years in it. That’s their brand. That’s what jeeps do – or rather, did. I doubt recent ones would be able to do what that old thing did. All that plastic cowling would last 30 seconds off road.

As for land rovers they are so expensive, you wouldn’t dream of putting them near rocky ground.

Brand only goes so far. You have to back up the bull, or the reality belies the story. When the product becomes so tailored to the convenience and vanity of the people who aspire to the story, that the product loses its core value, then you are in real trouble,

Or you rebranded . ‘The new Landjeep Hamptons – now with limited slip-dif and 450 lbs-ft of torque to get you to the champagne reception in time for the sevruga canapés.’