Yesterday afternoon I was jonesin’ for a big, fat, juicy burger. These days, I am not limited to the usual suspects of fast food chains. That’s right, these days, I can truly “have it my way” with the vast choice of burger bar style restaurants that have sprung up in the past few years.
Biting into my elk burger with artichokes, lettuce and tomato on a pretzel bun slathered with spicy mustard, I smiled to myself. The burger bar model is all about catering to me, the customer. All of the decisions are literally in my hands – from the type of meat, to the type of bun, to the enormous selection of toppings and special sauces.
My burger is personally suited to my taste, delivering exactly the flavors I want and therefore making my life just a little bit easier. Each component of the burger on its own is not something that would satiate my hunger, but when I put them together, they add up to a meal.
BYOB (Build Your Own Burger) is like BYOBS (Build Your Own Brand Story)
Believe it or not, building your own burger is not so different from building your own brand story. First of all, do not say that your brand doesn’t have a story; every brand has a story. Your brand story is made up of components (just like a great burger) that add up to something delicious! Second, your brand story is not about your product, it is about the customer and how they can relate to your product. Just like the burger bar, your brand story should cater to the customer.
Bestselling author and Brand Story/Marketing Strategist, Bernadette Jiwa, says it best when she says, “Creating a brand story…is about building something that people care about and want to buy into.” (1) (Or, as I like to say, “BITE into.”)
BYOBS: The Atmosphere = Totally “Cazh”
As in, casual. Just like the atmosphere of a burger bar is real and authentic, so should be your storytelling style! If I went to a burger bar and was greeted at the door by a stuffy and pretentious vibe, it is not likely that I would stay. Same thing goes for your brand story. Neil Patel and Ritika Puri of Quicksprout sum up this idea quite nicely:
“If you are overly formal or on guard, you’ll lose trust with your audience…Pretend that you’re talking to a new friend over drinks or coffee – not giving an academic presentation in 1862. If you talk down to your customers…they’re going to stop listening immediately.” (2)
By keeping your style conversational, your customers will feel included. AND –
Don’t. Obsess. Over. Perfect. Grammar.
BYOBS: The “Meat” = How did you get started?
The meat is the core foundation of the story, best told through your humble beginnings. Everyone has to start somewhere and everyone loves an underdog. Did you start from nothing? Just an idea and a dream? What problems and needs in the world sparked your creative mind to come up with your product? How long did it take to get off the ground? Were there doubters? How did you overcome adversity? These are just some questions you can ask yourself to get started.
BYOBS: The “Toppings” = Company Culture / Values / Goals
The toppings are what add texture and flavor to a burger, making it unique and setting it apart from your average burger on a bun. That is exactly what your company’s culture, values and goals do for your brand story. Culture, values and goals are the lettuce, tomato and onion of your brand!
Remember to always keep the customer top of mind. What are the beliefs and values of the company and how are they reflected in the customer’s experience? For example, one of the values that Zappos identifies with their culture is “Create Fun and A Little Weirdness.” By not just saying this but committing to it, that value is reflected in their brand and becomes part of their brand story. (3)
BYOBS: The “Special Sauces” = Customer Success Stories
The mere fact that the word “special” is in the name of this component means something: it’s special! On it’s own, special sauce does not have a vehicle in which it can express its greatness; however, when added to the almighty burger, it can easily become the star.
Just as a well-crafted sauce shines because of how it enhances the flavors of all of the components that make up the burger, a well-crafted customer success story enhances the brand story. Barbara Bix of Marketing Profs points out some of the key benefits of including customer success stories within your brand story:
- Raise awareness of your firm’s services
- Elevate your company above the competition by associating your brand with the brands of your high-profile customers.
- Build confidence that your solutions work as promised. (4)
The most powerful brand storytelling showcases the customer and, in doing so, also showcases itself.
BYOBS: The “Bun” = Annual Reports
While I am aware that “skinny” style (burger sans bun) is popular these days, is it really a burger if it doesn’t have a bun? No! It’s a salad. The bun is a key component when it comes to making a burger, a burger; it serves as the container for all of the other ingredients.
When it comes to your brand story, your annual report makes an excellent bookend for the rest of your story. It’s factual data that validates and best of all, it can be told creatively!
Case Study: Eyeware retailer, Warby Parker.
What: Turned their annual report into an online calendar in 2013, including significant occurrences within each 24-hour period.
Ace in the Hole: These listed “occurrences” were not limited to company successes but also included very human slipups as well as fun and quirky employee facts.
Result: Post-release of the report, Warby Parker experienced record sales days (according to Ad Age). (5)
By not only highlighting their successes but also including their mistakes and eccentricities, they made themselves more relatable to the customer. Human beings appreciate vulnerability, honesty and humor. Warby Parker hit it out of the park and increased sales by turning a usually mundane spreadsheet of data into a creative and valuable piece of their brand story.
Hungry for a Great Brand Story? Your Customers are Starving.
You already possess all of the ingredients needed to make up a great brand story, every brand does; the amazing thing is how few actually “BYOBS.” Your customers are human beings first, who want to relate to other human beings. Authentic and real brand storytelling is one of the most effective ways to do this.
I finished every single last morsel of my elk burger yesterday and therefore I was, as my grandmother used to say, “a member of the clean plate club.” May all of your customers be members of the clean plate club too, when it comes to the story of your brand.
Brand Storytelling is vital to the success of your brand because of the connection-building power that it contains. Powerful connections = loyalty and trust, two things you cannot buy but have everything to do with the livelihood of your brand and your ROI. To learn more, click here.
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