Laura Petrolino

Which Brand Storytelling Persona are You?

By: Laura Petrolino | July 5, 2016 | 
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Which Brand Storytelling Personality Are You?By Laura Petrolino

Do you see the world through rose colored glasses? Or blue? Or green? Or…..

As communicators our role is to understand the “color” of the glasses our target consumers use.

Until we understand this, we can’t clearly develop an effective brand storytelling strategy or communications plan—one that produces a message that resonates with consumers directly, encourages them to pay attention to your brand and your content, and eventually compels a purchase decision.

Stories Shape Our World

These different colored lenses through which our consumers see the world around them are their frames.

For this reason, framing is a very important part of effective communications.

Our understanding of them must drive the brand storytelling strategy we create and the messaging we consistently push forward.

Frames are made up of a combination of experiences, environment, culture and beliefs, and current situations.

Not one person sees the world in the same way, but there are similarities among many different groups of consumers.

To craft an solid communications strategy, you must first understand the frame from which your target audience looks.

Several months ago, I discussed three approaches brands could take for effective brand storytelling—or in essence, to tell stories through the right frames.

Frames that motivate action among their target consumers.

We received a lot of questions after that post about the three different brand storytelling buckets I outlined:

  1. Reinforcer;
  2. Supporter; and
  3. Challenger.

Today I want to dig deeper into the first two—reinforcer and supporter.

Challenger brands are much more difficult to pull off well and will be covered in a follow-up post all to their own.

Brand Storytelling as a Reinforcer

Do you have that one friend who thinks just like you?

You all are super close because he or she just understands the way you think and you have similar perspectives on life.

They will back you up in any situation and help further reinforce the tendencies you have—both good and bad.

If this friend were a brand, he would be your reinforcer.

In brand storytelling, these brands tell stories which reinforce their audience’s world view.

This instantly develops a feeling of trust, and also helps the consumer feel closer to the brand.

This messaging strategy works well for highly niche-focused brands that very, very clearly understand their consumers needs, wants, and pain-points.

Pros of being a reinforcer brand:

  • Consumer trust
  • Stories resonate
  • Ease of community building
  • Consumer can be extremely well targeted
  • Strategy can be streamlined because most qualified leads will consume information in similar ways

Cons of being a reinforcer brand:

  • Conversion from community member to buyer is often difficult: Often consumers simply enjoy being part of your community but need to be presented with clear calls to action to convert. Reinforcer brands often make the mistake of not doing this.
  • You will alienate many consumers: Because a reinforcer brand is highly niche and targeted, you will turn away some consumers who might not be your exact target, but still could potentially be buyers.

Brand Storytelling as a Supporter

Supporter brands are your cheerleaders. They help reinforce change.

Brand storytelling for supporter brands push forward behavior change—whether that be as simple as product change or as detailed as lifestyle change. The supporter approach works well for new concepts and innovations, as well as anything which challenges and empowers consumers to improve or modify behaviors.

Pros of being a supporter brand:

  • Stories are empowering: Empowering and inspirational stories work well for these brands, and are wonderfully sticky and sharable.
  • New and shiny: Supporter brands present products or services which are new and shiny (even if they really aren’t, the messaging presents them this way). Which people like (especially those in your target audience) and naturally gravitate to.
  • The target market often defines themselves: Some people are ready for change, some aren’t. Supporter brand storytelling attracts the right people to you.

Cons of being a supporter brand:

  • Resistance to change: While the idea of change can be exciting, actually doing it can be overwhelming and human nature is resistant to change. Conversion to leads might be easy, but to sales extremely difficult. Buyers will also have a tendency to not follow through or continue. Supporter brands must have a very effective lead nurturing strategy, which continues after the sale to prevent both of these circumstances.
  • Difficulty with emotional messaging: Messaging must be challenging and persuasive, while comforting, supportive, and educational. This can often be a very fine line to walk and organizations must be very clear and consistent on brand voice and messaging with all team member and consumer touch points.

What Type of Brand Storytelling Works Best for You?

Your organization might fall clearly into one of these buckets or you might slightly overlap on some perspectives.

You wan to be clear on your goal and how the approach chosen affect your target consumer (and their perspective).

Brand storytelling is only effective when it motivates something inside the consumer that makes them want to take action of some sort.

As communicators, our goal is to figure out the approach which works best to motivate that action and encourage our consumers to join our story.

A version of this post originally appeared in Muck Rack

Image Credit: Pixabay

About Laura Petrolino


Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

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