The power of your brand community relies on the strength of your story. So, how can you effectively spark a story for your start-up brand? Start by deciding which archetype your brand community best defines itself as.
STEP 1: Decide on Your Brand’s Archetype
Identity plays a major role in the story your brand wants to tell because you need to elevate the emotional appeal. Here are 12 basic archetypes your brand should consider:
- The Magician makes dreams come true
- The Sage always seeks the truth
- The Innocent wants to be happy
- The Outlaw seeks revenge and revolution
- The Jester lives in the moment
- The Lover seeks intimacy and relationship
- The Explorer seeks freedom through exploration
- The Ruler wants absolute power
- The Caregiver nurtures you
- The Hero saves the day and proves their worth
- The Everyman realizes a vision
- The Creator craves perfection
Once you decide on your brand’s archetype, make a BOLD promise. Think of your promise as a vehicle that brings your brand to it’s destination: Your Brand Community. If you can’t explain your brand promise in two sentences or less, it’s going to be impossible to extend that story over multiple media platforms and creative techniques.
STEP 2: Transform an Insight into an Emotional Story
Our client, Benzagel is the #1 recommended acne treatment brand by pharmacists across Canada. We posed a meaningful question to Benzagel’s brand community and let them tell their story, asking them: “How do you define your Bestie?” Listening to the emotions of long-lasting friendships between young adults, helped us communicate a key insight:
While you may not need your Bestie to be there every step of the way, a Bestie is always there when you need them. Benzagel’s acne care products aren’t meant to be used all the time, but when you need them, they’re always there to help.
“Branding is about connecting the core values or promises of your brand, with the key expectations of your brand community. These are emotion based expectations”, says Kathryn Hess, Account Strategist at Blade Creative Branding. “We took the Benzagel brand and humanized it by connecting it with the brand community – teenagers who have both humorous and heartfelt stories to share about their Bestie.”
Watch Benzagel’s “Real Besties, Real Stories” motion picture below:
Ultimately, listening to Benzagel’s brand community allowed us to transform an insight into an emotional story, a step that also worked well for Nike’s brand community!
STEP 3: Encourage Your Brand Community to Build on The Emotional Story
In July 2015, Nike decided to kick their marketing up a notch with the story of FLYEASE,“a wrap-around zipper solution that opens at the back of the shoe near the heel, making it easier to slide the foot in and out.” Nike ultimately didn’t need to “create” a story, they only had to “narrate” it.
The “Nike FLYEASE Story,” detailed the struggle of a member from their brand community – a high-school student named Matthew Walzer who has cerebral palsy. With college just around the corner, Matthew didn’t want his parents tying his shoes for him. So, he wrote a letter to Nike explaining his desire to own a more accommodating pair of shoes. From his initial letter, leading up to his meet and greet with NBA superstar Lebron James, Matthew’s story became the inspiration for the idea of the FLYEASE brand of Nike running shoes.
People crave quick, yet meaningful stories. With the FLYEASE Campaign, Nike accomplished both. A simple letter eventually became a short, organic story created by their brand community, for their brand community.
In 2016, the “Nike FLYEASE Story” evolved to the next chapter: “Nike FLYEASE: The Story Continues”. People with cerebral palsy willingly posted themselves unboxing running shoes and sharing their sincere gratitude to Nike, for making their lives so much easier. They even began requesting FLYEASE shoes that could accommodate kids sizes and a wider overall design for ankle foot orthotics. Nike proved you don’t need to look any further than your own brand community to build on your story.
As you set out to create or build on the emotional story for your brand, here are some important questions to ask to help your brand community become connected with it:
- What is the voice, tone and character of your brand?
- How will you connect your story back to what your target audience connects with?
- How can you help people understand how you are helping them?
Once you can answer these questions, your brand will have a more focused approach to sharing its story, rather than pitching your brand and offering little more than a call to action.
STEP 4: Deploy the “Brand Over Product Model”
According to an article by Pagely earlier this year titled: “How Agencies Are Killing it: Advertising Trends for 2018”, a marketing trend that has taken off is the “Brand Over Product” model.
Gone are the days when you would blast message after message on traditional media channels such as print, TV, out of home and radio, hoping it would “stick.” People are now connected to a screen in more ways than one, with mobile playing a major role.
For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of WordPress’ brand community. Businesses – from small, local shops, to bigger accounting and law firms can benefit from using WordPress’s web template to promote their brand. In its campaign “Ode to the Little Things”, WordPress focuses on the lifestyles of the people who matter – the ones who will be buying into their content management platform.
These people are shown in their natural work environments, with only a quick mention of WordPress at the end of the video. Similar to Nike, WordPress listened and told the story in the perspective of their brand community.
STEP 5: Review, Optimize & Redeploy (R.O.R.)
If you’re a startup, your brand community will only grow when the members feel empowered by your brand if you help them feel connected to it. Decide what personality your brand needs to embody from the archetypes to truly connect with the people you want to speak to. Using archetypes is helpful because it simplifies your thinking and inspires creative ideas to evolve the brand narrative.
If your brand has aspirations to move up, but is having difficulty speaking to your brand community, look no further than the core of your brand promise. Read it to yourself and put yourself in the shoes of your brand community to better understand what’s missing. If the promise is taking too long to understand, or you’re simply not connecting with it, then it’s time to rethink what you’re promising!
When done skillfully, your brand community sees itself in your story and is more likely to share their own story. This, in turn, expands your brand narrative to connect with more people, with your brand community building upon your brand narrative.