When marketing is done right, brands can have incredible impact for organisations. Think of the likes of Nike and Ben & Jerry’s. The mere mention of these names can conjure vivid images of who they are and what they stand for— and this branding has translated to an incredibly passionate group of supporters too! A huge factor in the success of these brands is the fact they have a genuine brand story that they effectively communicate with their audience. A brand story conveys the history, purpose, and values of a business in a narrative that resonates with consumers and makes audiences feel emotionally connected.
It’s clear that if you want your social enterprise to succeed, at some stage you will have to build a brand story for your own organisation to communicate your purpose and product. This is an eventuality that could give the strongest among us nightmares, but it need not be so scary. In this blog, we discuss how organisations build brands and how you can do this for your own social enterprise.
Let’s start at the beginning, if your organisation was a person, would you be able to describe its personality in three words? It’s not rare for social entrepreneurs to not have thought of this, so if it’s news to you, don’t fret! These three words can give you the basis through which to build your brand and how you might communicate this to potential customers.
Also, at this stage it’s very beneficial to be clear about what a brand is exactly. According to author and entrepreneur, Seth Godin, a brand is “the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a customer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Strong brands are iconic; they build emotional connections with their customers. And they are subject to change and develop over time. Even in general, brands have shifted massively over the last few decades. Thirty years ago, top brands symbolized power, authority, and prestige. Nowadays, consumer interests have shifted from one of social status to social good. Therefore, social innovators have a competitive advantage!
Storytelling is one of the most effective ways to differentiate your brand, establish an emotional connection with your target audience, and build a base of loyal customers/clients. What differentiates strong brands from the rest of the pack is that strong brands build emotional connections with their audience. Deep emotional engagement comes from storytelling. Humans have been using it for thousands of years to impart knowledge, reinforce values, and strengthen connections between people. Stories are how we learn and remember. So, there’s no need to re-write the play book on this! Through story-telling, the concept you manage to communicate to your audience becomes your brand story. Your brand story is a narrative that connects your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.
Another type of story that can be communicated to your audience and is more relevant to social enterprises than regular commercial enterprises is an impact story. This is similar to a case study, putting a face or name on your enterprise, bringing its mission to life and providing a glimpse into the lives of individuals or communities who benefit from your work. Most commonly, these are told from the perspective of an individual or representative of a group/community.
TYPES OF BRAND STORIES
In general, there are five main types of brand/impact stories which you can find below. Have a look and take a moment to think about which might be most applicable to you and your organisation. If you have the perseverance to communicate this message with your audience over a period of time, very often it will resonate with them and may lead to increased exposure and sales.
Five types of brand story:
- ORIGIN STORY: The history of your social enterprise. Who are you? Why was your social enterprise established? What are your values?
- FOUNDER’S JOURNEY: What inspired your founder to establish the enterprise, and what is their vision for change?
- BENEFICIARY’S STORY: Focus on the challenges a beneficiary face and how you are helping them to overcome those challenges.
- VOLUNTEER/STAFF STORY: What motivates a volunteer or member of staff to work for your social enterprise? What impact do they have to have?
- MANIFESTO STORY: Explanation of the social and economic issues your social enterprise is trying to address. What is your theory of change? What are the challenges and what is your approach? What impact have you made?
Remember, the most compelling stories glow with authenticity. Don’t create stories for the sake of staying relevant or speaking to a trend. Instead, stay true to your brand’s identity. Use your brand’s history, motivations and values as your guiding principles. As the old marketing adage goes, “Facts tell, stories sell.”
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