How to create an authentic brand story
One of the key benefits of the archetypal branding methodology is the fact that, if done properly, your branding will reflect an authentic and genuine story. A story which connects on a deeper level with your audience and gives you guidelines for the behaviour of your brand.
Not sure what archetypal branding is? Checkout this post which explains brand archetypes in depth. Know all about archetypes? Keep reading...
In today’s information rich world brands can no longer afford not to be authentic. The more online and virtual our lives become, the more consumers crave for something genuine. What customers want is to experience a brand. They want the experience to be consistent with every aspect of that brand - with what it offers, its vision, mission, values and promise. They want consistency with the story it tells. From viewing a website, to walking around a store, to unpacking a product - if the customer experience does not measure up to the brand promise, in every aspect, customers become increasingly disenfranchised.
For a 'deep-dive' on how important customer experience is checkout this article by Dr Nigel Marlow on "The Consumer Psychology Model" of "Customer Experience Management" (CEM).
On top of a general desire for consistency of experience, how brands behave is becoming increasingly important. With customers having access to a vast amount of information and news, if a brand behaves inconsistently it will be discovered. The truth will out and untold damage will be done.
One has only to think of the recent customer boycotting of big brands such as Starbucks for allegedly avoiding paying tax on their British sales (see this this BBC article about these examples). Although the company used legal mechanisms in its tax affairs, it provoked public outrage when it was discovered it paid hardly any UK corporation tax. This led to some customers arranging boycotts and protests at the chain’s cafés. Yes, this customer led protest (known as ‘tax shaming’) was undertaken on moral grounds but it was also fuelled by the fact that Starbucks’ brand promise and values are in stark contrast to its reported tax affairs. Starbucks’ brand values include statements like; “Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect” and “Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.” The brand says it is “performance driven, through the lens of humanity”. Somehow these values didn’t seem to fit with reality and so customers voted with their feet. This led to Starbucks backtracking and offering to voluntarily pay twenty million pounds in extra tax.
With this in mind, when building a brand it is essential that the key building blocks are indeed authentic. What do we mean by this? Well, digitalintelligencetoday.com defines perceived brand authenticity as: “The extent to which consumers perceive a brand to be faithful toward itself, true to its consumers, motivated by caring and responsibility, and able to support consumers in being true to themselves".
Brand authenticity then means that a brand is real. That it truly reflects the beliefs of the leadership team and staff effecting it. Once the brand begins to tell its story, once its messaging is aligned to its archetype and once it begins to be known for something - it must stay true to itself.
Gaining insight into customer attitudes by keeping on top of social media comments and completing customer surveys are great ways to ensure that a brand is delivering on its promise. If it’s not, customers will soon let you know. They aren’t afraid to air their grievances. If something in their experience of your brand doesn’t measure up as being ‘genuine’ it will get called out.
It is therefore essential for the modern business to innovate and continue to review themselves in the light of their brand story and their customers’ experiences and continue to seek to close any gaps.
This is the benefit of the archetypal branding methodology. It tells true stories. It is authentic. It doesn’t promise anything which is untrue.
The key thing you will need to do is understand your brand story. Do your research and go through the archetypal branding methodology with your team. Build out your vision, mission, values and promises based on the authentic beliefs of the team and stick to them. Once this is all documented in a brand strategy hold yourselves accountable to the guiding principles. Once these are in place they form the basis of how you can review customer interactions and opinions of you. You can then build out customer research initiatives to check if you are walking the walk, as well as talking the talk.
Above all, ensure your customers experience is consistent with the vision and ambitions of the brand.