Why brands are stories? Part III. What stories do for brands
What stories do for brands? How elements such as symbols, heroes, and language come together to create a shared culture? And, do they drive company growth?
In a series of three articles, Marc Català, partner at Mucho, explores the intimate links between brands and stories. In the last part of the series, he writes about what stories do for brands, and unveils how crucial elements such as symbols, heroes, and language come together to create a shared culture and drive company growth.
Symbols make the myth come true
To organize values through the structure of narrative provides us a story. But to make the story come true it needs to be lived and relived constantly. As children, we watch the same film, listen to the same song over and over. Repetition is the name of the game. And to relive it, the story needs to come to life. It needs the symbols, the heroes, the details, the outcomes. For brands, that means the logos, the CEOs, the influencers, the makings, the products, the language. Once the story is lived many times, the high points of the narrative become clearer and clearer. And thus more recognizable. A swoosh becomes the symbol of the story of victory.
An apple becomes the symbol of the story of creative innovation. A car becomes the symbol of the story of rebellion against climate change. To design a brand is to design the symbols, the heroes and the outcomes of a story. To design a brand is to design its story. So next time you’re buying those sneakers or clicking that mouse, remember: you’re not just buying a product, you’re joining in on the story.
Once there are symbols, there is a shared culture
When a story has established itself amongst a group of people, so have its symbols. At this point, a shared culture emerges. It is a shared culture founded on shared values, and constructed by a common story. And those recognizable symbols are as much the building blocks as they are the constant reminders of the story they sustain. When this symbols are displayed, when the story is told in communication, when the brand products are obtained, those transactions are an essential confirmation of the founding values. A story provides a cultural identity not only to the brand, but also to those who interact with it. I buy these sneakers. I play that online game. I ride this bike. I am from this country. Playing out this identity reinforces it, as we enact the culture it produces. People can make identities theirs by reliving the story and playing out the culture in their own creative ways, themselves adding on new details to the whole narrative. Identity, the strength of a brand story, also applies to the workplace: It motivates everyone to keep on track and gives them a reason to make the amazing.
When there is a culture, there is a story. When there is a story, there is a brand.
And so a shared culture of common values creates new behaviors. These behaviors can be measured by data, and drive brand growth: greater share of the market, and finally a higher market valuation. When a brand creates a shared culture it establishes an invisible, emotional, and formidable link connecting company, employees and consumers.
One last thing, in times of uncertainty and instability, brand stories always allows you to dig back down and say, “What is our story that got us here and made us uber-successful?”
Brand stories build a brand legacy that gives you the edge
Brand legacy is achieved by consistently delivering on the promises of a brand over time and telling your brand stories constantly. It is achieved by consistently defying customer expectations by providing high-quality products and services, creating emotional connections with customers through storytelling, creating a consistent brand identity, and delivering on its core values. Brand legacy outperforms, because it is hard to replicate. It makes customers more likely to buy from a brand they know and trust. Brand legacy is proof that a company is firmly committed to its core values and is willing to go the extra mile for people. It’s an exciting and strategic way for companies to build a lasting relationship with their customers.
Brand legacy outperforms, because it is hard to replicate. It makes customers more likely to buy from a brand they know and trust.
Meaningful brands will always outperform meaningless excitement, which has little lasting power. Brand stories have transformed companies into visionaries with immense brand love and a larger share of the future. Once a brand achieves a culture point it lives as a solid block in the minds of all who know it. When there is a culture, there is a story. When there is a story, there is a brand.
This is the third and last part of the “Why Brands are Stories?” series. Don’t miss part one and two.
Words: Marc Català, partner at Mucho