Ask any of today’s marketers and they will tell you that the goal of every brand is to make a rational and emotional connection with its community. Because people are emotional animals, when choosing between two similar offerings, the tiebreaker often is how they feel about the company. A brand narrative creates a connection by telling a story. People remember, identify with, and relate to one another through stories. Brand narratives that do not do this are just sales propositions in disguise, which by the way, consumers are pretty good at spotting.
Ali Payani, CEO of LookinLA, believes that in the end, brand’s narrative must deliver all the value propositions of the company to its customers. The whole brand and marketing strategy must be built upon the overall narrative to increase engagement, commitment and trust among the clients in every scenario. It is one of the tenets of LookinLA, the company he co-founded when he came to the States several years ago. Today, LookinLA helps brands improve their digital marketing executions using data-driven marketing techniques-a narrative Payani says he and his team meticulously crafted going door to door, project by project.
“When your brand narrative and message connect with customers’ emotions, you will create a trusted community where your customers will believe in you, no matter the changes,” Payani says. “But the brand should also be careful about the delivery of the brand narratives.”
Cole Baker-Bagwell spent two decades working in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street helping to solve complex sales and strategy puzzles for some of the world’s largest companies. Her success during that period came from merging smart business strategy with her own long-standing mindfulness practices. Today, as the founder of Cool Audrey(tm), her approach to the branding game helps create higher levels of trust, connection, engagement, focus and understanding with her clients. The success is in the narrative.
“Your narrative is the anchor that defines your company,” Baker-Bagwell says. “It’s the story of who you serve, what you do and why it matters. It’s the magnetic thing that attracts people initially and the very one they will come to know you for and rely on.”
Riding in on the story you not only tell, but stick by, is critical, especially with myriad competition, uncertainty, noise and historical unrest out there today. “People are frightened, distracted and suffering from information overload,” Baker-Bagwell says. “There are a lot of what I call ‘popup posers’ who are taking advantage and capitalizing on the host of challenges we’re all facing. They are disingenuous and that’s creating skepticism. Unless you’re a super established company with a good track record, those things can make it really tough to reach the people and build the trust that leads to positive outcomes in business. So, I do think people have to work mindfully. They have to get super intentional and make sure that they are meeting people for the right reasons in the right ways.”
On the flip side, Baker-Bagwell says today’s landscape-defined by cultural, political and health unrest-holds tremendous opportunity for brands who can get it right. Some people are looking for a soft place to land and a big hug, while others are fired up and want change.
“They’re looking for something they can believe in,” Baker-Bagwell says. “I think this is especially true of the GenZ population. If a brand can manage to acknowledge the human challenges we’re facing, connect with people to convey a sense of comfort and demonstrate that they represent something authentic that people can trust, they can be successful in creating awareness, loyalty and a new wave of people with brand allegiance.”
In the end, the key to connection is stirring the soul or making people feel something genuine and trustworthy. Some people need a soft place to land. Others want a brand that causes them to think differently. Most everyone is looking for something to believe in. Enter your narrative. When you get it right, it can warm your heart, break your heart, bring a tear to your eye, or a smile to your face hours later.
The choice is up to you.
This article appears in the November/December 2020 issue of Connect magazine published by NextPage, which can be found online here. If you would like a free print subscription to Connect, please click here.