Your brand story – more important than your product?
If you are in the business of selling products and services, you could be facing extinction.
Throughout human history, access to resources, and the tools, processes and systems to turn those resources into useful stuff have been scarce. At times there has also been a scarcity of labor of sufficient skill to supply services such as turning resources into useful stuff, or helping people choose or use their stuff.
In the early 21st century in spite of incredible depletion of the world’s natural resources, there remains a surfeit of stuff – with more and more ingenious people figuring out new ways to make stuff and get it to you. Many of the barriers to making more stuff (including copyright and patent laws) have been overcome, ignored or sidestepped by developing countries.
In many cases the whole business model is being replaced – a great example is the shift from expensive enterprise IT systems (requiring extensive in house hardware, software, resources and personnel) to SaaS solutions.
What is still in demand? It is meaning, value and connection – that vital piece of the puzzle that makes people feel more complete.
People don’t just buy your stuff, they buy your story
Companies that only produce or supply products or services are incredibly vulnerable to someone copying, improving on or superceding their cash-cow.
How can businesses overcome this race to the bottom which sees old, established companies being eaten alive by new, irreverent startups.
In choosing a brand, people are choosing to weave the brand story into their personal story. Brand decisions and other purchases say something about us as people.
Telling an enchanting brand story
Some of the most successful companies today have succeeded in spite of having the same technology as everyone else – a well worn example is the Apple iPod. Hundreds of manufacturers created mp3 players, yet the iPod somehow won the day.
Create a Brand Story Universe
Part of the reason for Apple’s triumph in the MP3 battle (and subsequently in the phone, tablet, music and computer wars) was that their brand story was a self-contained story that was compelling on it’s own, but was connected to a much bigger picture – almost like a self-contained fantasy world. Alternate realities are highly compelling as backdrops for a story – something almost like reality, but different enough to suggest that things that are normally impossible can become possible. This partly accounts for the massive success of cult hit stories like Lord of the rings, Narnia, Star Trek and Star Wars as well as most of the world’s mythologies.
Keep the dream alive
If you’ve built a brand (rather than just making stuff), people are buying your product as a side effect of buying your story – the story is more important than the stuff.
This means your story needs to continue even when they aren’t buying the stuff. The story needs to make sense, and be there for them, like something familiar and trusted even when they don’t need your story at the time.
How can you continue the story – where can you take them that nobody else can?
Maintaining your brand story via content marketing and customer engagement can help take your business from the world of stuff to the world of dreams.
Once upon a time…
What comes next in your brand story? That’s up to you.