Imagine that you have two friends. One of these friends tries very hard to be cool – he has a flashy car, keeps the lawn neat and brags about listening to the latest music – but you know that his coolness is mostly just talk. He seldom does anything himself, he simply parrots what is popular at the moment. Your other friend is humble but admirable. She records her own music, stands up for what she believes in and has her own opinions. You will go on adventures together with this friend. You will create things. She will boost your confidence not by pressuring you into a mould, but by enforcing your values and activating you.
Which friend would you want to spend time with? Which friend would you trust? What if these friends were two competing brands?
The way people connect to brands has changed. Today, it’s not only about the product or service a company provides. Statistics say that roughly 80 percent of brands believe that they offer a unique product or service — something that clearly differentiates them from the competition. Only about 10 percent of their customers, however, say they agree.
Because of this, many brands try to differentiate themselves through storytelling, yet are finding it difficult to reach their customers across the multitude of channels available. Simply talking to customers through investments in advertising, content and media isn’t enough to build a true relationship. Despite the fact that a written or told story can be important and compelling, for the customer the real value lies in the total experience they have with your brand. Relationships aren’t built on shallow talk, they are built through shared values and experiences.
Storydoing — creating an experience that engenders brand loyalty, something the customer can feel a part of — is the only differentiator that matters.
Actions speak louder than words
We can all write blog posts and tweets about the revolutionary things our brand can do or has done in the past, but until the customer can see it, feel it and be part of it, they won’t fully buy in. The written word certainly has value, but taking a single step won’t get you to your destination. You have to follow it up by doing what you say you can do.
Red Bull is a perfect example of a company that has embraced storydoing. The brand’s tagline is “Red Bull gives you wings,” and rather than TV commercials and blog posts about the benefits of the energy drink, they invested significant time and energy into creating experiences the consumer can engage with on a deeper level. From bike races to airplane acrobatics, the brand has created enormous engagement that can monetise their marketing.
Co-Creation both internally and externally
An integral part of storydoing is creating an ecosystem where everyone within your organisation is engaged. When employees are engaged and passionate about their work, your customer will have a great experience which in turn drives business. By making your employees feel like they are a driving force behind the company’s mission, you can provide customers with something uniquely valuable. Ultimately, engagement shifts up the value chain. Employees join a mission with purpose and customers feel a sense of belonging as they co-create value together with the brand.
Just look at Airbnb. The company has taken some of its most popular listings and modelled all of the meeting spaces in its offices to look just like those homes. Airbnb demonstrates that it values both customers and employees by paying homage to the former, while allowing the latter to enjoy the company’s main value proposition, every single day they come to work.
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Technology evolves. How we use technology changes along with it, sometimes very rapidly. But our personalities remain largely consistent over time. We still want the same things. The same comforts and adventures. The same conveniences in life. It’s just our behaviours that change according to the technology that is available and relevant to us in the moment.
Consequently, while your technology, product or service may evolve, the concept of storydoing and creating experiences that consumers can take part in will always be integral to creating brand loyalty and long-term engagement regardless of your industry. People forget campaigns and short-term activations after a while. By building on their core purpose and values, brands can grow together with their customers to create a long-term relationship that benefits both parties.