Building Your Brand’s Story

by JustbeFRANK on October 7, 2011

Nora Camps, Duo.caYou can write about your brand until you have pages of information, but how can you be sure your message will be remembered? You don’t want to just speak to your audience–you want to connect with them, to start a conversation they feel is relevant and welcoming enough to join.

Storytelling is inherent amongst humans–just look at celebrity culture. The media feeds tidbits of information to the public (who wore what, went where, got into trouble, etc.) and suddenly, the celebrity is immortalized in the minds of people who feel they can relate to their story.

People (whether they’re aware of this or not) want exchanges that foster relationship, hence the popularity of social mediums like twitter with which businesses, celebrities and anonymous account holders can share and interact. But how can your brand stand apart from the rest? In his documentary film The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, while sourcing brands to fund his transparent expose on product placement, realized that first he needed to learn a few things about his own product, his brand personality.

What is Brand Personality?

Brand personality is the personification of your organization or product. Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Records, Virgin Airways and Virgin Mobile, is a great example of a brand with personality. High-profile chairman Richard Branson has a lot to do with it: Branson has attempted and broken several world records (in 1985 his ‘Virgin Atlantic Challenger’ sailboat capsized in British waters requiring helicopter rescue), starred on the short-lived reality show The Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best, and penned a book titled after one of his favourite sayings, Screw It, Let’s Do It: Lessons in Life. Branson infused his brand with his own irreverent, humanitarian and buoyantly optimistic personality, and Virgin has seen great success as a result.

Potential customers have a personality themselves, and are more likely to be interested in brands whose personality clicks with their own. By taking a humanistic approach in the way your brand is presented to the public you will attract like-minded clientele and even potential business partners.

So We’ve Got Brand Personality; Where’s the Party?

Brand personality is only the first step–now you need a story to tell. Not everyone has the budget for television shows or sailboats–and it’s just as well–abusiness storytelling story is only as memorable as its originality. Nora Camps runs DUO Strategy and Design Inc, a brand personality and business storytelling consulting agency in Toronto that pairs up with visionary entrepreneurs as a business storyteller–she extracts memorable stories out of her illustrious clients and demonstrates them through minimal text, powerful imagery and personal details of the people behind the story that’s being told. “Your stories are hidden in you and in your staff and clients,” says Camps. “When they are shared with the world, ‘branding’ becomes a pale old idea. Your connection with them will become something more altogether–something irreversible.”

This above image was designed by DUO for the University of Toronto’s Research report and won Gold in the CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) award for visual design. This campaign focused on the key questions being asked by U of T’s Research department, set them in bold text over dynamic imagery and brought personality to the foreground by telling the stories of the professors who have made such questions their life’s work.

Photo Contests Enable a Two-Way Dialogue Between Participants and Sponsor Brands

photo contestDUO has recently teamed up with Canada’s only serial photo contest website, Lenzr.com, in order to emphasize further the power of story. Photo contests are a great way to interact with consumers–you pick the theme (which ideally corresponds to your brand personality) and watch as the submissions roll in, each individual image revealing a story in itself. Nora Camps and DUO are running a photo contest from October – December 2011 called Canadian Harvest. As Canadians harvest the land every autumn, DUO Strategy and Design Inc. sorts and collects–and essentially harvests–the visions and the business stories of their clients.

Harvest time is something every Canadian goes through; the imagery submitted so far in the photo contest illustrates, however, the business storytellingdifferent ways Canadians experience the season. Photo contests can tell you a lot about your target audience in a short period of time–and with minimal text–the same sort of dynamic marketing that DUO has been so successful in implementing.

The photo to the right, entitled ‘Tomato Helper’, is one of 45 submitted photos so far and offers an inside look at the harvest activities of people across the country. “My son lifting a box of tomatoes he just picked fresh from the garden,” read the photo’s description. “Love that he knows where his food comes from.” The photograph and its brief caption capture the spirit of harvest season; it also reveals ideologies of the Lenzr member who submitted it: a focus on family, on eating locally and the importance of educating the young about both.

Two-way engagement between brand and consumer has become the norm in the digital age, and photo contests foster that through user participation, voting and winning prizes courtesy of the sponsoring brand. Storytelling, however, is as old as humanity itself and a good story will always capture the imaginations of those who hear or see it. Combined, these two elements have the potential to endear the hearts of your audience to your brand in an unforgettable way.

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