Once upon a brand..
Updated: Jun 24
Women & Design // Episode 3
We have been listening to stories since time immemorial, story-telling has been a huge part of human history. A good story is not only memorable, but it also engages the listener, making them more invested.
Why have a brand story?
You know a brand is successful when you start using its name as a verb, “let’s skype today” or “Xerox it”. It’s quite intriguing how a few brand names have managed to coincide with the service or product they sell. But apart from their products it’s the stories they tell that sell.
We have been listening to stories since time immemorial, story-telling has been a huge part of human history. A good story is not only memorable, but it also engages the listener, making them more invested. This approach of story-telling can do wonders for your brand, provided, it is done the right way because it not only creates loyalty in your market, but also creates meaningful bonds, leading to a more empathetic exchange between customer and product.
Once your story is in place, it is important you live it! This story should not simply feature on your large advertising campaigns and social media posts. It should feature in every decision you make; your office culture, the people you hire, even though it feels disconnected from customers, these little gestures do matter because ultimately, it is important for you to live your brand’s truth.
It is an attempt to show your customers that your brand is consistent and honest. It will create an environment of trust around your brand and the products it offers. Trust is inarguably the most important part of your brand, it takes the most time to develop and is probably the easiest to break.
Crafting a story.
The best brand stories are simple and straightforward. The Fitzgeralds and Orwells of the world may have to take a backseat while crafting these; the simpler the better.
The best template to follow is Problem – Solution – Successful Outcome. Most successful brands seek to solve a glaring problem or fill a gap in society. Surprisingly, most of these problems and gaps are very small and simple. And its brands that solve simple problems that turn out to be the most relatable and memorable.
Your brand story must be much simpler than the problem your brand is trying to solve. It must clearly state the problem, the solution (which is incidentally your brand) and finally, illustrate the successful outcome.
Brand Story vs. Advertising.
What your brand story is not - is an advertisement. If your motivation for creating a brand story is to increase sales, it’s probably not the best foot to start off on. Your customers are smart and intuitive, and they will see through your monetization efforts.
Do not approach your brand story as an advertisement. Don’t try to make it too cheesy and give it a catchy lyrical tagline. Keep it humble, authentic and relatable.
Your advertising efforts should feature your brand story. For example, when Airbnb India recently did their campaign with Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, two of the most glamorous personalities in Indian cinema, they didn’t channel their glamorous quotient. They focused on the fact that they were married, and played on their familial bonds. The advertisement showed them lounging as they would at home, talking to each other as they would at home, the script seemed unscripted, the shots were close and intimate. All this focused on the fact that Saif and Kareena were together in the comfort of their home (in another part of the world), which is exactly what Airbnb strives to be and what their brand story is all about.
GoPro – Be a Brand Hero
GoPro, a camera brand that focuses on cameras and mounts for recording sports action, has two very simple premises to their entire brand – community involvement and being a real-life hero. Inviting users to share their usage of the camera on social media is a smart way to engage with the GoPro brand and market themselves at the same time.
Furthermore, Strategist Magazine talks about the subtle undertones of the tagline, “‘Be A Hero’ means much more than nailing a triple cork on a snowboard or successfully navigating a rip-curl with a surfboard. For those simply looking to capture everyday life, the tagline encourages the consumer to be the hero of their own story.” Hence, through such simple brand devices and storytelling, GoPro has not only engaged the community, but given agency to their consumers and become a digital powerhouse with content continuously pouring in from users all over the world.
Nike – Just Do It Nike is an exceptional sports brand that has made its mark through quality products and mastermind advertising strategies. Right in 1999, when the prime source of advertising was Television sets Nike dropped a one-minute advertisement featuring Michael Jordon’s career. At a time when every other brand was following the “sell, sell, sell” marketing strategy, Nike took a different turn and honed the art of story-telling. In the entire one-minute advertisement, Nike’s brand name and tagline came up only once for a few seconds. The tagline “Just Do It” appeared in the closing seconds below Michael Jordan’s school picture. Nike always backs its advertisement with a great story that people can relate to or take inspiration from. And really who does not recognise the swoosh and the famous tagline “Just Do It”?!
We as a design company often get the chance to create brand stories, and one thing we hear our client say is “This brand is my baby”, and rightly so! To preserve the connection between the client and their brand, and to simultaneously instigate a connection between the brand and the customer, you have to weave a story that ties everything together.
One of our branding and story-telling projects was Kerf, a beautiful furniture brand started by an interior designer focuses on hand-picked furniture designs that are as beautiful as they are functional. The challenge was to create a brand story that showed the value and aesthetics behind the brand Kerf. The first step was deciding on a name for the brand; it had to speak of the essence of simple form and functionality. We quickly striked-out the idea of long, elaborate names and settled with Kerf. The name Kerf; means the rounded outer edge or cut, reconciled both these points of view. It was short, to the point, and stylish. The logo also displayed equal parts style and strength. The gold square with the ‘K’ inside is architecturally classy, yet sturdy in its design. It shows architectural edges and boundaries. The entire brand’s story rests on ‘form and function’, aesthetics and practicality, design over decoration. And we took these premises and translated them into a piece of furniture’s rounded edge; the importance of a smooth rounded finish that is beautiful and functional. We created the rest of the communication of the brand on similar lines, keeping the design clean and playing with corners and edges in interesting ways. Apart from the name and logo, we created a beautiful catalogue brochure and stylish stationery for the brand, creating an entire story around the corner edge, making all the difference to the design and function.
QMIN & QMIN Shop
IHCL’s latest venture, QMIN was a prestigious project that the Beyondesign team got to work on. From the communication to the designs, it was all-in-all a complete branding experience.
QMIN started off as a food delivery app and subsequently the idea expanded to a physical shop – The QMIN Shop, the firsts to be launched by the IHCL group. It was a result of the unexpected pandemic and the goal was to ensure that people get to live a luxe dining experience. This heart-warming idea needed to be backed by creative designs and scrupulous communication, but most of all it needed a story.
The story for QMIN was rooted in the idea of deliciously convincing people that they can eat their favourite food from their favourite Taj restaurants at the comfort of their homes. One of the most important aspects to hold on to was loyalty. Taj has a deep unbreakable bond with its customers, shining this connection through design collaterals and communicative decks was the biggest challenge and one that we proudly pulled off in a month’s time. As for Qmin Shop, the story idea was to establish a feeling of “one-stop food place”, where the kitchens cut exquisite meats and baked lovely loaves of bread, where the feeling of fresh not only came from the ingredients, but also from the shop itself. It was all about making sure that each creative detail that went into making the brand synced with the underlying story. QMIN is our beautiful success story and a true example of how weaving a good story can transform your brand.
If you want your brand to make an impact then design a story that calls to your customers. Bring in authenticity, creativity, and honesty and most of all, live the truth that your brand is. The inevitable results of conveying what your brand does through a story is always positive, because a story not only gives you perspective it creates an emotional connection with the people related to your brand, whether it is your customers or your brand team.
So, the next time you are challenged with designing a brand, start with weaving a great story!
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!
With 🧡 Team WID.