Your story. It may be why you started a business, or the recipe your mother passed down to you, or your discovery of a place, activity, taste or service that you now want to share with others. Whatever that story is, it’s the most important part of your brand.
Storytelling gives the consumer something to connect to. Studies show (and your own experience probably confirms) that people want to do business with someone they know and trust. When you introduce yourself and your product/service to consumers and then share your inspiration, you give them a reason to get to know you better. Consumers will remember you; they’ll connect with your product because you’ve presented it in a unique and personal way.
Your story may be your actual experience, or it may be a constructed story that creates a character and backstory. Let’s look at an example of each.
The Savannah Bee Company
Savannah Bee Company has grown from owner and founder Ted Dennard bottling honey in his kitchen to a company that sells honey and hive-inspired products nationwide. Honey is available almost everywhere, so what was it about Savannah Bee that captured consumers? Of course there is no one answer, but an important part of the company’s very savvy marketing beginnings was including stories about how Ted learned beekeeping and the inspiration he found in older beekeepers, bees, and the natural world. Every single product carried a story about the beekeeper and his bees, and it personalized the product for thousands of consumers.
One of the earliest boxes read:
The Savannah Bee Company took root when I was a child working with my dad on his coastal forest retreat. A battered pickup truck swarming with bees rattled down our little dirt road and into my life.Out stepped an elderly man, “Roy Hightower’s my name and I’ve been searching for a spot like this on which to make honey.” With a bee walking on his shoulder, the old man leaned toward me and winked.
These things actually happened, but the copy was carefully written. The dirt road, the battered pickup truck swarming with bees, the bee on his shoulder, the wink: all of these details draw the reader into the story (and the product) to the point where you can almost feel the humidity in the Southern air.
Eric Zimmerman came to Clark Creative with an idea for a company that evolved over several branding sessions into Oliver Bentleys Barking Bakery artisanal dog treats. A story was created about how King Charles spaniels came to hold such a position of prominence in the Royal Court and British society, due the heroic actions of a dog named Oliver Bentley. This story is tongue in cheek – it winks at the consumer as if to say: Let me spin a yarn for you – I know you’ll enjoy it as much as your dog will enjoy these treats.
…Previously lost in the backwaters and tidal creeks just outside the new world city of Savannah, Georgia a small and unassuming ship captain’s chest was found. In it, among the captain’s personal effects, was his ship’s log and personal diary. The log and diary were wrapped in a tattered piece of cloth of a unique and striking plaid pattern and curiously accompanied by a seaman’s daily ration or what was called hardtack, or a sea biscuit. The biscuit had a small paw print pressed into it. Between the pages of the captain’s log and diary was a small cameo carving of a dog bust and a smaller equally weathered swatch of the same plaid, on herringbone fabric, with which the items had been bundled.
Both the cameo and the plaid swatch marking the page began a series of entries chronicling how a small King Charles Spaniel named Oliver Bentley, referred to in the diary and log as Ollie B. and at times just Ollie, during an ill-fated voyage at sea saved the life of the then exiled young King of England, Charles II. The entries make clear that in so doing the young pup, Ollie B., in fact saved the monarchy and rightful heir to the throne…
The story shouldn’t stop at the copy on the website or packaging. It should guide design, color palette and even the way you deal with your customers. An old world nautical theme was developed for Oliver Bentleys, and a custom tartan pattern designed just for the product.
Identifying, developing, and integrating your story is the foundation of your branding. Your story may work best in the front seat like the two examples above, or it may be more of a backseat navigator – guiding your marketing decisions from outside the margins. Either way, it holds the map-or is the map-for you to find your customers, and for them to find you.
This post is third in a series of articles for Business in Savannah. This article appears in the May 11 Issue of BiS.