Given the role that CPG brands play in consumers’ daily lives, storytelling is a powerful way to connect with shoppers and influence their purchase decisions. It should permeate every shopper communication, whether it’s advertising, your website and social media, or your in-store signage. It’s even a key part of why challenger brands are able to thrive in a market dominated by established brands. That’s because stories do more than just convey facts or try to win a buy with discounts. Instead, they stir up emotion, humanizing brands even as they bolster engagement.
5 Brands Connecting Through Storytelling
While some of these brands are challengers, and some are major, established brands, they all have this in common: their brand story drives their marketing and is a key factor in why they’re so successful.
Harry’s was ultimately able to disrupt the shaving industry as a whole and grow 2x’s as fast as the rest of its ecommerce peers. That’s especially impressive when you consider that online shaving clubs are already seeing the fastest growth in the men’s grooming category. Their rapid growth is due in part to effective storytelling. The online razor company filmed a short documentary, starring it’s co-founders, to tell a story that positioned them as a relatable company, and in turn, differentiated their brand from other players in the shaving market.
Skin care, natural beauty products, and maintaining earth-friendly production would be more than enough for most companies to establish themselves in the category. But Burt’s Bees goes above and beyond with its website’s About page and their YouTube channel. The page is highly visual, and while their history is front and center, it quickly becomes apparent that the company truly loves nature, bees, and social, environmental, and ethical responsibility. Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword, and Burt’s Bees goes out of its way to ensure visitors can be well educated on the issues in addition to the role the company itself plays. That educational conversation extends out to their YouTube channel and other social media to fully engage followers.
This brand’s story is rooted in a hands-on history, starting with a salon and growing to develop products available at retailers. Beauty, in general, and hair care, in particular, can be a minefield for shoppers with specific needs. DevaCurl has devoted itself to women with curly hair, and it goes the extra mile to understand, embrace, and celebrate that particular audience. The brand focuses on all kinds of curly hair without additional niche cues like ethnicity or high-fashion, but it spares no room for other types of hair whatsoever. It’s a bold move, but by turning to Curl Ambassadors (their influencers), it gives the brand purpose and personality.
As a quiet chocolate shop in New York, the owners of Lucas Candies never imagined what sharing their history might do. The brand story stretches back more than 150 years, starting with Greek immigrants, yet that story had never been leveraged before. Everything from product packaging and descriptions to its website, brand messaging, and even its logo were redesigned to establish the brand and its timeless value. As a result, Lucas Candies received national attention when it was featured by Forbes, Cosmopolitan, and The Today Show.
Even large brands like Coca-Cola benefit from brand stories. After all, it doesn’t rely on an environmental or social mission to maintain awareness, interest or sales. It’s a standard in its category, too. But you merely need to observe the consistent theme in all of its advertising to understand its brand story: being a fun part of friendship and happiness. It thoroughly relies on the consistency of its colors, wordmarks, and even the shape of its glass bottles, so much so that it carries that carefree imagery across all of its channels.
How They Got It Right
Seeing that these brands are successful and understanding why their storytelling is successful are two different things. We’ve put together actionable tips based on these brands to help you improve your storytelling strategy.
Take a Personalized Approach
Harry’s became the breakout challenger brand it is because it leveraged the down to earth humanness and likability of its founders. Instead of turning to actors or celebrities, the co-founders dove in head first, showing their real journey. This didn’t just give the founders a face; it effectively humanized the entire brand. It’s proof that you don’t need to go over-the-top to garner attention and trust. Consider creating advertising that puts your team front and center.
Your brand may resonate naturally with certain types of shoppers. Establishing a community based around elements of your brand story is a powerful way to establish communication with your audience and incorporate them into the story itself. Burt’s Bees does this with activism and keen focus on how the honey they use is made, appealing to people who desire natural products and sustainability. DevaCurl does this by avoiding the allure of trying to reach everyone, devoting itself entirely to women with curly hair, and capturing authenticity through its influencers. Of course, there’s no right way to develop a community — Coca-Cola has built a broad community by evoking friendship, fun, and happiness.
Live Your Brand Story
Consistency is important for advertising, and it’s no less important in storytelling. Your brand story must be consistent across channels, from the in-store experience right through to your website and social media. While each brand on our list does this, a standout example is Lucas Candies. It was only by embracing and leveraging its storied history and traditions that it garnered the attention it deserved.
Leveraging your brand story isn’t always easy, but storytelling is a tool that you can’t afford to leave in the toolbox. Whether you’re a challenger brand in your category or a longstanding leader, it opens up the heart of your brand to connect with shoppers effectively. We’ve presented five brands that use storytelling in a way that’s worth emulating. These takeaways represent a great foundation for doing just that.