People have been telling stories for thousands of years. We grow up with them, share them and tell our own.
Good stories can make complex ideas easier to understand and help people relate to new concepts. When it comes to your brand, they show people not just how your business works but why you exist and why consumers should choose you.
A powerful brand story enables you to build meaningful connections with your audience, improves their trust and encourages brand loyalty.
With the rise of ethical consumerism, the need for brands to portray themselves as responsible, authentic and sustainable is higher than ever. Using a narrative to build a strong, positive image is an absolute must in the food and drink industry. Rather than just capturing audience attention for the launch of one product, food and drink brands need to capture it for a lifetime. A good story is the perfect way to do it.
Feelings, not things
When it comes to making buying decisions, people tend to choose based on feelings first and facts second. If buying something makes you feel good, you’re much more likely to buy it. A coffee brand with flashy advertising campaigns can make their product look appealing at an aesthetic level. However. one whose adverts tell the farmer-to-cup fairtrade story are increasingly more likely to make sales.
Starting from the bottom: The New Covent Garden Soup Co
Soup. It isn’t glamorous, it isn’t exotic, it isn’t particularly exciting. How do you build an emotional attachment to soup? The New Covent Garden Soup Co could lead a masterclass in forming emotional bonds with food. Over time, the brand have built up the idea that eating fresh soup from The New Covent Garden Soup Co is akin to the experience of having lovingly crafted, homemade soup set in front of you after a long, hard day. Starting with the relatable, true story of someone who is cold, wet and hungry (and thus, in dire need of soup!), the brand expanded at an incredible rate.
New Covent Garden are also a shining example of the fact that you don’t need a huge budget for your marketing to be a success. In the early days of the brand, staff were asked to provide old family soup recipes, building the message that these were authentic, honest recipes crafted over generations. The idea garnered huge publicity, and having started as a small independent business, The New Covent Garden Soup Co was sold for more than £150million in 2011. Not bad when you consider that the company was fighting their way into a market ruled by familiar corporate giants like Heinz.
Key Takeaway: Using the emotional power of real-life stories, even small brands can achieve David vs Goliath-like success.
The friendly face of a big brand: Guinness
A name known all around the world, Guinness work hard to keep their image connected with a local-level human touch. While their big-budget adverts often feature sensational tales and wild special effects, Guinness have been careful to maintain their appeal in the everyday arena. Storytelling takes on a whole new meaning here, with adverts tapping into the global phenomenon of myth and folklore, as well as the fantastical elements of ordinary life.
Guinness’ stories lace their brand name through the extraordinary. Their Sapeurs documentary had, really, nothing to do with beer. It was an introduction to real-life characters – colourful, exuberant and likeable – that captured the imagination. From here to the ‘Together We Are More’ campaign the brand launched in Southeast Asia, a cinematic work about friends setting off on a legendary adventure, Guinness go all-in on the storytelling. The fact that none of it seems to be about beer ceases to matter, because the stories are so fascinating and vivid that the brand builds its reputation purely by association.
Underneath all this, exotic video campaigns are supported by an ethical foundation that all modern brands need. Their YouTube channel houses videos about the farmers who grow their barley. A timeline on their website paints the picture of the Guinness story across centuries. Going right back to the day that Arthur Guinness left home in 1759. From working with the little guys, to being the champions of living life to the full, the power of the brand story behind the Guinness name is unmissable.
Key Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to get creative with your storytelling. Look for the extraordinary in the ordinary and capitalise on it – originality is the key.
Crafting the perfect storyline
Adverts like the famous ‘122 years of Hovis’ ad above are shining examples of brand storytelling done right. The unusual length of the cinema-style advert represents the age of the company’s original small brown loaf. The advert was intended to evoke Hovis’ “wholesome and natural” image and the idyllic image of Britain.
Simple, yet effective. The ad resurrected the delivery boy from the brand’s 1973 Ridley-Scott directed ad: one of Britain’s favourite TV advertisements. Which demonstrated that the brand not only has bread heritage, but also has advertising heritage. The moral of the brand story was that Hovis is “as good today as it’s always been”- which was a perfect encapsulation of the underlying brand strategy.
Key takeaway: Your story needs to be human, original, founded in truth and most of all, it must serve a purpose for the customer.
Whether it’s soup that turns a bad day around or beer that makes you a part of something special. Whatever it is you’re selling, there’s potential to build positive feelings around it with a clever, authentic brand story. Establish your customer’s journey and replace the hard sell with tales that explain how your story and theirs are inextricably linked.
A successful storyline will get people talking about your brand and is publicity that keeps on giving.