It’s no secret that the drinks industry is a crowded one. There’s a million and one gins on the market, twice as many wine labels and somewhere in between all that there’s room for beer, rum, whisk(e)y and vodka.
And unless you’re doing something wildly innovative and out of this world – the difference between them all (to the consumer at least) is often minimal.
Truth is, the best selling brands don’t often house the best liquid, but they do usually have the best brand story.
What Is A Brand Story?
A brand story is a narrative that encompasses the history, purpose, values and vision of a brand.
Good brand stories are written with a target persona in mind and address all the emotional and social things that matter to the customer.
By crafting a story that extends beyond the actual product, the packaging and the commercials – brands are able to build an emotional connection with customers, meaning they’re more likely to purchase from the brand and are more likely to become loyal brand advocates with big lifetime value.
In fact, Harvard Business Review tells us that 64% of consumers cite shared values as the primary reason they have a relationship with a brand. And the reason they even know about these ‘shared values’ in the first place, is because of the brand’s story.
Hopefully, by now I’ve done a good job of defining a brand story and convincing you to have one in equal measure – so here’s how to go about developing your own.
How To Develop A Killer Brand Story For Your Drinks Business
1-Outline Your Core Values And The Purpose Behind Your Brand
In this first step, think about what you believe in, what your big vision for the business is and how your brand might behave or make people feel if it were a person.
At this stage, you’re defining the philosophy of your brand. You obviously want to make a product that tastes great and makes people feel good, but (hopefully) there’s something running a little deeper than this, which in the branding world, we call your ‘why’.
Just like if you would pitch to an investor, allowing your customers to understand the long term value in your business and what makes your winery, distillery or brewery different, better and more special than the rest, means customers are more likely to support you for the long-term.
The most important thing to remember here is to be authentic. Consumers can sniff out a phony a mile away, so make sure you’re being realistic and accurate about what it is you’re about.
2- Think About Your Ideal Customer & What Matters To Them
If you haven’t yet defined who your ideal customer is, then this is the obvious first step to take before you can think about what matters to them.
There are a few ways to do this – either through personas, archetypes or ideal customer avatars, but it doesn’t matter which avenue you take, as long as you answer these questions:
- What’s their demographic (age, location, occupation, financial status, personality, buying behaviour)
- What problem do they have?
- What do they need?
- How do you solve their problem and meet their needs?
It all seems pretty basic, but understanding (and recording) this makes it easy to identify your customer’s pain points and the emotional factors which influence their buying behaviour.
3- Take A Glance At Competing, Neighbouring & Aspirational Brands
It’s important to treat this step as a very brief and objective one. Try not to get bogged down or disheartened by what your competitors might be doing or how brilliant your aspirational brands might be.
Instead, try to pluck out common trends or themes between them. What is it about their messaging and positioning that makes them noticeable?
Do their Instagram posts make you laugh? Are their cocktail recipes perfectly non-fussy? Or do you revel in their brilliant sustainability program every time you visit their website?
These are all examples of a brand story in play and depending on your and your customer’s values, they can be a nice source of inspiration for step number four…
4 – Cross Reference Your Brand’s Purpose, Your Customers Needs & Piece Your Research Together
It can be helpful to start with an imaginary Venn diagram. Placing your answers from step one in one circle, and your answers from step two in the other – and the magic overlap between the two, is the backbone of your brand story – your shared values.
Cross-reference the answers between the two and piece together the commonalities between your business and your customers. Use your dot point answers to define the key elements of the brand story:
- Your big vision becomes your mission statement
- Your values help shape your tone of voice
- The competitor and aspirational research forms your market positioning
- And, the shared values form your key messages
5 – Document Your Brand Story
Documenting your brand story will help you, your employees and your business partners tell the story more effectively and successfully.
As a business owner, telling your brand story might be easy and come naturally to you, but as you expand and your team grows, it’s important that your employees are singing from the same hymn sheet.
By recording your brand story and encouraging your stakeholders to read it, you reduce the chance of the story being mistold and your brand misrepresented.
As every interaction with your business is an opportunity to tell your brand story, documented guidelines are a good way to make sure that this remains consistent. This is especially important if you outsource elements of your business operations to freelancers or contractors.
6 – Understand Who, Why, Where & How To Tell Your Brand Story
Now you’ve written your brand story, it’s time to tell it. And how you deliver your message is just as important as the message itself, so make sure you consider which platforms/media you’re going to use. Or a better way of looking at it is, which platforms and media do your ideal customers use.
In addition to advertising and digital marketing, remember to think outside the box. As mentioned earlier, every interaction a customer has with your brand is an opportunity to apply your brand story.
Think about the decor in your tasting room, the tone of voice in your webshop returns policy or the customer experience in your retail store.
Keep this in mind for product development, too. Ensure your products align with your brand and complement each other, rather than fighting for attention or shelf space.
And while you may be the author of your story, it doesn’t mean you’re the only one who can tell it. Your employees and customers are the two most powerful advocates for your brand, so harness their storytelling power and encourage them to share your brand story.
Incorporate your brand guidelines into your employee onboarding and encourage them to understand the story, so they can share it with your customers.
Loyal customers are your biggest fans. Engage them by asking them to share their brand story: their experience with your brand and your drinks – this authentic user-generated content will attract like-minded customers who see you know how to fix their problem.
7 – Be Consistent
And finally, be consistent. If your message is inconsistent, it becomes diluted and less impactful.
That’s why the best and most effective brand stories are communicated consistently, across every channel in order to resonate with their target audience.
As a brand strategist + designer, crafting a client’s brand story is the very first step of my process. It ensures that any design or creative decision that follows is intentional, purposeful and connects with the target audience.
While building a brand story can take a little time, it’s such an important part of the branding process and is often the difference between the success and failure of a brand design.
This article was written to give you all the guidelines, prompts and processes required to craft your brand story, but if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or have any questions. Get in touch and I’d be delighted to help.
I’m a brand strategist, website designer and digital marketer serving unique and passionate businesses and entrepreneurs in the food, drink and design space tinybrand.co