Brand Method Acting To Help Reach Your Target Market
Brand Storytelling is one of the most important exercises for your branding and marketing team. The process helps the marketer identify the brand’s core and streamlines the marketing process, which is essentially pretty straightforward – delivering the right message to the right people.
Brand Storytelling comes into play when you have a product or service that you need to launch or re-launch. Working on a Brand Story is much like method acting research. The more authentic your character research, the better your lines (marketing message) and actor (branding) will relate to your audience (demographic).
A Brand Story for a product or service should not be confused with a brand ‘backstory.’ A brand ‘backstory’ is more of a romantic differentiation storyline about the business itself. The Brand Story is very different because it is focused on a product or service. Storytelling begins as an internal marketing tool, which then informs every aspect of the marketing strategy–content, brand visuals, ad placement–and the story ‘ends’ with the on-target campaign itself.
A Common Mistake and A Cure
One of the most common mistakes that small businesses, app entrepreneurs, and the like make is falling in love with their product and blindly thinking it will be a hit. In marketing you want to try to know and not guess–I can’t stress this point enough. The Brand Story process is used by major brands to help “know” and not “guess.” It’s an exercise that smaller businesses can easily adopt.
How It All Works
Let’s say you have a product. What are the characteristics of the target audience?
- What’s the typical age and gender of the desired user?
- What’s their income?
- What do they look like?
- When do they use your product?
- What do they do before and after they come in contact with your product?
- Most importantly, what problem does it solve for them?
You’ll create a story around this Q & A and start to form ‘characters.’ You’ll add to your story by conducting real interviews, more on that in a minute. Here is an example for a product, but it can work just as easily for a service. It goes something like this:
“Kelly is 25 years old and lives in the city. She wants the best WidgetDry that she can buy. She wakes up early, has her morning coffee, and puts in a hard day at work. Kelly does kickboxing three days a week. She needs a solution to transport her sweaty gym clothes back home without stinking up her gym bag. This is why she depends on our WidgetDry. Most people just stuff their gym clothes lose in their bag, but Kelly wants to go the extra mile to keep the rest of her gym bag items clean and fresh. She also wants to do it in an earth-friendly way and is willing to pay a little extra for a cruelty-free, organic WidgetDry.”
Kelly becomes the symbol for this particular demographic. Kelly and WidgetDry make a perfect marriage of consumer and product.
Whatever product or service you have, you would make up a story like this for each character in your demographic. Beyond the motions of the exercise, here’s why this is a significant process: if you don’t believe your own brand story – no one else will. If you find ‘fuzziness’ and ‘grey areas’ in your story, then you will need to re-examine if you have a product issue or story issue.
Method Acting Research
In marketing you want to know and not guess. So the “Kelly character” is formed from market research. She is a composite carefully pieced together from actual interviews and possibly posts from online forums discussing the need for products like WidgetDry. In other words, she’s not made up from thin air or by wishing or guessing. You’ll have to embed with the demographic to truly know the demographic.
Marketing and Branding Appeal
Assuming your Brand Story or Stories produce engaging and accurate characters, you now have a lot of details to help inspire appealing branding visuals and a content marketing strategy. Often times, as we learned from the great ad writer David Ogilvy, the content can literally write itself from the ‘method acting interviews’ one conducts. One of advertising’s greatest headlines came from Ogilvy’s factory tour when someone there said, “After we paint the car we paint the paint.”
You want to know your target audience like they were sitting in the room with you, so that all you have to do next is say in pictures and in words, ‘we get you.’ Your understanding of your target audience gives you the freedom to dialog in a meaningful way, connecting on an authentic level that will ultimately build brand trust and lead to sales.