[GRIT COMMENTARY] Every Brand Needs To Find Its Story
2016 Q3-Q4 GRIT Report commentary by Rebecca West, Global Vice President, Marketing Research Services at Civicom, sharing her thoughts on the current state of the market research industry.
We live in the age of the personalized consumer. Buyers don’t want statistics. They want to understand why something should be important to them. Creative and engaging content increases brand awareness and popularity. Enter the proven concept of brand storytelling as a way to find the buyers that identify with your brand.
There are some great brands that have built their base around storytelling. Some are launched through the vision of the founder, such as Toms Shoes, Uber, GoPro, or Starbucks. With a chief evangelist promoting the message behind the brand, success is built from the people drawn to it. These brands start with the message. But not all brands were able to start that way, and many find themselves struggling to find their identity or their voice in an age when consumers are flocking to brands with a story they can relate to.
Qualitative research is perhaps the most effective way to help a brand struggling to find a message to come to understand what their story should be. This type of brand most likely already knows its facts and figures. Its need now is to know the inside-the-brain thoughts of why its consumers are engaging with the brand. As a former CEO of Nestlé once said, “Don’t give me the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ ‘how much,’ and ‘how often.’ Those things are easy. Tell me ‘why.’”
To engage in the qualitative research ‘why’ to create a brand story, it is necessary to gather a significant base of respondents and build a meaningful discussion guide to probe into their point of view. Often a brand will already be national and will therefore need a significant cross section of consumers from every state in order to gather enough commonality of thought to enable building a strong brand narrative that can immerse believers and also draw new brand followers while also resonating well throughout our diverse country. Such a significant number of research interviews are best accomplished using professionally facilitated audio and web technology to make the interview process efficient and cost effective, and to free the researcher from the burden of project organization in order to concentrate exclusively on the research.
Building a really good storyline for a product starts with the researcher having each respondent first create their own story for the brand, engaging them in an in-depth qualitative exercise to create a story related to the product, with characters, a setting, a problem, a climactic moment and a resolution. The outcome of these interviews will be a very large number of individual personal stories about the brand that will need to be distilled down into what will become the single brand story. Text analytics tools that enable the identification and tracking of keywords and coded excerpts will help the researcher to then distill the messages into a recommended storyline that will have enough cohesion as well as a compelling tale and that can represents all the brand exemplifies.
The conclusion is that telling a good brand story does more that increase engagement and interest. It can mean the difference between brand success and failure. There is the old saying ‘Every picture tells a story.’ To succeed today, every brand needs to tell a story that the consumer can visualize and identify with. The process often starts with finding out the qualitative ‘way’ behind how brand buyers think.