Imagine this: you meet someone for a first date at a coffee shop. Does your conversation begin with the nitty gritty details of your life? Do you dig deep for the intricate facts that make up your date? Or does the conversation tend to focus more on the experiences and stories that make up your date? If the conversation goes beyond coffee, you begin to learn more about the person at a deeper level by listening to their stories…you begin to feel something more.
People are an accumulation of experiences – you could call them life stories. When we share our life stories, we don’t just focus on the objective. Rather, we infuse ourselves into the stories, making them ours. Therefore, we are the stories we share.
But the idea of being the stories we share does not stop with people. Brands are no different.
Every brand has a story and is a story, whether they realize what it is or not. Consumers don’t engage with brands over facts. Consumers relate to a brand when they feel something for it. Stories spark emotions and feelings, which ultimately lead to actions.
Every great love starts with a great story. But what defines a great story? Let’s evaluate some of our time’s most influential and well-known stories that make consumers take action.
Take Apple for example. The sleek, modern design makes consumers feel like a part of something bigger; something that allows them to be different than the standard PC. Apple’s story promises individuality and a sense of freedom. When you purchase an Apple product, you’re part of a forward-thinking community that’s creative in nature.
Apple pays close attention to their customers and does everything they can to give the customer what they want. They have a way with customers unlike most brands, such that customers can feel like part of the brand just by visiting the website. But their story, which has developed into a community, doesn’t just end with their website. Whether it’s the in-store experience, or the unboxing of a product, or listening to another fellow Apple-lover, their story has permeated modern culture in a way unlike any other brand. Their story, has arguably not only changed technology, but the consumers’ idea of a great brand.
Their story is the thing that gets you up out of bed at 3 AM waiting in massive lines, hoping you got there early enough to have that new piece of technology and that feeling of belonging in the Apple community. Their story is the “Apple Experience.” That experience, their story, is being like no one else, breaking the rules, and re-thinking technology.
So what about Uber? Big cities are full of ridesharing choices, but what makes Uber the ride of choice? It’s their story and their dedication to being an alternative choice for riders. Uber sped on the scene as a luxury car service and their premise was simple – a black car will arrive to you within minutes, wherever you are, making you feel like a celebrity. The ultimate ‘cool factor,’ spread like wildfire and has continued to spread across other cities. Uber has managed to keep their edge over competition by staying true to the Uber experience and making riders feel like one in a million.
How did they do it? How did their story spread? It first started by disrupting an antiquated market that had obvious problems – waiting too long for a cab, a driver having no change, the credit card reader mysteriously not working. Uber solved all this by utilizing technology, which is why they made sure to start where the market proved viable – San Francisco. Here, early technology adopters were looking for an alternative to the traditional cab experience. Uber solved a problem, but what kept people coming back was the Uber experience. Not only was Uber convenient for riders, it also served drivers because it gave them an opportunity to make more money than traditional cabs allowed them.
Ever take another ridesharing option? If you have, it’s not positioned the same way that Uber is. The principle of the idea can be copied, but the story cannot. The way Uber makes riders feel is what keeps them going back.
Southwest Airlines has also accomplished so much by sharing their story and staying true to it. Their story is simple – treat everyone the way you would like to be treated, which included getting rid of preferred boarding and other add-on perks that traditional airlines cash out on. Southwest is essentially the everyday brand and it’s definitely paid off for them.
Not only does Southwest beat other airline prices, they treat their customers differently. They know flying can be stressful, especially when customers are often under time constraints. This explains why Southwest employees are so happy, genuinely customer-service oriented, and willing to go the extra mile for their customers. Southwest fliers are listened to and made to feel at ease. IT pays off and Southwest has many, many, loyal customers.
These brands are not just successful because they’ve solved problems in ways that haven’t been thought of before. They’re successful because they put their story at the heart of their brand and that is what attracts customers to their brands. Without a story, a brand isn’t the living, breathing thing that it could be, and it won’t be nearly as successful as it could be if they had taken the time to establish it.