Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories or common-sense advice.”  Edward Miller

This quote from Edward Miller was certainly not created in a marketing context – but it is fundamental for long-term success of iconic brands. In fact, in the current brand and marketing landscape, the ability to tell unique stories is one of the most important assets a brand can build on today to be successful.  Storytelling has evolved into a key success driver and winning brands need to put a major focus on it. This can be illustrated by the following 7 reasons, which we can observe at multiple occasions across markets and categories:

  • Stories create strong bonds with consumers 

Strong brands connect best with their target audience by leveraging exciting stories. If the brand manages to tell a relevant and authentic story , it raises consumers interest and holds it over time. By doing so, the brand establishes a long-term relationship with their customers, even when times are tough. One of the greatest examples of all times is the Steve Jobs/Apple story. He created the brand, got fired and came back to re-inspire the brand with his visionary ideas and unique charisma. Not only has this saved the company, but it has created a legend and a global fan base which took the brand to new heights.

  • Stories transform users into fans 

There are iconic brands rooted in unique stories and plenty of anecdotes. Whether its Levis Jeans, Michelin Tyres or Moleskine Notebooks, all these brands have a true brand story which has become part of the brand’s DNA. Generations of marketing teams have added new chapters. And the more consistent they have been in doing so, the stronger the legacy of those brands has become. And as a natural consequence, consumers have become true fans and brand ambassadors across the globe. Why? Simply because they were inspired by the brand story and now feel part of it.

  • Stories enable creativity 

Creativity is one of the driving forces of any successful brand. To grow in a sustainable way, brands need to evolve. And in this process, storytelling plays a key role to open up new territories for the brand. It creates a brand universe in which new ideas can flourish and creates new opportunities for the brand. Think about Jean-Paul Gaultier, who successfully managed to expand from a fashion brand into the world of perfumes, nicely tied together by a strong and consistent storytelling around the brand.

  • Stories drive innovation 

Hollywood Chewing Gum is a great example. This brand was introduced in France by American GIs right at the end of World War 2. The spirit of liberation and victory was woven into the brand form the very beginning and has become the brands DNA. Over the years, the brand has built its unique “Fraicheur de Vivre” positioning around this story. And this key brand asset inspired the brands innovation stream for many years and has resulted in multiple product launches driving the brands leadership position in the French gum market since decades.

  • Stories are unique

No two brands have the same story and this is what makes brands unique. Coke and Pepsi have always been battling for market share on a global level and their respective ability to win has always been correlated with their capacity to tell a unique story. Both brands have excelled at storytelling, best illustrated by world famous campaigns like Pepsis Collaboration with Michael Jackson or the Coke X-Mas truck.

  • Stories create emotions 

We might love or hate a brand. While many reasons can trigger this love or hate relationship,the brand’s storytelling seems to have a major impact. An excellent example are Red Bull Energy Drinks. The brand and its products have been mystified from the very beginning and Red Bull has always polarized. Arguably, this has been a major driver for the brands’ success and most likely the story will continue to create strong emotions in the future as well.

  • Stories touch hearts 

Last but by no means least, a great brand story is able to profoundly touch our hearts. And if a brand manages to do that, it creates extremely strong and long-lasting bonds. If the Liverpool crowd at Anfield road sings “you’ll never walk alone”, goose bumps are guaranteed for everybody in the stadium. And all those fans remember decisive goals and games and will pass on the word to their children and grand-children. And for sure, none of them will ever support another team.

What’s the conclusion for all of us who have the privilege to influence and build brands?

Well, in order to maximize a brands success, courage is required. And that’s not a simple thing in an ultra-connected and highly transparent digitalized world, where small mistakes might have tremendous impacts. But more than ever we need to have this courage to tell consistent brand stories. Because it’s the only way to make the brands stand out and to be authentic and relevant to consumers at all times. And it’s then our job to translate these stories into all brand assets, ranging from positioning, innovation, design to communication. If we take on this responsibility full-heartedly, it will truly benefit the brands we are in charge of. So let us be courageous and let us focus on finding the most inspiring stories around our brands to make them grow and prosper in a sustainable way.

Ulrich Haist, Managing Partner and Head of innovation & Strategy