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THE BRANDING LAB PODCAST
Developing A Data-Centred Approach to Brand Storytelling
By Yvonne Ivanescu
There’s no point in embarking on a content strategy unless its impact can be measured. You can shape your brand story around quantifiable unique audience demand. If you do this then you are going to have a much better chance of cutting through the noise and getting people to do what you want them to do from a marketing and commercial standpoint instead of having a generic or non-specific kind of brand story.
Your best customers come from your audience because they’ve been primed by your content in a way that sales messages simply cannot compete with.
In this episode, Andrés and I talk about the importance of data in brand storytelling; the difference between customer and audience personas; the three questions that you need to ask when building your audience and how to best serve you audience depending on their customer journey.
DATA-CENTRED APPROACH TO BRAND STORYTELLING 📄🤗
Andrés argues that with data you can create a brand story that is not so much about you but about your audience and how your brand aligns with their lives, their day-to-day priorities, their aspirations, objectives, hopes and desires.
The data moves your brand story from being about generic kind of principles, like, the world’s best technology brand or the world’s best winery. Instead it creates something very specific that can anchor your brand in a meaningful way and that your audience can latch onto. And so, if you have a data centred approach when you’re putting together your brand story, you are able to differentiate yourself and craft a much more interesting story.
You will be able to press real life buttons, rather than those more kind of conceptual, generic ones.
Let’s look at an example: A winery 🍷🍷
If you are opening a winery, you probably think that what is going to make you stand out is your wine region and your winemaking philosophy, but in reality, that’s pretty much the same strategy that all the wineries implement. There is nothing special about that. But what if you go deeper, what if you ask your audience why they love your wine. Ask them why are they coming to your specific winery? What are the things that make you unique in your audience’s eyes? This data makes the brand story real, tangible, and very specific.
A TWO-PRONGED APPROACH: BRANDING & PERFORMANCE ✌🤨
There’s no point embarking on the implementation of that content strategy unless its impact can be measured. What you need to know is how to measure things. But what you really need to focus on is the combination of these two elements:
▶ branding activities
▶ direct response, such as commercial sales, promotional activities.
If you just do a brand activity on its own, then you’re going to end up with a really expensive hobby. However, if you are just focusing on performance-driven marketing, then nobody’s going to remember you and nobody’s going to differentiate you from competitors because there’s nothing to differentiate you other than the product that they bought once.
In this sense, what smaller brands and entrepreneurs should realize is not to be too hyper-focused. This hyper-focused lens might mean that they Because then they get into the customer persona and they’re like, no, this is exactly who I want. I don’t want anyone else. I’m not going to be sharing on this group or with these people because they don’t have a, B, C, D E I have all the traits that my customer persona has.
A BRAND DOES NOT EXIST WITHOUT AN AUDIENCE
Once you’ve defined your customer personas, you should immediately develop your audience personas. Wait, what are audience personas? They are similar to your ideal customer BUT they may not be exactly the same.
They may have some different attributes or values. They might be wildcards to a certain extent when it comes to them connecting with your brand, but they are related in the sense to that ideal customers. Instead of pointing to a person who is exactly the kind of person who is most likely to buy your product [customer persona] you are instead pointing to a group of people who are interested in a topic or subject matter that you or your product are an expert on, and in which you can provide leadership, guidance, and expertise.
For example, your ideal customer may have ten traits, but a group of people in your audience may only have three of those ten traits, while another group may have six of those traits. When you serve a broader range of people there will be some crossover in terms of values and traits.
Smaller brands and entrepreneurs should avoid being too hyper-focused on their ideal customer.
You want to remember that your audience is interested in specific topics, and subject matter Yes, your customers will come from that audience, but also it’s very likely that there will be audience members who, although they won’t buy anything from you, they still can play a critical role in advertising your brand. For example, they can share your message or your content with their own communities — an endorsement can be just as valuable as a purchase.
CONTENT DEMAND RESEARCH: HOW TO CRAFT YOUR AUDIENCE
When conducting content demand research as a way of identifying a brand’s audience, Andrés asks three main questions:
▶ what are the questions and problems people are seeking answers for online? In other words, what are the challenges and obstacles that people are looking to overcome in their life related to your area of expertise/product?
▶ what kind of content triggers my audience to complete the behaviors that are important to me commercially. Once you have a website or social media channels you can use analytics to understand what type of content resonates best with your audience.
▶ what topics or areas of interest are valuable for my audience. This is where you want to go and look at the media sites, publisher sites, social media sites and follow content creators.
These three questions are valuable for any brand and for any business owner who wants to try to understand their audience beyond just understanding their customer.
MORE FROM THIS EPISODE 🎙 🎧
Andrés and I dive a little deeper into these three questions and how entrepreneurs can really understand who is part of their audience, from a data-centered approach. We also look at two specific examples and chat about how brands can craft different messages depending on their customer journey.
Hit play on the episode above for the full conversation on learning the importance of data in brand storytelling as well as a robust conversation on the importance of creating a customer persona AND an audience for your business.
◼ Listen to another episode: Finding Your Business Why Your Brand Purpose with Yulia Stark