A Data-Centred Approach to Brand Storytelling with Andres Lopez-Varela

A Data-Centred Approach to Brand Storytelling with Andres Lopez-Varela

the branding lab podcast

Tune in as we explore what it takes to build a truly strategic, heartfelt brand.


Developing A Data-Centred Approach to Brand Storytelling

By Yvonne Ivanescu

creating a sticky brand


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. 


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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. 


◼ Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn

◼ Follow Andrés on LinkedIn or visit his website. 

◼ Listen to another episode: Finding Your Business Why Your Brand Purpose with Yulia Stark

Start with Strategy: Principles of a WildStory Brand

Start with Strategy: Principles of a WildStory Brand

the branding lab podcast

Tune in as we explore what it takes to build a truly strategic, heartfelt brand.


Start with Strategy: The Principles of a Wildstory Brand

By Yvonne Ivanescu


cGuess what, if your brand strategy is bad, it usually ends up showing up in your marketing. Are you wondering why you aren’t getting results on social media? Why your Facebook ads aren’t working? If you answered yes to the above question, then you probably have a brand problem. If your marketing isn’t working, or your content is not resonating with your audience, or if people are not clicking onto your website, then it’s time to reanalyze your brand strategy.


Marc Gutman is a storyteller, entrepreneur, adventure, and idealist. He’s also a friend of beer, coffee, water when waves, beaches, mountains, and snow. But most importantly, Mark loves stories today. Mark focuses his energy on Wild Story, the marketing agency for the arts, recreation, and entertainment industries.

In this episode, Marc and I talk about how every brand needs to start with strategy first; the importance of including your brand in your company culture; the power of authenticity, and the key branding question every business should ask. 


Let’s take a quick look at Apple and Samsung. In reality, there is no real difference between the two phones – you can text and stake photos. But what people are really buying is a way to differentiate themselves. 

This differentiation comes from brand attributes — questions such as: what is your core purpose, what do you stand for, what do you believe in, what is your voice and tone, who do you declare that you are for and against? 

Branding and brand strategy is becoming more important because it is becoming part of the conversation. People choose a brand, they enroll themselves into brands. Brand help defines who we are. Marc gives the example of the microphone is currently using, the Shure SM7B, and he chooses this mic because it is marketed as THE microphone that professionals and famous personalities use. And that brand messaged washed off onto him — he wanted to enroll and invest in that brand because he wanted to be part of that community and tribe. 

This is how brands must differentiate. Brands need to lean into qualities like their core purpose, their values, beliefs, what they stand for, etc. so that people can choose your brand and be part of your brand community.


Marc wants everyone to remember that all the big brands started somewhere. In the beginning, Walt Disney was just sketching cartoons. First and foremost, remember that all big companies started at the bottom. And so will you. All the big brands that entrepreneurs are comparing themselves against didn’t get to where they are overnight. They put in the work, and so must you.

The fundamental questions you must ask yourself: 

▶ Who are we for?

▶ What do we do?

▶ What is our backstory?

▶ What is our vision?

▶ What are our voice, tone, and personality?

▶ What is your why and purpose?

Don’t over-think it. Keep it simple. The last question might be the hardest to answer because entrepreneurs need to ask themselves the question: why do we exist beyond making money? 

That question is important because, according to Marc, there will be a lot of bad times. And during these bad times, entrepreneurs need something beyond the product that they are selling— something bigger than yourself to motivate you.


The second most important question that you need to focus on is: who are for? Your business exists to serve its customers. So who are your customers? What is their problem and how are you helping them solve that problem? As a brand, you need to know who you are for, and also who you are not for.


Let’s take the example of Patagonia, because, it’s doing everything right brand-wise. They know who they are and they know who they are not and from that, they have cultivated a strong and very loyal community. They’ve built a community around their brand. This loyal community is incredibly important because you have people who believe in your brand and who can look past some of the mistakes that you will make as a brand. Not only do they have this community but they are consistent and they are constantly showing up for their customers. If you think of brands as people, Patagonia is like your best friend who you love to have in your life — someone who is consistent, authentic, and reliable. They are not throwing you curveballs such as showing up one day as your best friend and then stabbing you in the back. 

But Patagonia knows who they are — they are consistent and repetitive across all channels. They talk about specific issues with a specific tone, and although this can constrain some of their creativity, they show up in a consistent way and they are extremely confident in who they are, who they serve, and their mission and values. 


▶ Start with Strategy

▶ Have a clear vision, mission, or greater purpose

▶ Culture = brand

▶ Create a Brand Manifesto

▶ Make the customer the hero of their own story

▶ Ask WHAT IF?

▶ Who are you?

▶ Never stop branding


Marc and I talk more about brand strategy, and we discuss in detail, the ten principles of a wild story brand, and how entrepreneurs need to be true to themselves while also remembering that branding is not a set it and forget but a life-long activity that will change and evolve as your brand grows over time. 

Hit play on the episode above for the full conversation on storytelling, strategic content, hiring a copywriter, and what you need to be able to produce branded content that your audience wants and needs. 


◼ Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn

◼ WILDSTORY Manifesto – Download the FREE Manifesto Brand Builder 

◼ Follow Marc Gutman on Twitter or Instagram

◼ Listen to another episode: Finding Your Business Why Your Brand Purpose with Yulia Stark