How brands tell stories, touch lives and drive customer action

Sonal Khetarpal   New Delhi     Last Updated: May 9, 2017  | 19:50 IST
How brands tell stories, touch lives and drive customer action

"It is the age of compassionate capitalism. As companies look at creating their brand stories, they have to inject meaning in brands because that is what connects with millennials," said Harsh Verma, Professor of Marketing at Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), University of Delhi, at the Content Marketing Summit Asia 2017.

According to Verma, brands are creating narratives that question the existing sociocultural ecosystem while trying to create a positive change. This has led to clear shift in priorities where brands do not talk about economic utility of the product but focus on becoming the means for consumers to negotiate their cultural plane.

But to do that, brands will have to understand the psycho-socio-cultural world of consumers. Brand stories will have to juxtapose compassion with commerce, good with bad and relevance with resonance to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and ultimately, will have to drive profitable customer action, added Verma.

He shared the story of the denim brand Diesel that made 'Be Stupid' its philosophy. The brand explains that through a series of taglines such as 'Stupid is the relentless pursuit of a regret-free life. Smart may have the brains… but stupid has the balls.' Or 'The smart might recognize things for how they are. The stupid see things for how they could be.' Or 'Smart critiques. Stupid creates.' Or 'Being stupid means listening to your heart.'

Similarly, take the sportswear brand Reebok, which is not just talking about hard core sport and performance. It has changed its positioning to be a fitness brand, said Kanika Mittal, Director (Brand Marketing and Communications), at Reebok India. It has changed the tagline to 'Be More Human' where the brand is not asking people to be physically active. It is saying fitness not only improves the physical self but it is also about mental toughness and helps people to be a better version of themselves. The company's more recent campaign 'Fit to Fight' is about celebrating real-life stories of inspiring women.

Several studies have shown it is meaningful content that gets shared most on social media, says Anamika Sirohi, Business Strategy and Marketing Leader, Nestle India. Brand builders have to work on two pillars: Focus on fundamentals that are timeless and adapt the reality of the new world. In doing so, brands have to inspire, educate, reward and inform consumers, adds Sirohi.


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