Every time I go to my hometown, a small dusty place in Uttar Pradesh, I always visit a particular watch shop to buy a new wristwatch. It’s not a one-dimensional buy-and-sell transaction. Each time I go there, I experience a special warmth, renew an old bond, and come away with a unique piece, immensely satisfied, even happy.
My passion for collecting watches apart, there’s a reason I take the trouble of visiting this modest showroom, as opposed to buying well-known brands from opulent showrooms or from an online marketplace: my connection with the business. The owner is an old friend and I know his story from the earliest days. Making a purchase from his shop adds yet another bead to our shared story. It’s a deeper connection that defies argument and reasoning.
When a customer buys something from a brand, not only are they fulfilling their immediate need, they are, at a deeper level, connecting with the brand and saying, “Yes, I identify with you and what you stand for.”
It’s not just about a superficial feeling – it’s a close identification with the business, its ethos and values, its principles of engagement with the world, its commitment to issues that are close to the customer’s heart.
Storytelling to highlight the human aspect
Businesses need their stories to differentiate them in a forest of same faces. Facts are impressive: jaw-dropping profits and revenues and all the ‘new business in the last year’ coupled with the imposing range of products and outlets in the country or world. Facts tell the growth story of a business with absolute certainty. Excellent!
But then, the brand’s real achievement shines through that one story of how a disadvantaged person was supported and put on the road to happiness, or how an initiative by the business brought a smile to a widow’s face, or gave a family a new home. These are the human stories that actually move the customer and help to forge an emotional link. The customer now sees the business as a complete entity, that works not only for its shareholders but also for people and society. It is how the customer puts a face to the business they can connect with in a meaningful way. After all, our brains are wired to respond to stories – a story always sticks in our memory, long after those shiny figures and facts have faded away.
Being human and profitable are not mutually exclusive
In our age of ‘positive-deficit’, in a time when people all over the world are surrounded by bad news in different shades, building a ‘tribe’ around your brand makes total sense, right?!
After all is said and done, becoming a part of and changing people’s lives is no small goal to aspire to. Increasingly, as customers demand that businesses support real people and causes, they also desire to know the impact of such corporate-level engagements. When customers know that a business is greater than its revenues and profits, it’s a powerful incentive for deeper engagement, recommendation to their friends, and thus, the circle expands.
We must also not forget that trust in a business is greatly cemented with the help of real customer stories and especially in sectors that engage with human emotions or require the human touch like hospitality, healthcare financial service and insurance companies.
Employees need more than salaries
In this age of the Great Reset, when employees are seeking greater motivations than salaries and perks, brand storytelling could actually help give employees the pride of association with their organization. It gives meaning to their daily jobs, and the sense of being part of a greater purpose. As the pandemic wanes and people return to their jobs, they now desire more than a job – and this is where the brand story is reassuring evidence of the larger purpose and impact of the business.
As more and more businesses reinvent their digital selves in the glittering age of Web3 and metaverse, a human soul, and a real human voice comes to gain more significance than ever before.
Published on 22 April 2022.