“Tell your story.”

That’s what the experts say. It’s what we keep hearing over and over in our industry. We’re hit over the head with how important it is to tell the story of our business and to show customers who we are. We’re told to talk about our imperfections, our executives, our favorite products and the things we care about. It’s not bad advice, but it’s simplifying things just a bit.

Brand storytelling is much deeper than sharing how your company was founded or reciting your goals, your mission and what you believe in. Telling your story means giving context to what your brand stands for.

The most important aspect of your branding is the promise you make to your customers. It’s that underlying idea of not only who you are, but what your values are, your goals, what makes you tick and why it is you do what you do. That promise needs to be inserted into everything you do. Keep inserting it. Brands are formed through patterns. The repetition matters.

When we talk about brands, some still think the word refers to your brand name or your brand’s logo. But it’s more than that. Your brand is that ongoing perception, personality and voice of your company. It lays the groundwork for the kind of customers you attract and what their expectations will ultimately be.

One way we love to tell stories here at Overit is to create branded characters. But we don’t stop there. We also bring them to life, giving them motion, personality, voices and a point of view.

This step is not for everyone, sure, but for many products and services (and audiences) we’ve found that it works superbly. We all know the gecko that sells insurance. We know his face, the sound of his voice and his mannerisms. They’ve become part of the brand and the experience. Without the gecko, would you still recognize Geico?

They probably don’t want to find out.

Why go this extra step with your brand and not only create a great character, but give it life?

  • People connect better to a “living” character. When you animate your logo or your brand character you immediately give it a personality, a voice and a view of the world. Consumers relate to this better than a static image.
  • It creates stronger brand recognition. Who thinks about Geico without thinking of the gecko, mate? There’s a reason The Geico Gecko has its own Facebook page. It’s due to the social nature of people, we tend to see faces in random patterns, we’re wired to connect with each other – having a character with personality and movement just makes this easier.
  • Think about the term “Character development.” Why do books, movies, TV shows, and commercials invest in that? Connection. Simple, right? So why aren’t you investing in it?

A brand/character that inspires any sort of emotion is a big factor in recognizing and remembering the brand. Static characters can’t do this as well as animated ones, no matter how much branding you are continuing to do.

Some examples of great living, breathing brand characters?

The General of General Insurance:

Caddie of Catseye Pest Control:

Yes, this is our work, but we’re kind of in love with the continuation of Catseye’s cast of characters..

Snuggle Bear:

C’mon! This is another brand that has continued to grow the character and improve it. They are hitting up their audience perfectly.

Mr. Kool-Aid

Wow, he’s come a long way. Check out this trippy TV commercial:

And this watch the new CGI modern version.

He keeps reinventing himself. Like Madonna wishes she could!

They’re great, right? So why stop there? Let’s keep it going. Here are some brands we’d LOVE to see make a deeper investment in their brand characters.

Nuts.com

A fan favorite here at Overit, this company has created a great cast of characters to represent its products. Why not do something more? We want to see how the characters relate to one another and why they think people should be eating more nuts and dried fruit. Give me a pitch! But not from the brand of Nuts.com, in the voice of one of the characters. They have great products they could constantly be educating consumers on. They also have a loyal customer base, with quality products, personal touches, good communication tactics, and superb customer service.

AND a great story to keep telling! What better than to continue that connection?

Zingerman’s

The illustrations! Too much possibility and they are all-around amazing. Don’t just sit on these illustrations. Use them to convey your brand and to keep it top of mind! They are almost worth a trip to Ann Arbor by themselves- in the middle of winter. The employees are passionate, the products are amazing quality, the catalog is beautiful, the brand personality is cool. IF Zingerman’s took the time to do something animated, it’d HAVE to be awesome, right?

Children’s National Medical Center

With such an important name and reputation in pediatric care (not to mention such a stellar reputation, as well as such an important place in people’s lives), why are they not doing more? They have a good amount of video in their media center but nothing using this character they have as a brand. They have a phone number incorporating the word “BEAR” into it. You’d think that the ‘for patients and families’ section would accentuate the bear. Lots of opportunity here for connection on many, many levels.

Happy Family Brands

Great products, great website, great customer service (with first-hand experience on that!) and an awesome brand. They are already making connections with customers through the use of video and social media. What’s the next logical step for this children’s brand…?

Oh, we did a little experiment to show you.

Cool, right?

There is so much opportunity here to use the assets they have developed. To have the parents and children connect constantly, to accentuate the promise of this great brand.

The experts are telling you the truth. You do have to tell your story and convey your message. And you have to do it through every touch point available to your customers.

If you are a luxury brand in the service industry, every part of your brand identity must convey this from your website to every employee your customer encounters. Having just recently visited The Jefferson DC hotel, we were lucky to witness a phenomenal example of this in real life. Your business must do the same. Same goes for you in the business of products. Your products have to comply with the expectations you set forth for your customers, as well as your customer service. If you are missing one element of this, you are losing customers.

If you have a brand character in place, keep going. What does its voice and personality sound like? What does it mean to you? Is it playful? Trendy? Professional and clean? Funky and hipster? Identify it. And then be it.

We dare you to be so good your customers can’t help but remember you, connect with you and tell others your story.