Creating emotional connections with Customers
Brands are not mutually exclusive to their stories, it is the people who provide leadership and spearhead the strategies to make it compelling, desirable and appealing to potential customers. Actually, they are synergistically linked because storytelling is at the heart of leading organizations. Creating powerful brand authenticity requires not only visual, engaging and targeted strategies; it also involves curating stories about the brand’s promise and experiences that are incredible and emotionally powerful. It also requires executives who are engaging, excited and can emotionally connect the brand and its customers through telling good stories. According to Erasmus University good storytelling is a powerful way for leaders to bring value, credibility and authenticity to the brand through stories that are compelling and powerful. New research indicates that 80 percent of consumers want brands to tell stories as part of their marketing, but work needs to be done to make those narratives more memorable.
“…..storytelling is a great way to get your point of across, differentiate your brand, and work out new ideas. Today, if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur or leader, you also have to be a storyteller.”
The power of executive storytelling in amplifying brand authenticity is more relevant than ever, given the impact of big data and digital media platforms. Customers want to connect with brand through their stories with influential team members of the organization in a manner that is transparent, open and honest. A Gallup study found that customers spend more with companies that utilize storytelling to align people, purpose and product [service] with the customer at the heart of the brand experience. Executive storytelling optimizes all the power of the brand amplification framework to facilitate people-driven storytelling from the organization and optimize opportunities for customers to build narratives that strengthen and legitimize brand authenticity.
“Brands need to inject the magic of storytelling into their marketing to tap into people’s emotions.”
When it comes to executive storytelling, strong leadership is essential not only to give your team the confidence to reach out to your organization’s audiences through different content management strategies, but offers them opportunity to build brand authenticity through engagement, change and espouse a desired future. It is essential for the leadership team, to learn about executive storytelling and understand that their customers must have three essential drivers: relevance, truth and meaning. In today’s hyper connected society, when it comes to brand authenticity, it is vital that stories are clear, concise and honest. According to research conducted by Professor Jennifer Aaker, Stanford University it highlighted that ‘executives are keepers of the narrative flame, not the owners of it” and the focus of executive storytelling should be always people-oriented, not product-oriented as exemplified by one of the world’s leading luxury brands, whose growth strategy is built on storytelling — The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company. Its leadership starts with great stories they share each and every day. The Ritz Carlton Hotel Company, winner of the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, the only hotel company in the world to have won this prestigious recognition.
The Ritz Carlton co-founder, Horst Schulze highlighted that the brand is built on sharing stories as a form of education to amplify the standards of the brand. He noted that “the leader reads the standard, make comments about what it means, and tells a story or reads a relevant customer comment to show the standard in action.” Horst Schulze, co-founder of The Ritz Carlton, highlights that ‘storytelling is the most powerful way to convey these ideas.’ He noted, that the ‘ladies and gentlemen’ who enliven service excellence worldwide of The Ritz Carlton makes an active, not passive, contribution to be a real part of creating something memorable. Executive storytelling help reinforces and amplifies that brands promise, in its long-term pursuit which is ‘to make an indelible mark on the world through its beliefs and behaviors.’ Curating memorable moments that immerses the customers into a sensory experience that forms the heart and soul of the brand authenticity, given it is credo and the ‘ladies and gentlemen, serving ladies and gentlemen’ that drives engagement of the hotel standards in a huge way to help grow the company and provide a consistent customer experience.
Stories are remembered more than facts and a good story can set a brand apart from the competition, when it is incorporated as a key element in their growth strategy. This emerges when the executives champion the brand’s authenticity through art of storytelling in an influential manner that enlivens the brand experience which is designed with the customer in mind. Executive storytelling is an essential component of creating those emotional connections. It helps organization’s leadership to illuminate that — the excitement, the challenges, big successes and some very important learning experiences in bringing it to the [product or service] to the customer. Customers want to buy a product or service from a company they relate to and they understand. They want to glean your organization’s values, your commitment to excellence and the brand’s promise and be inspired and intrigued by those elements.
“[Executive] storytelling also plays a role in elevating the customer experience.”
According to research conducted by a leading public relations and marketing agency for Fortune 500 companies, 89 percent of customers choose authentic brands over those that are not as transparent. Consumers rate brand authenticity very highly with a compelling brand story that is engaging and helps to influence their purchase decision. Executive storytelling help leaders to be more understanding, compassionate and bring intelligence to the brand’s authenticity that is thoughtful, direct and relatable, which fosters adaptability and help it to translate the organization’s vision, growth strategy and brand loyalty.
© Hugh Anthony, PhD