Our attention is the new economy, and we don’t have as much of it as we used to. Data experts claim that our attention, when online, is now less than a few seconds. We’re constantly assessing, making immediate decisions about how information, products, design, copy, and images are presented to us. And, if it doesn’t resonate with us quickly, we move on.
To us, this doesn’t sound like an attention span. Rather, it sounds like a filter.
What does this mean for you and your business in the attention span economy? If your eco-friendly business is going to make a genuine connection and not be filtered out, you’re going to need a great brand story to do it.
Once you craft that intimate brand story, bound together authentically by purpose, product and planet, you’ll attract more attention – and for more than a few seconds.
WHY STORYTELLING RESONATES WITH CONSCIOUS CONSUMERSStorytelling is important because it aligns with our brain wiring as a sense-making tool. Stories create an emotional connection and emotional connections solidify memories. Some of the best brand stories crux on simplicity, authenticity, and consistency. While telling your “why” story may feel uncomfortable at first, it creates an opportunity to emotionally connect with consumers. It offers more than just a product, it also offers them an experience. And, if you do a really great job of telling your story, they’ll feel like they’re a part of it.
55% of people consider buying from a brand if they love their brand story. If you can move your audience to feel something, it builds trust. And that emotional connection and trust can make selling your products easier.
According to the IPCC we need to cut 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions –within this decade– to give us half a chance to stop global warming. That's a huge shift. So let's get more eco-friendly products into the hands of eager consumers ASAP. These customers demand better. They want products that build a more just and healthier carbon neutral future. And, they want a great story to keep their favorite brands top of mind.
TO WRITE YOUR BRAND STORY, START WITH YOUR FOUNDER'S VISION
Ok, so a founder’s vision isn’t always a direct translation to a great brand story. But it can be a starting point to lay a good foundation. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your founder vision to begin brainstorming ideas:
- What problem were you trying to solve when you created your eco-friendly product?
- Why did you pick this problem to solve?
- Why is that problem important now?
- What makes your business and products able to help solve this problem?
- Why are conscious consumers needed to solve the problem?
Once you’ve answered these questions, weave it into a relatable, memorable storyline. Basically you’ll be laying out a story of:
- Who you are
- What you sell
- Who you do it for
- How it solves their problem
- Why all the information above matters
Also, begin thinking about ways you can further develop your story via visual design that expresses the feelings and purpose through imagery and color. When you’re done with your story, it should reflect in your brand's messaging, your web page, your logo, videos, social presence, packaging, and beyond.
THE CHARACTERS OF YOUR BRAND STORY
Seth Godin’s definition of brand is: a set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, put together, impact a consumer’s decision to choose one product over another.
This is to say that having a concrete brand story can help a conscious consumer pick your product over another.
In a classic hero’s journey structure, your customers are the heroes who are answering the call to action. Will they help make the world a better place by purchasing your product? Are they ready to be more sustainable or eco-friendly with their purchasing decisions? Whether someone answers this call to action is what makes them a hero. Post purchase is when they become a fully transformed hero and an enthusiastic, loyal customer.
Your role is always to be the guide and the narrator. As the narrator, you tell the story that invites them in and provides them the role of the main character. As the guide, you’ll be inspiring mindful consumers and answering any questions they have. And, as we know, eco-friendly products come with quite a few questions! By allowing them to assume the role of the hero, you’re making the story about them. But you’re here to help them travel throughout the story and progress from one part to the next.
And, there’s one other guide worth mentioning. Regardless of how you feel about influencers, they do have a sway on conscious consumer purchasing decisions. Be intentional and thoughtful when you choose your influencer guides. Make sure they align with the core of your mission and add depth or align with your brand story.
WRITING THE STORY AS A CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Your storytelling framework is a repackaging of storytelling conventions similar to “The Hero’s Journey”. This story framing reaches back millennia from Plato and the Odyssey to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the latest Hollywood Oscar winners
1. Every story starts with a CHARACTER living their everyday life. In this case, this is your potential customer.
2. All of a sudden, a PROBLEM arises. This can be an internal, external and philosophical conflict that they’re experiencing. This is where really knowing your target customer is helpful in writing your brand story. Perhaps they have realized the climate crisis is worse than they thought and they want to make an intentional change to their daily habits and purchases. They need toilet paper, laundry detergent, or toothpaste. They go online to search for these items specifically for sustainable brands to help make a change and solve the problem. But it’s confusing. There are many, many new terms that they’re unfamiliar with. What is greenwashing? What is purpose washing? And who can they really trust? They begin to question everything. They feel unsure about moving forward with this purchase. They want a simple, sustainable alternative quickly and easily from someone they can trust.
3. Then they encounter a GUIDE. That’s you and your brand. One way or another, they landed on your website. With your guidance, you narrate your story about their problems with empathy and understanding. You also share your similar values. You provide details on how you’ll solve their problem. You’re transparent. It’s not easy or cheap, but it’s important. The consumer feels like you’re talking directly to them. What you stand for resonates with them. They begin to know, like, and trust you.
4. Then, as the guide, you offer a PLAN. You share how they can take action to solve their problem, make an impact, and save the day (and planet)! You clearly and easily break down bite sized information about how your products are sustainably made with earth friendly materials. Plus, they’ll be supporting your other causes, like reforestation and supporting social groups within your industry or related to your purpose!
5. You CALL THEM TO ACTION. This is the moment your main character can transcend into becoming their main character role and become a hero. You encourage them to buy your product, to vote with their dollar, and join your movement.
6. They accept your offer, and SUCCESS HAPPENS. They become the hero of their own story. Your brand and product saves the day!
7. FAILURE IS AVOIDED. They chose to take your advice, follow your plan, and fulfill your call to action by buying from you. This equally helped to mitigate the risks of the climate crisis, and bring attention to your cause.
And, full TRANSFORMATION occurs. They love your product. They write you great reviews. They recommend you to their friends and post your products on social media. This is golden-word-of-mouth, social proof. It’s all organic marketing, real people magic that will move mountains for your brand.
Your target customer has become a full-fledged HERO of their own story. They searched, found, and conquered! They got a sustainable product they wanted and it was because of you and your-brand-as-the-guide, your products, and by bringing them into your unique and compelling brand story.
When you follow the rules of these storytelling principles– they work! This is because of something called “Narrative Transportation.” Narrative transportation theory says the more immersed an audience becomes in a story, the more receptive they become to the point of view. They relate to the situation and/or the characters.
What’s the best way to hold their attention? By creating a connection with empathy and tensions with what’s at risk. As the narration builds, the longer you must hold their attention. The longer you hold their attention, the more likely they are to care about the story.
Just like when you need a new product. You dedicate time to pick out the right one. Likely, you want a brand that solves your problem and who’s brand story clearly empathizes and aligns with your point of view and values. You want to invest in products that make your life better, and the world better without contributing to the climate crisis. When you find a brand story that resonates with you, it’s easy to imagine yourself owning the product, feeling inspired by making a difference and an impact. Thus, you become the hero of another ethical brand’s story!
This is how easily an audience can fall into a narration that speaks directly to them, transporting them inside the story. The rest of their life pauses as they engage with your brand.
If you break the rules of these storytelling principles and do not follow this formula, your conscious consumers do not experience Narrative Transportation. The audience isn’t engaged. Rather they’re distracted which means there is a high likelihood that they won’t answer the call to action.
CREATING CONSISTENCY IN YOUR ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCT BRAND STORY
Once you have an understanding of your target audience and your brand story, it’s time to bring the rest of your brand to life! You do this via:
- Your copy: brand messaging, brand voice, brand story, website, social media, etc.
- Your graphic and brand visual design: logos, colors, fonts, illustrations, photography, videos, etc.
These must be seamlessly integrated together. They should all support each other and build upon one another in an intentional and strategic way to create your brand’s compelling story.
Here’s an example of a Brand Strategy Direction Guide to show you in more detail what this looks like.
While it can be tempting to create ads before focusing on creating your brand’s unique positioning through story, don’t do it! Your story will allow you to capitalize on your ads later. Using a consistent story narrative in your ads, and on your website can help sell your products no matter where your potential customer has found you. Consistency sells. Don’t skip the important step of setting yourself apart with a great story you can reiterate consistently and methodically with ease throughout every brand touchpoint, ad, and content you create.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO TELL THE WHOLE STORY ON YOUR OWN.
Consumers deserve to have ethical and environmentally sustainable product choices. People want to support mindful commerce. Conscious consumers want to support businesses who take responsibility for climate change. They don’t want to carry the burden as the consumer. And, with a great story line, they’re often willing to support these businesses even if they have to pay a little more. So, take a stand. Be clear, be real, be bold. Tell the story of who you are, what you sell, who you do it for, and why it matters.
We know great storytelling is hard to do. We want you to know that you’re not alone and we’re here to help.
By working with Teresa Villegas Design, brands have an opportunity to move their audience towards a more mindful, sustainable lifestyle. We’re a part of an era that finds a way for businesses to benefit people and the natural world. And, we help make your brand memorable.
If you’re ready to get help creating visual and verbal brand messaging using storytelling principles, let’s get in touch. Together we can craft a memorable brand story to connect and maintain your relationship with your ideal conscious consumers and bring in more sales.