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EXECUTIVE INSIGHTS | Staff Reporter, Singapore
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How storytelling can build a stronger connection with your customers

Even in the QSR world, the key to branding is parallel to the story your company wants to tell.

For many brands out there, one of the most difficult challenges to overcome is the problem of how to make a company stand out amongst a sea of competitors. In a digital world where time and attention are premium commodities, getting consumers to notice your brand is no easy feat.

At the QSR Media Asia Conference and Awards 2019, Tony Ibbotson, owner and creative director of the design and branding agency The Creative Method, proposed a simple solution that any struggling brand can adopt: know your story, and tell it.

Or in other words, identify the key qualities that make your brand unique, and use it to create connection and engagement with your audience through the in-store brand experience.

“For a start, having fresh produce, that is not what makes you unique. That is not a story. That is a standard across the board,” Ibbotson said.

“Having a story and being able to tell stories is really important. Storytelling is the oldest form of branding. Before people could read or write, how they solve things was through storytelling. So a story that is easily told amongst consumers, that goes a long way to get people remembering who you are and what you do.”

Creating your brand's personality
A distinctly unique personality or even human interactions between the company and its customers can serve to bridge the gap between a brand and its market.

Ibbotson recalled how in building the Australia-based Mexican food chain Guzman y Gomez (GYG) they created visual assets and took photographs of Mexico to create an authentic feel to the brand’s identity. Through their visual assets and store design, they also showed genuine reactions to their hot sauces for an in-store experience that is familiar and memorable.

To inject a little humour into their branding, GYG plastered its walls and even its food packaging with striking pronunciation guides for “Guzman y Gomez”, knowing that many Australians will have trouble saying the brand’s Mexican name.

“With anything you do when looking to increase your engagement with the customer, look for as many opportunities as possible to tell your story,” Ibbotson said.

Investing in creative visual assets pays off. In coming up with assets for fish and chips brand Doyle’s, he and his company focused their attention on detail and design. Doyle’s, which has been operating since the late 1800s, ended up with a thematic Art Deco look that referenced the company’s historic past.

They also came up with stylish uniforms for the company’s employees that served the dual purpose of reinforcing Doyle’s unique design, and building team morale by having uniforms that staff members liked wearing.

Even better was when customers started asking where they could buy the uniforms as well.

“If somebody can describe what were your brand looks like, you're in a really good space,” he said.

Subtle nuggets of personality and humour can also be a great way to build on a brand’s social media game. In the age of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, having an iconic look alongside visual assets and an in-store experience that consumers can engage with on social media will go a long way.

“At the end of the day, you’re selling food and the food has to be good. But the greater the emotional connection people have to your brand, the easier it is to grow that brand. And obviously it’s part of how you get people to remember who you are and what you do,” Ibbotson said.

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