Read 6 minutes
The opinions of entrepreneurs' contributors are their own.
“Never meet your heroes,” goes the saying. But disappointment and disappointment are not always the case. Some heroes are just as heroic up close as they are at a distance – the trick is to find them!
Brands can also be heroes. Whether it's giving back to the community, getting involved in green policies, or advocating for diversity, I've seen brands establish themselves as something to look up to with both competition and target audience. As I am building my own business, these heroes and their methods have taught me lessons that I can use in my own branding journey.
Related: 5 Killer Examples of Branding Done Right
Become a brand hero through storytelling
Storytelling is one of the most powerful marketing tools as it appeals to the emotions and empathy of the viewer. There are a few ways you can use storytelling to establish a hero brand.
Tell the brand's story of origin – especially effective if the brand started out as an outsider.
Use the hero's journey in marketing with the brand as a "hero" character.
Aside from simple marketing right now, one of my favorite tropes in branding is the journey from underdog to hero. Not every brand starts like this; some brands were favorites from the start, had a lot of money, met a need without compromising. But that doesn't make for very effective storytelling.
Audiences connect more closely with brands they can empathize with. One of the first names that comes to mind is JK Rowling. Her personal brand was built on a classic underdog story, with her story as a working mom scribbling stories on her breaks and late at night. It created an emotional connection with the audience when they realized how far she had come and made her the heroine of her own brand.
Another way to establish a brand as the hero of its own story is to illustrate the challenges the company has faced. Another classic underdog-to-hero story is Ben & Jerry’s – which also happens to be my favorite ice cream. The dynamic duo began with a $ 5 correspondence course in ice cream making, and their popularity soon caught the attention of a major competitor – Haagen-Dazs. The larger company tried to force the smaller one off the shelves of grocery stores, which resulted in a lawsuit. From battling the greats and winning, to focusing on doing something for charity and avoiding artificial growth hormones, the entire story of Ben & Jerry is a hero storytelling model.
Related: The Power of Empathic Storytelling
Hero branding through action
But branding a company a hero through storytelling doesn't work for long if the actions behind the company don't keep up. Audiences can tell if brands aren't going their way. And with 86% of consumers citing authenticity as a deciding factor in whether or not they endorse a brand, it's pretty clear how important it is.
I mean think about it. Would you support Superman if he only claimed to be saving people without actually providing evidence?
Actions vary a lot, and I've found it's important not to ignore the smaller things that add to hero branding. Sure, there are companies that donate proceeds to charity – Newman’s Own is a well-known example that has donated over $ 550 million plus to charities since its inception in 1982.
But I also appreciate the brands that fall back on the emotional connection. They make promises that match their customers' values and then keep them. Burt & # 39; s Bees – another company I've been a long-time fan of – has made its brand promise a large part of its identity with a "Greater Good" philosophy, promising products that are good for the environment, good for the consumer and good for. are the company – in short, good for everyone involved. Over time, the brand has kept that promise through the ingredients it uses, the way they package their items, and the focus on inclusivity with their target audience.
Related: 4 Ways Your Business Can Benefit From The Return
Visually appealing brand
One of the most effective uses of hero branding that I've seen is incorporating the story / actions into the visual design strategy. Some brands do this directly – Newman & # 39; s Own, for example, puts their donations right into their product packaging.
A more subtle option is to choose graphic design elements to reinforce your hero brand. This is always a good idea, but it becomes even more effective when the visual elements directly reflect the Heroes brand. Typically, hero brands use strong, warm, vibrant color schemes and a simple, memorable logo design. Consider Burt’s Bees as an example of another brand that I mentioned earlier. Skin care and beauty products are moving towards black and white, minimalist, elegant branding, but Burt’s Bees is a pop of vibrant, warm colors that stands out from the crowd and perfectly reflects the company's welcoming, integrative values.
My point here is that your brand's storytelling and actions can establish them as heroes, but visual branding still plays a role in backing this up. Visual design was my primary interest in starting my business, and my experience has shown that careful selection of your logo design, web design, and other visual elements, as basic as it may seem, can make a difference in maintaining your brand in the "hero" makes status. "
The result for brand heroes
Ultimately, the main goal for entrepreneurs is alignment – you can only establish your brand as a hero in its own right if you keep the promises you make and your actions must be aligned with your values.
I've seen it again and again with the brands mentioned here and other brands – creating a “hero brand” is a holistic approach, from graphics and marketing to storytelling and follow-through. Sure, individual brands can become heroes – but for companies like mine, the decisions that led us there are just as important.