Is Brand Storytelling Better If It Comes From Your Company Or Consumers?

Ample research confirms that brand storytelling is the most powerful strategy for brand building. But is that brand story better if it comes from your company or if it comes from consumers? A new joint research paper by the Soules School of Business University of Texas, and The University of California, explores the idea that brand storytelling that is created, developed and shared by consumers is a more powerful way to embed company brand stories. In previous posts we have explored this concept, whereby consumers become the originators of your brand story through research into what drives your consumer segments, who then find affinity and attachment in your brand because the brand is a projection and substantiation of the ideals and beliefs that shape their world. This joint research paper takes up this subject and extends the research into how consumer brand storytelling shapes perceptions, influences attitudes, and creates positive sentiment beyond what you can do by pushing your own brand into the community conversation.

The researchers conclude: "The results show that consumers' brand storytelling increases favourable brand attitudes. Consumers present deeper cognitive processing and higher experienced positive emotions when they read consumer brand storytelling as compared to a firm-created brand story, leading to a more favourable brand attitude."

What's interesting beyond the immediate findings is how, independent of your own brand storytelling efforts, a brand created by consumers for your company, products or services can be created as a powerful enabler or disabler of your brand. For instance, it's well-known that a negative experience, or a grouping of negative experiences about your brand can be easily created as story that can damage your brand, without your input or influence. Think about a string of negative reviews of your product or service, from bad food reviews, to a mass recall of a drug, like Children's Tylenol, that harms children, or a massive oil spill that harms the environment and kills wildlife. In these cases, a company will try to intervene to reposition or spin the story as best they can against the consumer brand story that's been created - all the more difficult with so much social media mediating such events. But, a positive and authentic consumer brand story? If it doesn't originate with you at all, and will be out of your control once it's out there and gains momentum, is it possible at all for you to ignite a positive consumer brand story in the first place? Is it only about doing your best to create positive customer experiences over and over again? Or is there more that can be done? Let us know what you think at hello@donovanstrategic.com

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