Does your brand story address the question: What’s at stake?

Brand stories live and die by a single question: 'What's at stake?' Nobody cares if there is nothing to gain or lose. We need to make consumers understand the cost of not doing business with us. In the same way, good stories enthrall an audience by defining what is at stake, brands engage customers by helping them to avoid some sort of negativity in life. Does your brand story help your customer answer the question: 'What's at stake?'

What’s at stake? It is a question every marketer needs to answer because every brand story is about an idea, problem, or opportunity. The stakes are the underlying motivations for people to care about these and invest time and money in your brand.

If your brand story doesn’t make clear the no-good, terrible, awful things that might happen to customers if they fail to overcome their challenge, lose the opportunity, or are unable to solve the problem, it will lack stakes. A story that does not convey what’s at stake for the customer is ineffective because it does not tell customers what could happen if they don’t buy your products or services.

You must read the article, How your brand story playbook pages should look like.

Make the goal clear

We must tell our customers how great their life can be if they buy your products and services.

Johnson and Johnson say, ‘We believe babies deserve the best start in life’. This brand motto instantly creates a FOMO (fear of missing out). If you are not buying their baby products, you will deprive your babies of the best they can have.

Nike says, ‘Just do it’. The slogan implies consumers should not wait for motivation or inspiration to act. Instead, Nike encourages them to go ahead and take the first step, thereby creating the fear of losing out on achievement by mulling over it.  

Apple says, ‘Think differently’. This message encourages people to think outside the box and not be afraid to try something new because Apple has their back. It clearly states where Apple’s products will take their customers, which other technology companies cannot. It’s another example of how to create FOMO for customers.

Another example of a relatable brand promise is Dove’s Real Beauty campaign. It resonates with people who feel insecure about their looks and makes them want to buy Dove products to feel more confident.

You must read the article, How to cut the noise and clutter to clarify your brand message.

Don't be a fear monger

An unsalted dish tastes bland, and oversalting it makes it inedible. Fear is like salt; you must use it in the proper proportions. Overdoing the fear factor puts you at a high risk of blocking them out, so don’t be a fearmonger. A pinch of fear is good; too many ominous announcements will turn off customers. There is little change in attitude or behavior when the receivers are either extremely fearful or incredibly unafraid. Low levels of fear are insufficient to have the desired impact; high levels are so overwhelming that people block them out.

The best messages to change customer attitudes and behaviors contain a moderate amount of fear-rousing content.

You must read the article, Why your brand story must have a three-tier conflict structure.

Be careful while crafting your message

Excess is a cardinal sin not just in the philosophical sense but also in marketing. There are many examples of failed brand campaigns due to it. Even big brands make mistakes. 

  • The Pepsi campaign with Kendall Jenner was meant to be inspirational about overcoming challenges and becoming a hero, but customers interpreted it as trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • A Dove campaign showed a black woman taking off her shirt and turning into a white woman. The ad was meant to show all skin colors are beautiful, but it had the opposite effect. Consumers trashed it for being racist.
  • The fast-food chain Subway 2018 attempted to rebrand itself as a healthy and fresh alternative. However, their marketing campaign met with criticism and a backlash, as many pointed out that their sandwiches contained processed meats and high levels of sodium. As a result, the rebranding looked inauthentic and failed to resonate with consumers.
  • In 2013, the clothing company American Apparel faced controversy over its advertising campaign, which featured overly sexualized images of young women. The campaign was widely criticized for objectifying women and promoting unhealthy body image standards. As a result, it was deemed a failure, and the company faced a backlash from consumers and advocacy groups.
  • In 2010, Sony‘s electronics company launched a new line of televisions, the Bravia series. The marketing campaign focused heavily on the color and clarity of the screens, using the slogan ‘The Bravest TV Ever’. However, customers criticized it for being overly bold and arrogant. As a result, the campaign failed to generate the desired sales.
  • In 2019, the beauty company L’Oreal faced a backlash over a social media campaign that featured the tagline, ‘Because I’m Worth It.” It intended to empower women and promote self-confidence, but consumers felt the slogan was tone-deaf. Thus, the movement landed with a thud, and the company faced criticism for not accurately representing women’s experiences.

The desire to achieve something is universal. If we don’t tell customers where we’re taking them and what’s at stake for them, they’ll engage with another brand. So, offer them a vision of how great their life could be if they journey with your brand.

You must read the article, Does your brand story instill a sense of urgency?

We can help you develop a brand story, message, storytelling, and buyer personas, build personalized marketing strategies and create strategic content.

Contact us to learn more.

About the author

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Get more insights like these in your inbox hot off the presses >

Subscribe to our blog

0 lists selected