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Consumer choice is moving from individual-centric to planet-centric decision making, as customers consider the impact they have on the planet. Last year saw a huge increase in demand for ethical food and beverages, with growth in organic sales doubling that of non-organic sales. Recent research suggests that businesses are more likely to succeed if they can communicate their positive actions effectively. And now, during this time of uncertainty around climate change, biodiversity loss and – of course – health this desire for ethical and sustainable produce has reached an all time high.
Clare McDermott, business development director at Soil Association, said, “This crisis has placed our food and farming system in the spotlight like never before. Despite the likelihood of tighter budgets, consumer habits are shifting. With so many of us finding nature a vital source of respite in these difficult times, sustainability and the environment remain at the top of the agenda for citizens. In the long term, we expect many shoppers to stick with their new choices of box schemes, online and independents too, having made conscious choices to buy more sustainably.”
Making that human connection
In this rollercoaster of lockdowns and restrictions, we all miss our old lives. We miss hugs, seeing people smile, being together. People are craving emotional connections.
How can you cultivate a genuine relationship with your customers? By telling your story. Stories help humanise your brand. Get it right and you can trigger a biological response in your audience. Three hormones can be elevated through storytelling: dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. Dopamine affects focus, motivation and reward-response behaviour – critical to engaging and incentivising your audience to act on your message. Oxytocin or the ‘love hormone’ elicits bonding behaviour, empathy and trust. Stories evoke a powerful phenomenon called mirroring, where the audience experiences similar brain activity to the storyteller. Endorphins relieve stress and can induce a euphoric high. When endorphins are in play, people are known to make decisions and then rationalise later – pivotal in influencing their buying decisions. Understanding these hormones will help your story have real emotional resonance.
How to tell your brand story for a lasting impact
It is evident, your customers want you to do good. Ambition for your business needs to be about more than just money. So ask yourself: what good do I do for the world? Why do I do it? Who do I do it for? If you can answer these questions, you are ready to tell a brand story that is meaningful, powerful and authentic.
Don’t focus on what you want, focus on what your customers want. Your story needs to be relevant to the people you are trying to reach. Do they want to support struggling communities? Do they want to support education? Do they want to protect nature? Tell them how they can do this.
Make it personal
People want to hear a real voice. They want to know a real person. A study revealed that when charities use character-driven stories, people donate more money to them. Identify the voice of your audience and adopt this in everything you do.
Keep it simple
One of the most common mistakes in branding, is to put too much into it. It’s far more effective to tell a simple story so as not to confuse or distract your audience. If you bombard them, you risk losing their attention. Think space, clarity and simplicity.
Be open, honest, and transparent. Let your personality shine through. The key to this is consistency. You must see your business as a real living thing, with unfailing thoughts and feelings – that all content creators understand and share.
Four ‘do gooders’
Notice the way these organisations use brand language, visual identity and content to convey their story in an authentic, organic way. Riverford uses hand drawn type and loose watercolour illustrations to convey an organic, down to earth vibe. All their communications are written in the informal voice of Founder, Guy Singh-Watson.
Simplicity is key for Dorset Cereals’ visual style. Distinctive, playful typewriter font is used throughout packaging and website to ensure consistency.
Bird and Wild is another brand that uses hand drawn lettering and a loose watercolour illustration style. It humanises the brand and makes it feel honest, open and natural.
Cook uses a neutral colour scheme paired with hand drawn fonts. A friendly tone of voice gives this brand a warm, personal feel.
Putting it into practice
Do we practice what we preach, here at Hybrid Studio? We hope so. We try to be genuine – when we write, when we design, when we speak to people. We don’t claim to be perfect. We’re trying. We give to Unicef, we buy local and organic where we can, we use our skills to help others. We work with organisations we believe in. We keep chickens. We rescued a cat. We are kind to strangers. It’s real. It’s us. It’s in everything we do.