Branding
Posted by John Smulo

Brand Storytelling 102: Finding Your Characters

Great characters drive great stories. In brand storytelling, characters personify a brand’s values, personality, and purpose. What makes brand characters different from fictional characters is that they don’t live between pages of paper. They are expressed in a brand’s content strategy like videos, blog posts, social media pages, etc. They help build connections with customers by conveying positive qualities. Here are what brand characters should be:

● Likeable
● Interesting
● Entertaining
● Relatable
● Inspiring

Brand characters can be anyone or anything that you believe best represents your brand like your business’s founder, customers, an extraordinary person, or a product that symbolizes your brand’s values.

Brand Example: Dollar Shave Club

The Dollar Shave Club delivers razors and other male grooming products to its subscription members every month starting at one dollar. To promote their brand they used their founder and CEO, Michael Dubin, to be the brand character and narrator of their hilarious YouTube videos. Michael first showed his amazing comedic skills in Dollar Shave Club’s premier video, “Our Blades are F***ing Great.” The video became a massive hit with over 21 million views! The video became the recipient of many online video awards and after the video was released, they received about 12,000 orders in two days.

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Brand Example: Frank Body

Frank Body is a coffee-based skincare line that treats body imperfections like acne, scarring, and stretch marks, but their mostly known for their body coffee scrub. To raise brand awareness, the founders decided to use their customers or “frankfurts” as brand characters in their narrative. They utilized Instagram by posting user generated content to show product popularity and fun user application. If you look at their Instagram page, you’ll see that it’s full of attractive and diverse people that proudly wear the scrub on their face and body. This year the business’s sales are expected to exceed over $20 Million!

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Brand Example: Gatorade

Gatorade released a video campaign called Win from Within. The stars of these videos are young athletes who are either living under extraordinary circumstances or have a body impairments like being permanently in a wheelchair. One of the athletes was a beautiful softball player named Jaide Bucher. What’s unique about her? She was born with one arm! Even though she has one arm, she’s one of the best athletes at her school. Jaide is Gatorade’s brand character because she embodies the brand’s values: confidence, ambition, dedication, and the deep love of sports.

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Brand Example: TOMS

TOMS products are not real people but they are still in my opinion brand characters because they embody the fashion brand’s purpose: to help people all around the world. TOMS’s brand motto is one for one. Every time their products -shoes, eyewear, coffee, handbags- are sold, they give free shoes, eye exams, water, and training for childbirth and anti-bullying to people in need. If their brand purpose was not engraved into their products, than how else will they motivate others to help disenfranchised societies? Their products drive their stories and people’s need to better the world.

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Find Your Brand Characters

When looking to create or find brand characters, you must make sure they easily express your brand’s purpose or values in the content you plan to create. When you find your characters use them in your videos, or social media pages so your audience can see them. Hopefully, when they see them they will become interested in what you are selling and more willing to build a relationship with you.

Questions to Ask Yourself:

1. Who or what best illustrates my brand and its values?
2. Am I or another founder/employee interesting enough to represent our brand and attract customers?
3. Can I use customers and their user generated content to promote my brand?
4. Does my product have a purpose or a story of its own that can attract customers?
5. Is there an outsider I can use as a spokesperson or public representative of my brand?

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