Reinforcer or supporter? Which brand storytelling persona are you?

Oct 08, 2015
Reinforcer or supporter? Which brand storytelling persona are you?

Do you see the world through rose colored glasses? Or blue? Or green? Or…..

As communicators our role is to understand the “color” of the glasses our target consumers look through. Until we understand this, we can’t clearly develop an effective communications plan—one which produces a message that resonates with consumers directly, encourages them to pay attention to your brand and your content, and eventually compels a purchase decision.

Stories Shape Our World

These different colored lenses through which our consumers see the world around them are their frames. For this reason framing is a very important part of effective communications. Our understanding of them must drive the brand storytelling strategy we create and the messaging we consistently push forward.

Frames are made up of a combination of experiences, environment, culture and beliefs, and current situations.

No one person sees the world in the same way, but there are similarities among many different groups of consumers. In order to craft an solid communications strategy, you must first understand the frame your target audience looks through.

A few months ago on Spin Sucks I discussed three approaches brands could take for effective brand storytelling—or in essence, to tell stories through the right frames. Frames which motivate action among their target consumers.

We received a lot of questions after that post about the three different brand storytelling buckets I outlined: Reinforcer, supporter and challenger. Today I want to dig deeper into the firs two—reinforcer and supporter. Challenger brands are much more difficult to pull off well and will be covered in a follow-up post all to their own.

Brand Storytelling as a ReInforcer

Do you have that one friend who thinks just like you? You all are super close because he or she just understands the way you think and you have similar perspectives on life. They will back you up in any situation and help further reinforce the tendencies you have—both good and bad.

If this friend was a brand, he would be your reinforcer. In brand storytelling these brands tell stories which reinforce their audience’s world view. This instantly develops a feeling of trust, and also helps the consumer feel closer to the brand.

This messaging strategy works well for highly niche-focused brands who very, very clearly understand their consumers needs, wants, and pain-points.

Pros of being a reinforcer brand:

  • Consumer trust

  • Stories resonate

  • Ease of community building

  • Consumer can be extremely well targeted

  • Strategy can be streamlined because most qualified leads will consume information in similar ways

Cons of being a reinforcer brand:

  • Conversion from community member to buyer is often difficult: Often consumers simply enjoy being part of your community but need to be presented with clear calls to action to convert. Reinforcer brands often make the mistake of not doing this.

  • You will alienate many consumers: Because a reinforcer brand is highly niche and targeted, you will turn away some consumers who might not be your exact target, but still could potentially be buyers.

Brand Storytelling as a Supporter

Supporter brands are your cheerleaders. They help reinforce change. Brand storytelling for supporter brands push forward behavior change—whether that be as simple as product change or as detailed as lifestyle change. The supporter approach works well for new concepts and innovations, as well as anything which challenges and empowers consumers to improve or modify behaviors.

Pros of being a supporter brand:

  • Stories are empowering: Empowering and inspirational stories work well for these brands, and are wonderfully sticky and sharable.

  • New and shiny: Supporter brands present products or services which are new and shiny (even if they really aren’t, the messaging presents them this way). Which people like (especially those in your target audience) and naturally gravitate too.

  • The target market often defines themselves: Some people are ready for change, some aren’t. Supporter brand storytelling attracts the right people to you.

Cons of being a supporter brand:

  • Resistance to change: While the idea of change can be exciting, actually doing it can be overwhelming and human nature is resistant to change. Conversion to leads might be easy, but conversion to sales extremely difficult. Buyers will also have a tendency to not follow through or continue. Supporter brands must have a very effective lead nurturing strategy, which continues after the sale to prevent both of these circumstances.

  • Difficulty with emotional messaging: Messaging must be challenging and persuasive, while comforting, supportive, and educational. This can often be a very fine line to walk and organizations must be very clear and consistent on brand voice and messaging with all team member and consumer touch points.

What Type of Brand Storytelling Works Best for You?

Your organization might fall clearly into one of these buckets or you might slightly overlap on some perspectives. The goal is to be clear on your goal and how the approach chosen affect your target consumer (and the frame they see you and the world through).

Brand storytelling is only effective when it motivates something inside the consumer which makes them want to take action of some sort. As communicators our goal is to figure out the approach which works best to motivate that action and encourage our consumers to join our story.

Which approach best aligns with your current messaging? (And if you are a challenger…stay tuned).

Laura Petrolino is director or operations for Arment Dietrich, a integrated communications firm, as well as their award winning PR and communications blog Spin Sucks. Connect with her on Twitter @lkpetrolino

Photo: Vintage book via Shutterstock

About the author

Chief Client Officer at Arment Dietrich and @SpinSucks. Outdoor Adventurer. Bodybuilder. Superhero Trainee. #FitFluential Ambassador

Signup for the Muck Rack Daily email

A digest of journalism, written by journalists, delivered to your inbox daily.