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Why Brands Tell Stories, Not Specifics

Updated: Oct 25, 2020

It’s a funny feeling. That feeling of buying something you know you don’t need. It’s something you want, you desire and you can’t get out of your head. You just want.

So, you go and buy it. The excitement is real.

Okay, so you’ve bought this thing. You could have gotten a cheaper alternative or not bought it at all. But you did buy it. You know there’s a myriad of reasons why you shouldn’t, but there’s also the reasons you built up inside to lead you to the purchase decision.

But, only you know those reasons. And, one of the main reasons is probably because you think it looks cool, or is a silent symbol of social status. Even if you haven’t overtly told yourself so.

Now, your initial post-purchase moment is coming to an end. You’ve enjoyed your new, expensive product for yourself. But, you want to show it to people. Or, you want to take it outside of your home for the first time.

You know your friends will look at it and you know that you’ll want to show it to them. In either case, you’re going to need to explain to them why you bought it. Why exactly did you spend more money than you needed to, for a product which solves a need that you could have cured for a more cost-effective price?

You can’t tell them that you bought it because you wanted it as a show of social status. That wouldn’t work.

So, you look for other reasons why you’ve bought this product. You need to tell your friends, colleagues and acquaintances something, after all. But, what do you say? You will probably craft a story. Maybe your story will hold up, or maybe it will have holes. In any case, a story / justification must be told. Maybe you could use some help in telling it …

Enter, the brand that sold it to you. Have a look at their landing page for their product. In almost all cases (that work), they’ve crafted a story for you to on-tell (or ‘on sell’). Something easy for you to pick up, grasp and apply to yourself. The best brands do this with a swathe of features and benefits which can be lightly related to almost anyone.

The one brand that has mastered this above all others? Apple.

Apple doesn’t tell you that they’ve now got 24nm architecture chips in their iPhones, they tell you that they load graphics up to ten times faster. Oh, look here! — you’ve now got a reason you bought it — “I just couldn’t stand waiting for Google Maps to load again.”

Apple’s iPhone has a new camera…again. But they’ve already run a global advertising campaign showing off images that were “Shot with iPhone” and were supposedly good enough for billboards. If the iPhone’s photos were good enough for billboards a few years back, then why would a simpleton like me need a phone with a camera even better than that? Because now it has portrait mode.

And now I can make an Animoji that matches my facial movements to those of an emoji. My golly — “I need to be able to take photos for my Instagram page in portrait with blurred backgrounds.”

The best brands tell stories, not specifics. Specifics are confusing to the layman. Stories are understood by all.


Hedgehog is run by Josh. Josh helps small businesses to sell more online with detailed advice, planning and management. Learn more here.

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