A brand is a relationship, NOT a story

Marketeers often use the line ‘a brand is a story.’ It is almost never true, and such self-indulgence is too often a distraction. Average, and not so average, people have little time for a brand’s story. They are far too busy creating their own life, family, home, career, adventures et cetera. (Originally posted: March 3, 2017)

At best, a brand is a relationship. Sometimes an emotional relationship (positive or not), and hopefully a rational relationship (i.e. “I have a need for <insert product / service here> that delivers on promises / or at least has minimal disappointment”).

A brand needs to be visible and easily available to seed a relationship. Beyond visibility and easy availability, relevance and sincerity are critical.

Relevance is about where that product (or service) fits within a person’s life. Some products and services may have wide potential population relevance — e.g. banking, supermarkets and petrol. Others less so — e.g. nappies, niche arts experiences or aged care services. Much of the challenge for marketers is to maximise the size of the target market viewing the brand as personally relevant.

Sincerity is a perception of the ability of the brand to deliver on promises such as value, quality et cetera. This may be from previous experience, word-of-mouth and other forms of reputation creation.


The opportunity for brands is how to be relevant and sincere across a wide target market — e.g. through maximising visibility via digital and non-digital marketing and advertising. Yet, balancing this with fostering and building a relationship with core target market(s).

Such brands play a critical role in the lives of their core target market — e.g. Red Bull owns extreme sports enthusiasts through sponsorships, Red Bull TV etc; Apple allows easy integration of technology, music and the lives of users; the loved footy club makes supporters feel part of the team; or a group such as Vinomofo building a tribe of wine lovers through illustrating a passion for demystifying wine snobbery.

Such brands don’t tell their story. They elevate themselves beyond competitors by building relationships through being a bigger part of the lives (and perhaps stories) of their core target market.

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