Narrative Identity: Does Your Brand Play a Role in Your Consumers’ Life Story?
If they a made a movie about your consumer, what role would your brand play?
Hero? Trusted sidekick? Mentor? Villain? Would your brand even have a speaking part? Or would it be an extra? You know, “Man in crowd #3 played by your brand”.
We all have life stories that we create and tell ourselves to give meaning to our life experiences. We use these stories to construct our sense of self.
Psychologists call this narrative identity.
We write and rewrite this story in our heads daily, editing our memories, our day-to-day experiences and our aspirations into a story that makes sense. We try to weave together our past, present and future identities – who we were, who we are now, and who we want to be – into a coherent story that gives our lives purpose and helps us make sense of our personal journey.
The most meaningful brands are those that play a role in this story.
Think about the brands that matter most to you. What role do they play in your story? How do you use them to help you create your narrative identity?
There are brands that help us create our aspirational self… the person we want to become.
There are brands that help us create a favorable story of who we once were… brands that trigger a sense of nostalgia; that represent our core values and beliefs; that we use to demonstrate to ourselves and others where we came from.
And there are brands that we use every day to tell the story of who we are now.
Maker’s Mark® Bourbon is such a brand for me. It is a character actor in the story of my life. When I was a young man, Maker’s – a premium bourbon – symbolized my maturity and aspirations. Today, the brand is a symbol of my roots as a Kentuckian. And, through its loyalty program, Maker’s makes me feel like I have a special, insider relationship with the brand. Part of my identity is being a Maker’s Mark drinker.
Brands don’t always play such positive roles in our stories. There are brands that represent who we are not…brands that represent values and beliefs that are the antithesis of our narrative identity. These are the antagonists in our story…the villains. We use them to sharpen the edges around who we are and who we are not.
So ask yourself, what role does your brand play? Does it even have a role?
One thing is certain. If you don’t know what your consumers’ life story is all about, there’s little chance your brand will play a meaningful role in it. There are a psychology-based market research techniques that will help you become more attuned to your consumer’s narrative identity and what role, if any, your brand plays in it.
Including such techniques in your market research plan will give you a deeper sense of how your customers use your brand to write the story of their lives.
Thanks for reading. What are you thoughts?