For brands to shift from functional to favourite, a brand story is essential. That cohesive narrative that runs through all communications, creates depth and empathy. A reason for us to invest and believe in that brand.
What makes a brilliant brand story? As part of our ‘Red Setter Selects’ series, we asked our team to share the brand stories that have caught their eye. The brand narratives that are intrinsic to their DNA (Levi and Ikea), to clever brand stories that have changed the status quo (Dove).
Carrie – Levi Strauss & Co “The Greatest Story Ever Worn”
“Levi Strauss & Co is celebrating 150 years since the launch of its iconic 501s in 2023. To mark this anniversary, it has launched a new campaign which includes a series of films drawing on real stories of people’s relationships with their 501’s, called “The Greatest Story Ever Worn”.
“So, when we started talking about brands that tell a story – Levi’s was an obvious choice. Unlike fast-fashion, Levi’s prides itself in longevity, it celebrates wear and tear. Levi’s jeans are often passed down through families and friends, sold in thrift stores, charity shops and on market stalls – and it doesn’t diminish their value.
“And there’s no age limit with Levi’s, it’s genuinely a brand that everyone can wear and feel confident in. My mum had a pair of Levi’s, I have one, and if I have a child, they’ll probably have one too!”
Ellie - Easyjet x Spotify – Listen and Book
“Music truly does bring our own personal stories to life and maybe it’s because I live for catching nostalgic songs played on repeat from a recent trip abroad in my playlists, but that’s why I was a sucker for the symbiotic Easyjet and Spotify’s collaboration campaign.
“In the summer of 2022 easyJet bolstered their consumer experience through partnering with Spotify to create a brand identity tailored to everyone’s own story and personality through linking each traveller to their top destinations based on their listening behaviour.
“When brainstorming a brand with a strong story-telling ability I thought back to when I stumbled across this campaign a few months ago and felt it was the perfect example of a brand using their customers own identities to story tell through the unique medium of music. This is completely distinctive to any other form of brand storytelling I’ve seen based on its interactive element. Following their expert advice linked to my personality I should be jetting off to Barcelona to a soon!”
Vicky - IKEA
“Who even are you, if you didn’t furnish your first home without at least one item from IKEA? A trip to IKEA is not just about shopping. In store, the power of storytelling is unique. Every product tells a story, with a focus on bringing joy and enhancing the family experience.
“IKEA’s brand strength is the clarity of storytelling that it uses in every form of communication: visually in the catalogue, tangibly in the shop or emotionally in the TV campaigns. I can usually spot an IKEA ad a mile off. There’s a joy that IKEA seems to have grabbed, taking a mundane product, and making it fun and desirable (the Simpsons and Stranger Things ads took this to another level, with IKEA asserting its everyday relevance); all backed up with the continual narrative of IKEA helping to make a home and helping you to love where you live. I have some IKEA pieces that I truly love and will be part of my home forever.”
Sarah – Deliciously Ella
“The first is Deliciously Ella. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, you can’t argue with what a strong brand story plant-based wellness brand Deliciously Ella has! It came out of Ella Mill’s symptoms of Postural Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) a condition that she found was aided by eating a whole foods diet. While it’s important to acknowledge diet isn’t medicine for everyone and cannot cure all ailments, it is impressive how Ella Mills turned her personal health story into a global brand.
“What originally began as amateur plant-based recipes on a personal blog in 2012 (just before the plant-based boom) is now a range of products, a podcast, a restaurant, a line of snacks in the major grocers like Waitrose and Tesco, and a multi-million-pound empire. From its aesthetic to its message, it shows how valuable personal stories of vulnerability are when it comes to brand success, because it’s Ella’s formative experience overcoming illness that drew in the audience, and from there its grown and grown.”
Lily - Dove
“For me, one brand created purpose masterfully and has reached iconic status – DOVE!
‘…the home of real beauty. For over a decade, we've been working to make beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, and here's where the journey continues.’
“It all started 17 years ago with a market study of 3,000+ women from 10 different countries on how they perceived beauty. What was framed as an attempt to rejuvenate the brand then unexpectedly led to a complete shift in its brand messaging. They found that fewer than 5% of women considered themselves beautiful, resulting in the launch of the “Campaign for Real Beauty.” The goal was to make a fundamental change in the way that women viewed themselves.
“Since then, dove has tackled self-esteem and selfie editing apps, discrimination against black hair and the harms of social media. Dove tells the story of changing beauty standards. It’s backed by solid research into fundamental attitudes and insecurities of women and communicated with captivating storytelling centred around cultural shifts in society.”
Sarah – By Sarah London
“Another one I’ve chosen! By Sarah is an organic skincare brand based in London and endorsed by Deliciously Ella. Sarah first developed natural skincare to restore and repair her sister Lauren’s sensitive, fragile skin when she was recovering from an aggressive form of leukaemia, with only a 20% chance of survival. After a life-saving stem cell transplant from Sarah, the sisters teamed up to launch By Sarah London with the purpose of transforming emotional wellbeing for sensitive, stressed skin. It’s also committed to sustainability.
“Lauren discussed her experience recovering from cancer in an interview with Vogue – and it’s another example of rich personal stories translating to successful brands. I’m not a skincare geek, but after listening to Lauren on the Deliciously Ella podcast, I found myself ordering some products as I was so taken in by the brand story.”