The results of recent consumer choice experimentation conducted by advertising agency Hill Holiday confirms the rising tide of grassroots data about brand storytelling – products and services that have a story are worth more to consumers than those without.

The research in question looks specifically at four consumer purchase options: hotel studies, works of art, wine and items listed for sale on eBay. In every instance, those items backed up by some sort of personal testimonial had a greater perceived value in the minds of consumers. For example, works of art that included a brief personal story about the artist were deemed 11% more valuable. Similarly, items listed on eBay that included brief descriptions (rather than just pictures) attracted 64% higher bids.

There is a direct application here for banks and credit unions and their brands. Namely — your brand is worth a lot more to consumers if you take the time to tell its story. This is not necessarily the story of your brand as detailed in messaging like vision, mission and tagline statements (although these are important). Rather, the story here must be about your consumers and how they benefit from interacting with your financial institution.

Application Point: You can have the best-looking collateral marketing material in the world but without compelling brand storytelling it’s not worth the paper on which it’s printed. In order to make your brand pop, you have to tell its story. It’s terrific you have low rates on loans and a variety of checking account options. But have you ever taken time to listen to your consumers and learn how they benefit from these products and services? More importantly — do you then relate these first-person consumer testimonials about your products and services in your brand and marketing?

Let’s say you have a lobby poster featuring a consumer standing beside a new truck he just purchased. He got a great low rate. Extended payment terms. Skip-a-pay option once a year. Loan insurance. Terrific. Now, tell the real story. Give a brief bio of the member; why he needed the truck, how he uses it in his business, how it has impacted his personal and financial growth. These are the key points that consumers relate to. Rates are important. Dreams and providing for your family target the heartstrings and are the real essence of your brand story.

If a brief review of a hotel room from someone who actually stayed there increases perceived value by up to 5% (as related by the above-mentioned consumer study), it makes sense for your bank or credit union to tell the story of the people that actually use your products and services. Brand storytelling, in essence, drives up the perceived value of your bank or credit union.

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