From Brand Strategy to Storytelling
There are no new stories. There are only new ways of making them be felt.
In storytelling, the characters have to feel real to the reader. Their reactions need to be believable. One-dimensional characters placed into contrived situations make for an uninspiring experience.
The metaphor of the heroic journey has become cliché in B2B marketing, offering a lens through which to define the customer experience. But in the case of Standard Process customers, it was not just a metaphor — it was a true story.
Case in point: Standard Process.
Standard Process engaged Pure Branding for a comprehensive strategic consulting, including Brand Opportunity, Brand Strategy, RealPersona™ Market Research, Visual Strategy, Content Strategy, Practitioner Channel Brand Engagement and Transparency Platform Development.
“During the opportunity phase, we conducted in-depth interviews with all of the executive leadership team, as well as interactive workshop exercises that explored company lore and history,” says Yadim Medore, Pure Branding founder and CEO. “We recognized themes in the company’s history, its commitments and how it conducts its business. A brand story began to emerge.”
But how would this story resonate with Standard Process customers, the tens of thousands of health care professionals who rely on the company for high-quality whole-food nutritional supplements?
We conducted RealPersona quantitative and qualitative research to learn more about their practitioner customers. We learned what motivated them to provide nutritional counseling and dispense supplements to their patients. Through the segmentation process, we also discovered which RealPersona segments were the most valuable to Standard Process and why.
A Hero’s Journey
The metaphor of the heroic journey has become cliché in B2B marketing these days, offering a lens through which to define the customer experience. But in the case of Standard Process customers, it was not just a metaphor — it was also a true story.
“The quantitative research helped us define the segments, but it was through the qualitative interviews that we discovered that many in the most valuable segments had experienced their own hero’s journey, and Standard Process had played a large role in helping them transform not only the lives of their patients but themselves as well,” remembers Peter Littell, Pure Branding’s marketing and research director.
A Tale of Two Brand Stories
The Standard Process brand narrative is really two stories — the first story’s protagonist is Standard Process itself, and the second story’s protagonist is the health care professional. These stories intersect at the moment when the protagonists meet for the first time. They are essential to each story moving forward.
Pure Branding wrote the narrative for both stories. The first was “Whole Food Nutrient Solutions: The Standard Process Brand Story.” It spoke to the heritage of Standard Process, from its visionary past to its current leadership position in the market. It concluded with its connection to health care professionals, and how by enabling practice transformation, the company could empower them to change lives.
The second story was “A Hero’s Journey: The Heroic Journey and Transformation of the Standard Process Practitioner.” This took the narrative structure of the archetypal 12 stages of the mythical hero’s journey and applied it to the story that many health care professionals experience firsthand. It positioned the groundbreaking work of Royal Lee and Standard Process as mentor to these practitioners on their journey and assured them that the company would always be there to support them.
“Developing the two stories helped provide a structured plotline for Standard Process,” says Peter. “It enabled the brand narrative to not just be about the company, but rather it showed how health care professionals are interconnected to Standard Process while celebrating the individual journeys of both the company and its customers.”
It was clear the stories resonated with customers and prospects, but to increase their reach and emphasize the emotional connection, they needed to be made into videos.
“One of the challenges of making a video to celebrate the health care professional is that you want them to identify with the story,” remarks Yadim. “They have to see themselves in the narrative. They need to be the protagonist. But making a live-action film about the heroic journey of a practitioner would be third-person, and we wanted the story to be first-person to foster an immediate connection. That’s why we determined that abstract animation was a great medium.”
The goal of the animated video was to present a simple message in just a few minutes: that we (Standard Process) recognize you (the health care professional), and we’re with you on your journey. The story was brought to life with simple, emotive typography and a custom musical composition.
The video premiered at a health care professional conference and the response was a standing ovation. Many practitioners later admitted to being brought to tears, feeling very much seen and understood for their true selves.
We knew that a documentary approach would be the right way to capture the real Standard Process. Thematically, we knew that empowering practitioners to change lives had to be the foundation. Everything filmed had to show how Standard Process is all about changing lives — the lives of those who work there, the lives of those who rely on the supplements and the earth as a whole.
“The key to a great documentary is partnering with a great director and crew to film and edit it,” says Yadim. “We knew what needed to happen, and the documentary crew knew how to realize it. From the first meetings we held with the film team and the marketing team at Standard Process, we knew it was going to be a wonderful collaboration.”
Eight working days were allocated to filming, spread out over eight months. Each day’s logistics were carefully planned, but once the cameras started to roll, real life at Standard Process revealed itself.
The editing process was ongoing, but after the filming was complete, the documentary took its final form in the editing rooms.
Changing Lives was previewed at a Standard Process national sales meeting to standing ovations. It was then premiered on Facebook in a live feed. Within a week of its premiere, it had more than 14,000 views, with a total of over 40,000 views to date. Comments were uniformly enthusiastic. A typical reaction by the health care professionals who watched it was, “I will enjoy sharing this video with others because of the mission, history and the fact that it is right on; because I have seen it in person and it is true! I feel so fortunate to be part of this amazing heritage!”
These two videos accomplished what we set out to do — to create an emotional attachment between brand and customer through authentic storytelling. And it all started with developing the right Brand Strategy.