All solar brands have a story. For startups, the story may revolve around the core of why the founder started the business in the first place. The founder saw a problem and wanted to fix it. Or, the founder felt they could fix a problem in a new and innovative way. For longer-term businesses, they may have grown beyond the founders’ original scope and evolved into a new model, expanded to a new vision.
Why tell your solar brand story? Simple: with few exceptions, we are all wired to remember stories over a list of facts. Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner has written that we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story (Sources: Forbes and Jerome Bruner, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds).
Whatever your brand story is, I have a question: when you tell it, who is the champion of that story? When you tell that story is your brand the hero on a white horse that swoops in to save the day? It’s a great vision, isn’t it? Or — add appropriate musical track here — is it?
Who should be the champion of your story then? Your customer. This is not the same as saying the customer is always right. But, when you make your customer the champion of your story, you move beyond your core solar offering into the role of a trusted advisor. And you draw your potential customer into the story, engaging them in imagining themselves using your brand.
Let’s look at the structure of good stories. A champion faces a problem or conflict, finds a trusted mentor that helps them see a way out – a goal, and with that help, the champion either solves the problem/conflict or grows from it. Think Yoda and Luke Skywalker, Dumbledore and Harry Potter, Haymitch Abernathy and Katniss Everdeen, Gandolf and Bilbo.
If we look at this from a business perspective, your potential customer has a pain point – the problem. Your brand, as the trusted advisor shows them a path to fix this pain, and ultimately the customer is the champion who took this action. Your solar brand has won over that customer in a way that trying to sell them a widget never would. You’ve made them part of the story.
I love examples, because … examples are stories. The following brand and product are fake.
Solar inverter manufacturer, Wheee Energy sells inverters designed for harsh climates. They are beginning promotion on a new product. The inverter’s claim is that all of it’s published specs are tested at -40°C and 87°C, making it a good choice for harsh climates.
Their first attempt at copy:
Our new Wheee XL inverter is designed for harsh climates. Our published specs show results when tested at -40°C and 87°C. So, you know it’ll work in extreme environments. It even comes with a 20-year warranty.
All factually true, and compelling if you’re looking for an inverter right when you read this that needs to work in harsh climates. But, will you remember those stats in a month or year? Wheee’s inverter is the champion of the story and the reader is merely reading the above. They’re not drawn into mentally participating.
Let’s tell a story now:
Jacob, a solar contractor, was worried. A former customer was building a new house in Furnace Creek, California, where the customer could live out their dream of studying desert tortoises. They asked Jacob to install solar on the new house. Jacob was worried about the extreme heat in Death Valley. He wanted his customer to be as happy with his new PV system as he was with his first. But the extreme temperatures were going to play havoc with the equipment. Jacob did some research and ran across the Wheee XL inverter. Jacob was impressed that the Wheee XL’s claims at being an extreme temperature inverter were substantiated in their testing and specs. On talking with a Wheee Energy rep, and finding out about their 20-year warranty, Jacob ordered one from his distributor. After installing the system, Jacob is happy he found a solution, and that he helped his customer avoid the costly maintenance of a lower-temp-rated inverter. Most importantly, Jacob’s customer is thrilled with the new PV system.
That’s the story. The story, while longer, does something the first copy does not. It:
- Places their key target audience in the center of the tale, allowing their audience to imagine themselves in the role. By the end, they are imagining themselves buying Wheee’s products.
- It makes their customer the champion. Although, Wheee’s product was the solution, their customer was the one who solved the problem of the story. We all want to be champions in our stories.
- It gave a story that readers could tell with ease, without having to remember specific specifications.
Once the pieces of the story are determined, and the tale is told, the next to last step is turning it into copy:
Jacob’s dedication to his solar customers led him to Wheee Energy when extreme temperatures came into play on a new installation. Jacob’s customer is happy in his new solar-powered Death Valley home, knowing Jacob helped him save money on maintenance costs by going with the new Wheee XL Inverter, engineered to work in severe temperatures.
And the last step isn’t really the last step, but should be interwoven throughout your story process. Pair this story with strong, impactful, on point visuals. A picture does tell 1000 words and will lend emotion, depth, and visual tidbits to your story that words alone don’t. It may not be a picture. It may be video, illustration, VR, tactile experiences. Whatever the visual, ensure it enhances the story.
By creating a journey that your key potential customers can place themselves into, you will be much closer to creating lasting impact that will turn potential customer into solar customer and ultimately brand champion.
Want to create your solar story in an impactful way? Contact the Corbae team to help lead your brand through the process.