Every brand wants to be “like Nando’s”.

Well, maybe not every brand, but definitely the ones whose CEO woke up and decided that they needed to emphasise their marketing. You know the ones. They want “tongue and cheek” which “speaks to the youth” and “is a bit edgy” but “doesn’t cause controversy” (a lot of inverted commas, we know, but bear with – this is going somewhere”).

We’re here to burst some bubbles.

Nando’s is not Nando’s because they advertise like Nando’s. They have the liberty of saying the things they do, and getting away with the jokes they make, as a result of long-term brand building and storytelling.

You see, marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you’re in it, you’re in it for the long-haul – and this is what many organisations fail to realise. Trust the process, follow the breadcrumbs, blah blah blah – we’ll skip the Hyperbole and cut straight to it.

Brand storytelling, done right, allows you to clearly define an identity. Once you crack the code, you’re golden. So, join us as we explain how it’s done:

Understand your Roots:

You know the saying – you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’re from. Not, that’s not a rallying cry to identify your motherland, but rather a suggestion to draw inspiration from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which has taught us, if anything, that 1. Spandex always sells and 2. Origin Stories are where the money is).

Before you can even begin the process of brand storytelling, you need to dive deep and unpack your roots. What’s your brand story? Do you have values which underpin your decisions? Go beyond the surface (i.e. more than “we were founded in” or “operational since 1842”) – dig deep and find the core of your identity.

Take that franchise we mentioned earlier. Theirs is a rich, multi-layered story steeped with cultural heritage and an entrenchment with the country of South Africa. In many ways, they ARE as intrinsic to our history as we are to them. To remove one is to do a disservice to the other, so deep have they become affiliated with our cultural history. THAT is a story and reputation worth holding on to. And it can’t be bought, faked, or imitated – it’s just authentic storytelling done right.

Embrace your roots, and let those elements permeate all aspects of your brand. Be authentic, be relatable, and be memorable.
Craft a Narrative

A compelling brand narrative isn’t just a list of facts. It’s a story with characters, challenges, and triumphs. Who are the heroes of your story? What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?

Your narrative should resonate with your audience on an emotional level. It should make them feel something – whether it’s excitement, inspiration, or a sense of belonging. This emotional connection is what transforms casual customers into loyal advocates.

Consistency is Key

Found your story? Great. Now keep it consistent.

Everything you do henceforth needs to be reflective of this. Every ad, every piece of content, every comment and customer interaction needs to stay true to the identify you’ve crafted.

Again, we refer to SA’s favorite chicken brand. Many outsiders (erroneously) assume that they just mindlessly throw out cheeky adverts. They couldn’t be more wrong. Every joke, jab, and social commentary aligns with their (already established) brand identity and persona. They didn’t wake up one morning and start choosing danger. The embraced the principles of consistency, trust, and familiarity – three pillars of strong brand building.

Engage, then Evolve:

Like anything in life (and especially marriage), engagement is a two-way street.

You see, sometimes it’s about more than simply broadcasting a story. If you want your audience to listen to you, it’s imperative that you do the same to them. This allows you to build trust, create an emotive connection, and evolve together rather than in isolation (which allows more room for forgiveness should you ever mess up down the line).

Social media has its drawbacks, but it’s also made it easier than ever to engage with customers in real time. Use these platforms not for pushing products, but rather as a means of continuing conversations, gathering feedback, and showing your audience that you value their input.

Remember, you don’t have to abandon your roots in order to evolve. Instead, you should aspire to adapt to ever-changing landscapes whilst remaining true to your core values. By adopting a dynamic approach, you’ll find you’re able to keep your brand fresh and relevant in the minds of consumers.

Play the Long Game:

Let’s wrap it up.

Successful brand storytelling is a long-term commitment.

Any commitment requires patience, consistency, and a deep understanding of your (clearly defined) brand identity. That’s not enough though. You need to also create a narrative which resonates, engages, and evolve as your audience dynamic does too.
So no pressure then.

We’ll leave this here: before you can be “like Nando’s” (or aspire to copy the final product of ANY other entity), remember the years of hard work and effort building up to their end result. Sometimes, it’s about more than just mimicking their marketing strategy. It’s about embracing your own story, making it authentic, and allowing the long game to play out.

That’s the true power of brand storytelling.

And, who knows, if you do it right, maybe one day someone could be writing this article with YOUR brand as an example.