Brand storytelling is becoming increasingly prevalent and popular as brands recognize the fact that customers want to connect with them on a more personal level rather than be blatantly sold to.
Storytelling works because we are genetically wired to respond on an emotional level to stories. Stories grab our attention, are an effective way of making us remember information, make us feel something, and connect us with characters. They are powerful, and being able to tell an irresistible brand story can add power to your brand, too.
But how do you do that? How do you find and tell your own brand story? How do you make it authentic and compelling, and how do you tell it in such a way that it creates trust amongst your audience?
What is a brand story?
Briefly, a brand story is a narrative that combines details about your brand and your products or services while evoking emotion in your audience. It may tell the tale of how your company first came about, and how that resonates with your brand today or it can show how your brand makes a difference in the world. There’s not a singular right way to tell brand stories, but the most effective brand stories are authentic, honest, and connect with your audience. They make them feel empathy and loyalty towards your brand and ultimately drive growth.
How to tell a brand story in two simple steps
These steps might sound simple as you read them here, but crafting a truly irresistible brand story takes time, care, and expertise.
- Create conflict – the greatest stories are about overcoming challenges. Think anything from Harry Potter and Pride & Prejudice to The Da Vinci Code and Cinderella. Conflict adds drama and emotion, and without it there’s nothing to relate to. However, for a brand to present a problem or conflict to their audience often requires a leap of faith. It almost goes against current business logic to show signs of weakness or even failure, and there’s a fear that by showing this to the world, customers may be put off. Not so. We all know that no one (and no brand) is perfect – and those imperfections make us all the more real and relatable. Overcoming adversity is a story we can all connect with – and the more honest you are, the more your audience will respect you.
- Resolve conflict – when the conflict has reared its head and threatened your brand, you need to tell the story of how you resolved that conflict and either got back to the way things were or changed your brand for the better. You found a solution, and your audience is relieved!
Top tips for telling your brand story
- Show your personality – Forbes says that, “Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.” Personality drives your story forward, keeps it fast-paced and interesting, and gives your audience a character they recognize and can connect with through adversity into resolution and success. It’s also true that people trust people, and a character that can create a connection will give your audience a champion they will cheer for.
- Know your audience – In order for you to write with the right personality, you firstly need to know your audience. The more intimately you know them, the better. If you don’t already have them, try creating your brand’s buyer personas, speak to existing customers, or send out surveys to better understand who they are, what they want, and what they connect to. The main question you need an answer to is how your brand can solve a problem your audience has.
- Keep it simple – we outlined this above, but it’s important to stick to the conflict > resolution > success outline – or the beginning, middle, and end as we were all taught in school. Your audience will expect this, and making your story too complex will confuse them and turn them away. Note though that the end shouldn’t be “that’s it, it’s all over”, but a chance for you to show how you’re going to use your success to drive your brand forward into the future. Which leads us nicely on to…
- Leave something unsaid – You don’t want to tell your whole story. It’s important not to give everything away and to leave your audience wanting more so they keep coming back. One way to do this is by creating stories that lead on from one another. You can also leave a “watch this space” style cliffhanger and by running teasers for your stories to pique interest and curiosity.
- Connect with your customers – While you’re telling your brand story, the ultimate goal isn’t for the audience to simply understand how you came about. It’s to create a connection, to give your audience something to relate to, and to pave the way for building trust and loyalty amongst your audience. That way, you’re getting your customers to buy into you and your story, and not just buying your products or service.
- Be authentic – Your audience will know if you’re faking it and they’ll therefore be less likely to buy from you. A real story, one that only you can tell because it’s from your brand’s experience, will resonate much more effectively. Honesty and transparency are qualities that people really buy into.
One of the main reasons to tell your brand story is that it gives you control over what that story is. As branding guru David Brier says, “If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.”
And this story can live on – you’ll always have your origin story of overcoming adversity and finding the path to success, but it doesn’t stop there. You can keep telling your brand’s story over time, and by doing so maintain that connection with your audience.
A final thought: while your brand story can connect with your audience and build their trust in you, this has to be supported by everything else you do, from your other marketing activities to sales and customer service.
Make sure your business stands out – read our brand guide for more branding advice or contact us to chat about brand development