What is a brand story and why should I use it?
Storytelling is a powerful tool in our daily lives: just think about the last time you caught up with a friend, tried to explain a challenging concept, or made a presentation to your team. The facts are essential, but the narrative around them is what makes it memorable. An impactful story will stick with you for years and remind you of that emotional reaction you had the first time you heard it.
Brand storytelling is a crucial marketing strategy that ties your business values, purpose, and/or mission with an emotional or powerful story to share with your audience. The goal of a brand story is to connect with your audience, creating a message that sticks with them and makes them feel inspired. A brand story will help your business increase brand awareness, earn customer loyalty, make your brand stand out from the competition, and ultimately push customer acquisition and expedited sales. Compelling storytelling strengthens the connection with your customer by increasing engagement, organic sharing, and conversion.
Here are some examples of brand and business-focused storylines:
- Brand story: Tell the story of your brand, the reason for being, or the evolution of the business (Example: Warby Parker's How Our Glasses are Made video)
- Founder’s story: Showcase your founder’s journey
- Origin story: Tell how your brand came to be
- Brand values story: Share what your brand stands for
- People story: Spotlight the people behind the brand
- Mission story: Tell a story about the mission of your brand (Example: #LikeAGirl Campaign by Always)
- Vision story: Share a story about your vision of the future
- Industry story: Explain how your brand fits into and stand in its industry
- Community story: Create content around how you help the community
- Spotlight story: Spotlight a recent happening that ties into your brand’s core values (Example: Even during a global pandemic, Nike releases this inspiring “You Can’t Stop Us” video.)
- Event story: Tell stories about events you are attending or already attended
Some of the best brand storytellers are companies like Nike, Google, and Volkswagen. They take their powerful brand message and pair it with an encouraging story of hope, dreams, or inspiration. A great brand story will build and sustain long-term relationships with customers committed to you and the service and feeling you provide them.
“... brand story is a cohesive narrative that encompasses the facts and feelings that are created by your brand.”
- Column Five Media
How to develop your brand story
Unlike typical advertising and the goal to push a direct call to action, a brand story is for thinking with a creative and imaginative mind. Your brand story needs to be entertaining, motivating, and educational while aiming to leave viewers inspired by your brand, not pushed for a product.
Here are a few steps for developing and brainstorming your brand story:
- Step 1: Define your brand heart and personality. Identify your core principles or values of the business by defining the brand’s purpose, vision, mission, values. When you better understand the brand’s ‘why,’ it is easier to find the storylines related to your values. This knowledge keeps your messaging aligned with the overall brand as you pull from those ideologies. For the company, ask your team, partners, and yourself:
- What are we trying to achieve?
- What’s important to us?
- What narratives are driving our mission?
- Step 2: Maintain consistent and relatable messaging throughout your brand. Your business must create consistent content and messages that speak to those core values. Nailing your brand messaging will make it easier to create authentic stories about the company and your products and services. And remember, brand storytelling has a call to action, but it’s more indirect than traditional advertising and does not need to push the product or service on the customer.
- Step 3: Brainstorm with a vision in mind. As you begin collecting ideas for your brand story, it may be helpful to have a clear vision of what you want to portray or express about the brand.
- Who are you?
- Why do you do what you do?
- What are you trying to convey?
- Why is it important?
- What are your future goals?
- Step 4: Remember your audience and act human. Ensure the stories and values you’re portraying seem authentic and align with your target audience. Your customers are looking for products and companies that they relate to. The best way to build customers’ trust and make an impact is by understanding and speaking directly to them.
While your brand story is about you, it isn’t really about you. Your brand story is a tool that helps your target customer understand how your product will solve their pain points and add value to their life.
“Brand stories are...innovative advertising where you can actually do without describing your brand and instead emphasize customer experience, convenience as well as shared values and principles.”
- Step 5: Pair down the story ideas with questions like:
- Why do I want to tell this story?
- How does this make us unique?
- What pain point or value am I giving to my audience?
- What will people take away from this story?
- Are there multiple stories to tell that portray a single value?
It is important to stay honest and aligned with your audience and business model in this last vetting process. As you are pairing down ideas, remember that authenticity and building trust with customers is the best way to increase reach and conversions.
"… businesses need to start sharing the story behind their brand, why it exists, and why this matters, consistently across all communication."
How to implement your brand story
After you’ve vetted the brand story ideas, there are multiple ways to implement the story into your marketing. With numerous marketing platforms and formats for sharing information, it’s vital at this stage to find the most effective way of communicating. Your story needs to be easily visible to your target audience and generate discussion.
- Step 1: Here are a few platforms and ways to market your brand story:
- Video or Animation Marketing - Using video as your medium is an effective way to communicate your brand story. It is one of the more popular approaches, as you’ll see from Superbowl commercials and inspirational videos on social media.
- Social Media is the best place to promote and share your brand story video. All social platforms support video and can be shared repeatedly for low-cost ads or for free.
- Commercial advertisements
- Add the video to your landing page or website.
- Voice Marketing - Sharing your story via voice over the radio or on social media can be another great way to reach your target audience effectively.
- Infographics, Photos, & Slideshows - An infographic to share a story might seem a bit strange, but it can be an excellent way to share your message in small, bite-sized, and to-the-point ways. (Example: Ben and Jerry’s has been a trailblazer in recent years, providing us with educational infographics that share their values and mission for the future.)
- Articles/Blogs - A written story may be a less effective way of sharing your brand story, depending on the audience. However, it can be a more meaningful way to communicate, especially if sent by email or shared on your website.
- Influencer Marketing - If you find or hire an influencer to share your brand, this gives you a wide range of followers and the ability to control the narrative through the influencer.
- Other examples include:
- Case Studies
- Data visualizations
- Step 2 - Decide on the narrative. Now that you know what platform to share your story on, it’s time to nail down the narrative.
- Who is speaking?
- How will they tell your story?
- What kind of structure, resolution, or climax is needed?
- Step 3 - Personalize the story with your company’s visuals, tone, and personality, and start sharing! Whether it’s social media, a digital campaign, or a new radio spot, start sharing your story to inspire and reach your audience.
How to expand your brand story
The most compelling brand stories showcase your brand’s unique personality and simultaneously strengthen your purpose as a company. With a genuine, well-crafted narrative, you can leverage your story to stand apart from the competition, improve your bottom line, and build a legacy brand that resonates with an ever-growing, loyal customer base.
If you need some assistance or don’t have the time to develop a brand story, we can help. Margo provides direct support from marketing experts to make your life easier by providing you the tools, guidance, and resources to reach your marketing goals.