Branding goes much deeper than pantone colours and typography, it is the emotional connection people have with a brand. Cue story-telling, this seems like a relatively new concept, but it has been around for centuries. Stories have captivated us since childhood, providing us with a sense of adventure, mystery and demonstrating lessons learned through journeys.
Marketing professionals share stories through blogs, adverts, print media and social platforms. ‘Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority.’
In a world where consumers are online 24/7, being exposed to brands before, during, and after work. Marketers need to do more to influence customer decisions, why pick one company over another? Do you relate to this company more? Are they providing local jobs? Solving a problem you can genuinely relate to?
‘Stories are continuously evolving and spontaneous iterations are frequent based on community memes, popular culture and events.’
How Will Story Telling Grow My Business?
Brand stories should be both emotional and intriguing, somewhat like the characteristics and personality of the company. These stories should be used to define what the company is all about, their culture, objectives, qualities and cares/causes.
‘So why is storytelling so compelling? Emotional connections such as these are almost impossible when talking on strict business terms. Often, we focus on logic and numbers, believing these are irrefutable points that can’t be ignored, yet we forget that emotional gut feeling we have that guides so many of our decisions’.
Consumer perceptions and feelings about your brand will influence their decision on whether or not to buy from you. When consumers feel a connection to your brand, somewhat like an emotional tie, the results are loyal return customers.
Storytelling is a continuous process, in that stories need to be constantly shared, showing consumers the timeline and growth of the business. Sharing stories of your growth as a business will increase customer retention, as they feel more involved, assured that their custom has helped you grow/expand. What is more engaging than a start-up success story, or the heritage of a brand that has been passed down in the same family for many years?
Your story telling must match your brand promises, this will instill trust and build the relationship. ‘Human-to-human connections are the heart and soul of business. At the end of the day, you’re dealing with people — your company is solving problems, alleviating pain points, and providing delightful customer experiences. Revenue is something that happens as a byproduct of a sound business model and a positive customer experience’.
Is My Story Worth Sharing?
Absolutely! Why not showcase your achievements, you may have started out with an idea, fostered it and grew it, you may have bought into a company? No matter how you/your business got to where you are now – there is a story behind it. A story of your motivation, persistence, entrepreneurial mindset, or creative mind will surely engage with users. ‘People relate to stories. They share in the joy and reward when the main characters finally achieve their goals’.
I believe content marketing should centre around storytelling, this approach will give life to your brand. Sharing the personality of your product/service will allow consumers to feel involved whilst experiencing your brand journey. ‘In order for consumers to form a personal connection with your brand, stories must be authentic, creative and inspirational’.
All good storytellers will centre their story around what the reader wants, tapping into their concerns and hopes for the future. Consumers love a good success story – showing how your brand has evolved. As your business grows, your objectives will change, you must share your future hopes and dreams to keep your audience inspired and engaged, showing how your brand is moving forward. ‘Just like a fairy tale, a captivating brand story must have three acts that set up the situation, 1. Chronicle 2. Conflict 3. Resolution’.
Your 5 Step Guide To Story-Telling
A good place to start crafting a brand story is by defining what your brand is. What story are you going to tell that encapsulates your brand? What goes into a good brand story? ‘Stories celebrate our culture, and stories are a testament to the lives we have led’.
Storytelling should be engaging, intriguing, and connect with the reader on an emotional level. Share some insights into how your idea was brought to life, your inspiration for creating the company, a gap you spotted in the market.
Below, I will outline some guidelines for crafting the perfect brand story. ‘Stories must be personal. Think about how your brand was born, what inspired you to create the company and what your personal mission is. But most of all think about what the needs of the ‘audience’ were when doing so’.
Your brand story should be consistent, coinciding with all future marketing efforts, reinforcing the culture and personality of your brand.
1. Once Upon A Time
Tell your story, sharing the very essence of your brand. You need to demonstrate what drives you, what your goals are, what motivated you to start this business.
‘Storytelling is not inventing a story. In fact, the very reason why your business exists, why you have developed products and services and why you do what you do is filled with stories’.
Through story-telling, you can create an emotional connection with users, sharing your initial thought process, from spotting a gap in the market to refining your product offering/solution.
‘We all have stories to tell. Every brand has multiple stories to tell. Every achievement, from the conception of your brand idea to the direction in which you are headed, contains stories.’
‘Share your strengths, weaknesses, and how you arrived at where you are today.’
2. Speak Truthfully
As you all know by this stage, I am a huge advocate of transparency. Stick to the facts in your story telling efforts, be honest and consistent with your message. Inconsistent and fictional stories will confuse readers, so be honest in your brand promises, whilst still showcasing your creativity.
3. Infuse Personalities Into Stories
Story telling should not be used for promotions or sales pitches, it should be used to reinforce your brand identity. The writer can show their personality through their writing style, demonstrating the internal culture of the company and the faces behind the brand. Perfect examples of this would be Richard Branson and the late Steve Jobs, consumers bought into their brand as it represented innovation, ingenuity and their entrepreneurial focus.
4. Bring On The Heritage
Who doesn’t love history? People want to know who founded the business, how it evolved and grew, what new markets did they explore? Sharing stories detailing the brand success and expansion will be really engaging and will provide a more personal touch.
Sharing you brand history will also show that you are trustworthy, in that your business is well-established. Even if you are startup, sharing stories of your motivations and dreams will allow people to connect with your idea and praise your ambition.
5. The Cliff Hanger
Storytellers are not sales people, and so this method of engagement should be used to establish and grow relationships. Resulting in loyal customers, created over time. This is a continuous process, in that the brand story will develop and evolve in the future. Keep your target audience engaged with a ‘to be continued’ hook. The aim here is to keep your audience guessing, wondering what you’re going to do next, what your next product launch will be?
‘Apple scores well in this regard – with more than one-third of the population (36%) citing the technology giant as a brand they’re intrigued by. It’s the question at the heart of every TV soap opera – ‘what happens next?’
Storytelling is an effective brand strategy for developing relationships, in that stories engage and draw consumers closer to the brand. ‘Good stories give big voices to small ventures’. Ensure your story is relatable, easily understood, and unique to your brand. Focus on what you do as a brand, your beliefs/cares, your brand essence, your DNA, the very reason you developed the product/service/solution.
We all have challenges in life, sharing one which consumers can relate to is invaluable. Thus creating a more personal and emotional connection between the humans and the brand.
So why not share your brand fairytale? Become a storyteller, share insights showcasing your innovative business mind, or create a nostalgic feeling, when sharing the history of your brand. This is the prefect way of getting into the minds, hearts, and wallets of consumers.