Once Upon a Brand - the Importance of Brand Stories
Whether they be smart, savvy, emotive or humorous, brands rely on brand stories to connect with their customers. Why? Stories make life interesting and they make people listen. In fact, research shows that our brains become more active when we engage in a captivating story.
Brand stories aren’t by any means a new concept. Every year, we are seeing more and more brands realise the potential and power of stories to transform their presence and identity. Iconic brands are capitalizing on the concept by devising in-depth consumer engagement strategies to tell their brand stories, and are succeeding by involving consumers every step of the way. As an example, brands like Disney and Coco-Cola have long realised the power of their brand story to build a connection with their audience. While companies like Apple have a brand story that is treated like legend.
Using a great story to underline all marketing efforts is a strategy that businesses and entities of all sizes can benefit from, as it requires minimal monetary spend. Unfortunately, many brands (or businesses, if you’d prefer) neglect to promote or even reflect upon their brand story, which research suggests may be detrimental to your brand.
As part of this month’s blog, we explore what a brand story really is, and propose some tips on how to create your story and get it right.
What is a brand story?
Storytelling as it applies to your business isn’t about spinning a fairytale to hypnotise your consumers into a state of fantasy. Rather, it’s a combination of factual aspects of your brand. From your business’ history and evolution, to your goals and audience.
A brand story will leverage how your products or services choose to exist in the world, yourraison d’être. It’s your brand’s identity and functions - how you can add value to people’s lives, satisfy their wants and meet their needs. A compelling brand story may give audiences a way to connect with your business, or with others. Regardless of whether your story is rational, spiritual or imaginative, at the core of your story must be the real value that you can deliver to your customers.
Essentially, it doesn’t fit in with the conventional definition of “storytelling” at all - it’s simply telling and emphasizing what’s true, and telling it well.
Tips for a great Brand Story
There are many ways to find, and tell your brand story. Here are some tips to help you make a start:
Make it truthful. Truth should be the cornerstone of every piece of content you create. Don’t fabricate or over exaggerate - include real people and real situations, as well as genuine emotions and facts.
Keep it original. Don’t try and rehash an existing brand story, consumers will see right through it. Your story should offer consumers a fresh perspective. What makes your brand different? Don’t just tell people why your business is important, show them.
Use a structure. Don’t ignore the traditional story structure. Ensure that your brand story has a:
- Beginning - hook your audience, discuss your inception, history and evolution.
- Middle - reinforce your hook, discuss your product and/or services’ purpose and application.
- End - explain how you can meet the needs of people. What are the stakes for the consumer? What can they gain from you? Why should the consumer care? And don’t forget to include a call to action.
Use natural language. Avoid using buzz words and formal language in your brand story. Consumers will be able to tell if you’re just reciting your marketing strategy. If your language is false and forced, your consumers will lose interest almost immediately. Use natural language, and an authentic voice that your consumers can understand and connect with. Of course, this doesn’t mean publishing the first draft of your brand story. Once you know your audience well enough, you’ll be able to use language that speaks directly to them.
Stick to your message. Anything you produce should be created with your stated values and mission in mind. Your brand story is no exception. Ensure that it reflects and promotes the essence of your brand.
Leverage the human element. Even if you sell B2B, don’t neglect to include how your products or services help actual people. Too often than not, we see brands overuse infographics and statistics to promote their services. Sure, facts and figures can be persuasive, but stories are memorable. In an Entrepreneur article based on brand storytelling techniques, author and PR professional Kambri Crews suggests that a personal anecdote will always sell that little bit better.
Use visuals. Take your story one step further and enable your consumers to not just hear, or read your story, but see it. The use of visuals, such as imagery, video or graphics, will make your brand story more interesting and memorable. Think about including details about the story setting, or emphasizing the senses where possible.
Serve the customer. Remember that your business is in the customer’s hand. Above anything, ensure that your brand story appeals and serves the customer in a meaningful way. Avoid a story that’s corporate centric, or egotistical.
So, what are you waiting for? Armed with these tips, you can take the time to reflect, and craft a great brand story that represents your business in the right way. All it requires is a bit of imagination and creativity! Not only will your brand story assist in creating engaging content to distribute, but it will allow you to establish channels of trust with your valued consumers.
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About the contributor:
Colin Fruk is the General Manager Membership at CCIQ. He is an experienced marketer, having managed customer relationships and revenue for well-known brands like Queensland Theatre Company and the Abused Child Trust before joining CCIQ.