The Unrealized Power of Brand Storytelling

  • Brand storytelling is a way of “bridging the gap” between you and your customers by sharing your business story with them.
  • Your brand’s story includes how you got to where you are now, what you stand for as an organization and what values you practice as a business.
  • With so much visual content shared every day, your brand storytelling needs to stand out against competition.


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Brand storytelling and why it matters

Buying decisions are made, especially for significant investments, when the brand being considered appeals to the target customer on both the rational and emotional levels. Brand storytelling is essential to forming a genuine connection with your clients.

Through brand storytelling, you can give people a glimpse of your brand’s history and help them appreciate how it got to where it is today. It’s also a creative way of informing your customers of your brand’s aspirations, vision, and mission. Everyone loves a good tale and a company with an inspiring backstory enables customers to connect with you  on a more human level. This, in turn, encourages them to continue to support and patronize your business.


Elements of storytelling

NARRATIVE

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You could easily say, “We wanted to put up a business, so we talked about it and did the paperwork. Our doors officially opened on this said date.” That would sum up your timeline but obviously there’s a much richer story behind that basic information. That richer story, even with all its gory details, is the one that your customers will be able to relate with. Flesh out the setting and walk them through the events that led up to the high point of your narrative. This will be much more memorable than a bland rundown of milestones and facts like the  date and year they happened.


As you tell this story, remember that the customer is a central character. They weren’t necessarily involved in all the ways you and your team were, but they have played and will continue to play a vital role. Their attention and support keep you going - and they’d love to hear that acknowledged!



WHAT YOU STAND FOR

Your clients are more likely to empathize with your brand when they have a crystal clear idea of what you and your business stand for. What is it exactly that you want to put out in this world? Not in the literal sense of what products and services you sell. Rather, through providing those products and services, what aspect of our lives and society do you want to make a contribution to?

Take Nike for example. Nike sells athletic wear, sports equipment, and perhaps most famously, shoes. But they don’t just stand for good shoes, watch one or two Nike ads and you’ll quickly learn that Nike stands for overall athletic excellence.


The multinational mass media conglomerate Walt Disney Company is an integral part of so many people’s childhoods. They’ve cranked out movies and TV shows that tug at our heartstrings and urge us to follow our dreams, and they’ve even opened theme parks all over the world that speak to our inner child. Disney stands for happiness, especially the kind that’s born out of good times with your family.


VALUES

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The values you advertise define your company and should be reflected by your everyday operations. Naturally, you want them to sound good in your promotional material, but that won’t mean much if they aren’t practiced in the actual work and daily habits of your team. From onboarding new people to making major decisions, everything you do should be aligned with your company values.

Your organization’s values, and more importantly, how well you adhere to them, are a big factor in making the right emotional connections to your customers. According to the Global Empathy Index, customers tend to be more inclined to support brands that “feel more human”. In fact, their ten most empathetic companies are among those pulling in the largest profits and enjoying the most growth.



Five brand storytelling steps

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REASON FOR BEING

Think back all the way to the beginning, why did you want to open a business? What purpose do you and your company want to serve? If you’re drawing a blank on those questions, think of it this way instead: What kind of change do you want to occur to those who will avail your products or services?

Maybe you want to make their lives easier, or you want to empower them to set aside more time for themselves. Maybe you just want to give them some peace of mind amidst hectic and scary times. Let them know why your company exists and the reason why it does what it does. This will strengthen the company-customer relationship and foster loyalty within your clientele.



HISTORY

Your story should evoke an emotional response from those who hear, read, or watch it. Do you get emotional over statistics or random, unrelated facts? Your audience probably doesn’t, either. Instead of yapping their ear off with a list of milestones, take them on a journey. Talk to them about the challenges you encountered, the big and little victories that made it worthwhile, and everything in between. Your story is uniquely yours, so don’t be shy about using it to build rapport with your clients.



PROTAGONISTS

Your customers will probably find it hard to identify with a nameless, faceless brand. Give them something to relate to by introducing some of the most important figures in the formation and development of your business.

Who are the “heroes” in your brand’s story? Is there someone who inspired you to get into the business, like a family member or one of the pioneers in the field? When you were first getting the brand on its feet, who were the parties that put in the work to make your vision a reality? The real meat of a story is in how the protagonist deals with their situations, not in the situations themselves.



CORPORATE MISSION

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Recall what you stand for, and take some time to think about how that translates to a positive change in your customers’ lives. Your products or services come with some kind of promise or guarantee. Spelling it out for the customer might make them appreciate it more.

Be explicit about the pain points that you hope to address when you serve them. You can back this up with the success stories of past customers or case studies that show a history of real, effective work with the praise of satisfied clients.



YOUR FAILURES

This might seem counterintuitive at first, but talking about your failures doesn’t necessarily mean exposing your weaknesses or struggles. On the flipside, failure shows that you don’t cease in the presence of adversity and that you can recover from rough patches - otherwise, you wouldn’t be around anymore. The ability to bounce back shows your grit and humanity, which most people can appreciate and connect with even if they themselves aren’t business owners.


Breathe life into your brand with storytelling

When you put together gorgeous visuals and a moving, relatable narrative, you get awesome brand storytelling. Nielsen research estimates that there are about 27 million pieces of content that get released or shared every single day. Visual stories are a part of our day-to-day lives, whether we realize it or not. When you have tight competition on every platform, getting your story across in a way that is not just visually appealing but also emotionally impactful will give you a huge advantage in bringing in more customers and having them stay put.

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