Once upon a time….
It’s a hallmark of classic storytelling, but the practice is as old as time itself. What began as cave drawings and hieroglyphics developed into oral tradition, alphabets and the written word, and in the last century, technology and media. Storytelling is the key to evolution.
People relate to stories. They feel them — it’s science. Good storytelling has the power to inspire, influence, and connect.
As a business owner, you also have a compelling story to tell: your brand story. Strong brand stories build trust with your audiences, increase engagement and brand awareness, and lead to more loyal audiences — all crucial to your company’s success.
In this guide, we help you define your brand story and understand how to powerfully share it with your site visitors. We’ll cover everything from the elements of great brand stories, the ins-and-outs of your core values (and why they matter), and the most effective ways to share your one-of-a-kind brand story.
You ready? Let’s dive in!
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What is Brand Storytelling?
Before we dig in, let’s establish what brand storytelling is.
Building connections is at the heart of a business. Brand storytelling facilitates positive customer experiences by helping your business connect with audiences, capture and engage their attention, and stand out.
Brand storytelling includes your brand identity:
- Who you are
- Who and why your company came to be
- What motivates you and your team to engage in your work
- How your product came to be
- What audiences find value in your brand and what you offer
A brand story outlines the how and why of your company’s beginnings and in what ways those elements drive your brand mission today.
Your brand storytelling is a key relationship-building tool and can be subtle while still powerfully guiding the concept of your overarching web presence. Your story should be a look into who you are as a business and be something that you — and your entire team — embrace passionately.
Ditch your preconceived notions of a long-winded, thesis-like statement or an isolated, one-off blog post telling a dramatic “Once Upon a Time” tale that marketers use to manipulate your customers or feign authenticity. Your brand story is weaved into every fiber of your business, and your approach to brand storytelling will largely influence the success of your business.
And even though it appears to be a good story about your company — it’s really about your customers and the value you offer them. They are the real stars of your story. Your brand is the supporting cast. The development of your approach to your brand storytelling should reflect that.
Why Does Brand Storytelling Matter?
Stories not only affect our behavior — they influence our biology. Storytelling holds power, and thus, can greatly impact your business.
What’s going on physiologically? Well, storytelling actually increases our brain activity and shapes its neural processes.
Of course, stories activate the language processes areas of our brains but also a wide variety of others — the same neural networks that are activated if we were experiencing a story’s events in reality. With this increase in brain activity comes increased retention and resonance, giving businesses the valuable opportunity of connecting with and influencing their target audiences.
Neuroscience proves it — strong storytelling is an effective way to capture your audience’s attention and form meaningful connections. Because the brain is naturally wired to respond to engaging and well-crafted narratives, you can leverage your brand story to positively impact your business.
So, what makes up a great brand story?
The Components of Great Brand Stories
Obviously, your brand’s story is going to look different from that of other businesses’ — and that’s necessary for setting yourself apart. But great brand stories have a few key elements in common. Let’s explore them. Compelling brand stories are:
Your brand story isn’t just some fanciful tale to tell your audience to get their attention. It’s the story of your brand and what you offer — and that’s vital information. Treat it as such by crafting a narrative that is purposeful and resonates with your audiences and touches people’s lives.
There are real people behind your business, not just robots behind a screen. Resonant brand stories showcase not only how a business came to be and why it matters but also who is behind it. Audiences are going to connect with the people in your stories — real, relatable individuals with whom they can identify. Let personality drive your brand story.
Brand stories that capture an audience’s attention make them feel things. Remember the concept of pathos? Without throwing a pity party or pandering to your visitors, you want to appeal to the emotion of your viewers so they’ll more easily connect to you and your story. Highlight the conflict and how it affects you and your audiences. Think: What about your company’s birth and growth gives you the feels? Whatever it is, make sure to incorporate that into your brand narrative. An emotional connection is a powerful one.
Don’t get bogged down by the pressure of crafting some complicated or elaborate narrative about your business. Keep things straightforward — simply infuse your narrative with the core values of your brand.
Your audiences won’t listen to — or engage with — a robotic, impersonal brand, and they’ll be turned off by a company that pushes incessant sales talk. Your brand story is an essential channel to showcase the authenticity of your brand.
In your narrative, be natural, conversational, personable, and unpretentious. An authentic brand story helps establish trust with your fans and fosters genuine connection. These elements are key for a strong and compelling brand story. Intentionally incorporating them into your narrative will help you connect with viewers and unify your brand presence across platforms. These elements help your audiences become a part of the story — not just a listener.
Remember: Storytelling isn’t just about what you say — it’s how you say it. The way you communicate your message will make all the difference for your brand.
How to Tell Your Brand’s Story
Now, let’s dig into the nuts and bolts — that ever-important how of telling your brand story. How can you craft a narrative that resonates? Start with the basics.
Define Your Core Values
1. Who Are You?
It might seem silly to wax philosophical, but it’s crucial to think about the foundational tenets of your brand, starting with who you are. As the visionary behind your business, you are an essential part of your brand story. Infusing yourself — your beliefs, talents, gifts, skills, qualifications, dreams, and personality — into your narrative will help you identify and attract target audiences, and allow you to craft an authentic and powerful message.
2. What Do You Do?
What goods or services do you offer? What purpose does your business serve? Knowing what your brand does is necessary for understanding the value you can provide for audiences.
3. Who Do You Do It For?
Who does your brand serve? Think about those who most benefit from your products or services, and why you create or make for them specifically.
4. Why Do You Do It?
The why behind what you do is HUGE. What gets you up in the morning? What motivates and inspires you? Why is your business so important to you? Why is it significant to the world? Go ahead, get sentimental.
5. How Do You Do It?
How do you accomplish your purpose? This can include the logistics of operations, but also the looking-forward plans of your business’ visions and goals.
6. What Does Your Future Look Like?
What does the future growth of your brand look like? Where would you like your business to be? How will you continue to offer value over time? How might your what, why, and how adjust as you grow? Consider your future as a core value of your brand.
Know Your Target Audience
Knowing who you’re trying to talk with is critical for crafting an effective and powerful brand message.
If you widely cast a net, you might gather fish, but they might not be the quality catches that lead to a bountiful harvest. On the other hand, if you cast an intentional net that is focused on catching the right kind of fish, you’ll be much better off.
Pescatarian analogies aside, it’s obvious that you need to attract people to your goods and services to build your brand. But with your brand story, you want to attract the right audiences — those targets that will engage, buy, and most importantly — stick around.
You need to be smart and intentional about your messaging so that you can identify the right kind of customer to target.
Take some time to map out who you’re going after. It might be helpful to establish some buyer personas to imagine precisely who your audiences are. With a fleshed-out idea of your target audience, you can better craft your content to be meaningful and powerful.
Create Your Brand Messaging
Now that you’ve identified and internalized your brand’s core values, you can get to the real deal — crafting your brand story and identifying the best ways to share it. Much like the engaging storytelling techniques of the past, you want your brand messaging to be impossible to resist.
Choose Your Format
Your brand story should be strategically infused and incorporated into everything you share — your content marketing, your communication with customers, social media posts, your website, etc. It should guide everything you do and be a crucial part of your marketing strategy. But there are different ways to share that brand messaging. Here are a few ideas:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Data visualizations
- Explainer videos
- Interactive infographics
- Motion graphics
- White papers
- User-generated content
Get creative! But above all, in whatever you share — be true to your brand story.
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The Start of a Great Story
Gathering visitors around your virtual campfire and drawing them in with captivating and inspiring storytelling is a vital part of your business. The content of your brand narrative — and how you share it — will determine the relationships you create with your audience and the effectiveness of the connections you build.
In a few words: It’s time to learn to be a master storyteller. Your brand’s story is valuable.
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