Telling Your Brand Story
By Steve Gilman
Stories are what move people and drive them to participate, believe, and often buy. A clear and compelling brand story is crucial to your company’s growth and success.
How do you establish a brand story? If you know why your brand exists, then you are on your way to telling a clear brand story. Your brand story should derive from who you authentically are, and often comes directly from the reasons your brand was founded. The best method for developing your brand story is to clarify your brand position.
Once you have established your brand position, or core “reason to be,” you are ready to develop a compelling and clear central brand story that can serve as the basis for all of the various iterations of your story, no matter what platforms they may be delivered on. For instance, the way you tell your story on the “about” section of your website would be much broader and less dynamic than any of your Facebook video content, but both forms should directly relate to your core brand story and engage audiences with a different emotional impact.
Another important maxim to remember is that it is always more important and much clearer to show instead of tell. The goal is to clearly illustrate (show) the core brand story by using an iterative approach: utilize many different types of micro-stories featuring different points of view, examples, and approaches while informing them with a strong, simple core message for all your different audiences. And remember, one of the most important factors in how you tell your brand story is emotion. Emotional stories have been proven to have a much higher degree of recall than any list of facts or benefits.
So what are the essential building blocks of a strong, effective brand story? Below are four key tools to employ while telling your brand’s story.
1. Make It Personal
You can tell many different kinds of stories. They can come from multiple points of view, and they can be fun, inspirational, or educational. But if you want them to work, they have to be relevant to the people you’re trying to reach. This is important not just to get interest, but also to draw your audience personally into your story. How does your content create a personal connection?
2. It’s about Emotion
A strong brand story is all about stirring emotion and empathy. It’s not just about what you do but how you affect people. Your product may have many cool features, but it has to be about more than that. It has to ultimately be about making specific people’s lives easier and better. Always work to find the emotional hook of the story, and lead with it. Keep in mind, building your story around challenges or problems is a smart way to get an audience’s attention, because a conflict creates a bit of tension and excitement, and your brand can provide the resolution.
3. Keep It Simple
One of the most common mistakes in brand storytelling is trying to say too much. It’s far better to tell a very simple story and maximize emotional attachment than to bombard people with multiple facts and benefits. You could tell a story about large-scale problems facing the healthcare industry, but showing a single issue impacting a real patient focuses the story and provides a connection point for the audience. It’s important to focus on one problem that you are solving, or one person’s situation, so you don’t confuse and lose your audience. This is one reason that user testimonials are such a powerful aspect of marketing.
4. Always Be Authentic
When you share your brand story, people should know it’s your unique story, reflecting your own brand position. That means being honest, transparent, and passionate about what you stand for. It means letting your personality shine through, even if it’s a little quirky. It also means being consistent. When you’re creating a ton of content, it’s important to cultivate consistency so that people can not only identify but instantly recognize and trust your content.
Here’s a testimonial from a farmer partner that works with Shenandoah Valley Organic, one of our clients. SVO has a strong brand story, and this interview with one of their partners supports and reinforces it. The Daughertys’ story is the story of SVO, and it’s a compelling one because it’s personal, authentic, and relatable.
Here’s a video from a campaign we did with DuPont Community Credit Union, promoting their home loans. Notice that although the video mentions some features of the product (e.g. personal guidance from their mortgage advisors), the focus is on making an emotional connection with the audience by showing how a home mortgage can help people meet their personal financial goals. This spot tells several specific, personal, emotional, and clear stories in just the span of a few seconds, all of which support DCCU’s mission and brand story.
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