To start us off, here are a few things your brand’s story isn’t (or shouldn’t be):
- A company history
- A way to tell people about your product/service
- Your founder’s biography
So what is it?
Your brand’s story should do two things. First, it should let potential customers know what value they will get out of doing business with you. How will you impact their lives in a way that is different or better than your competitors?
Second, it should summarize who you are and how you got there in a way that makes people want to get to know you better. It is a story after all. Your story should develop human interest in order to create a connection with listeners (read: potential customers).
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool for establishing such a connection. In fact, research shows that reading descriptive stories affects both the sensory and the motor cortex of the brain – meaning that we truly feel the experience we’re reading about and empathize and engage with its main characters.
So how do you turn your company and team’s entire collective experience into an easily digestible and engaging summary of your brand?
Think about your audience first.
Center your story on your audience. Who are you telling the story to and what value can you bring them? This is the perfect opportunity to utilize your customers’ stories, as they are authentic stories from the perspective of your audience. Think about what your customers say about you. (Don’t know? Ask!) Remember, your story isn’t about your product or service. It’s the full experience of what it’s like to engage with your brand, and your customers are uniquely qualified to help tell that story.
Create a character audiences root for.
Your company’s story isn’t your CEO’s biography. It’s the journey of how you’ve gotten to where you are today and where you’re going in the future. Think about all the members of your team; think about your customers. Altogether they make up the personality of your company.
Helen Nesterenko, founder of Writtent.com, put it best: “A story that only shows what happens to the protagonist is boring. Stories that depict a character’s active pursuit–of justice, love, triumph–are far more interesting because the character actually does something.”
Don’t be afraid to talk about your challenges.
A knight waltzing up to a castle and defeating a dragon with the first stroke of his sword makes for one boring tale. It can be tempting to pick out all of the rosy highlights of how your company came to be in order to demonstrate your greatness. But touching on the hurdles you’ve had to overcome and the lessons you’ve learned from them is a far more relatable and believable story. It also shows growth, humility and a desire to continuously improve and learn.
Know your highlights, but don’t be too scripted.
If you’re telling your story on video, it may be tempting to write a script before shooting in order to make sure you’re selling yourself the right way. But remember, your brand’s story is not about just selling yourself. The advice we always give our clients is to toss the script. Your story will be better if it’s less rigid and comes across more conversational. When you don’t lock yourself into tight parameters of what you want to say, your mind will start flowing more freely and you may recall fun anecdotes that truly show your company’s personality.
Now, that’s not to say don’t map out your main points. A better method – besides having a marketing partner who can help guide you – is to write down some questions to get you started, such as our storytelling questions list which you’ll find here. You can even add in some fun questions (if your brand was an animal, which animal would it be?) to help you loosen up, show personality and keep in conversational.
Download Your Brand Storytelling Checklist
Moving forward with your story.
Marketing is all about providing current and potential customers with plenty of opportunities to experience your brand. The delivery method of your brand’s story will take many forms, which gives your customers the chance to select how they want to interact with you.
Everything from your website to your marketing materials to how you act with your customers is as an extension of your story and your brand. Not every retelling of your story will include every detail, but the important thing to remember is to keep the heart of the story consistent, and most of all make sure it is authentic.
Brand Story Examples.
To get your inspiration flowing, check out the following brand stories. From stories of their passion to their mission and impact to telling their story through the eyes of those they serve, these brands create engaging content that immediately let’s customers connect with what they’re all about.
GoPro tells its story through a letter written by founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman, in which he writes, “GoPro helps people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others—to celebrate them together. Like how a day on the mountain with friends is more meaningful than one spent alone, the sharing of our collective experiences makes our lives more fun.”
Nonprofit Charity Water takes you on a journey through the eyes of those they help. They get right to the heart of the brand and its mission. The value they bring and the lives they impact are their story.
Airbnb is a prime example of letting its users tell the brand’s story. Their social media accounts are full of user-generated content that spread its message of connecting people around the world with unique travel experiences. The short below – a simple, touching story of the brand’s impact – was even nominated for a Webby Award.