Comparisons to storytelling are often made when talking about various types of content creation, IMC plans, and, of course, your overall brand and its journey.
Think about it – how do both stories and businesses begin? With an idea. And both are expanded upon to become larger, more detailed, and able to resonate successfully and deeply with the people they reach.
Is it any wonder, then, that there exists a concept known as brand storytelling?
What is Brand Storytelling?
Brand storytelling is where you take your business’s history, mission, values, and purpose and spin them into a narrative format. This lets you get your message across to your audience in a way that resonates with them and creates a sense of empathy. Brand storytelling allows you to be unique, favourable, and memorable to audiences.
Ideally, you want to avoid making your brand story sound too much like a pitch for your company or product offerings since the point is for the audience to become emotionally invested in your company’s journey and the positive ideals you represent. People respond much more favourably to companies that come across as more authentic and human than to those that feel impersonal and distant.
With brand storytelling it’s not just company values and mission that leave an impact, either – the narrative you tell will be filled with the various challenges your company has overcome, the emotional ups and downs experienced along the way, and the successes that have brought you to where you are now. As the reader follows this story, they experience these very same elements and thus, are captivated by them. This is where the empathy comes in!
How Does it Work?
With each marketing channel you incorporate into your strategy, the more opportunities you have to tell and expand upon your brand story – and get more people engaging with it. Weaving them all together into a cohesive, consistent entity also goes a long way toward building customer loyalty, especially if you look at it with a solid understanding of what your audience wants and needs.
When going in and starting to plan your story out, it is recommended to give yourself a set of guidelines to work along so that, even if you need to outsource part of the storytelling work (for example, due to utilizing multiple communication channels), consistency remains.
Also, keep in mind what you want your brand to be remembered for – particularly when it comes to the emotions you want your consumers to experience during interactions with you. These emotions will create positive associations with your brand that consumers will be unlikely to forget.
Another component of brand storytelling is encouraging your customers to share their own stories – and this works for both B2B and B2C businesses. You can then incorporate the stories your customers share – testimonials, reviews, quotes, etc. – to give other buyers the chance to understand current satisfaction levels and thus, allow them to feel more confident in your brand.
Brand Story Structuring and Elements
Looking at this from another angle, let’s discuss brand stories in terms of a traditional storytelling framework and its elements. Stories typically have a beginning, middle, and end. Brand stories are no different.
The beginning stage is where you introduce your business and all the necessary background information for the story. This includes the setting, characters (who you are), theme, inciting incident, etc. You as the business owner (or even the business itself) would be the main character the audience is following. Meanwhile, the setting would be the time and place your brand story begins – perhaps the time and place you were in when you go the initial idea for the business!
The beginning stage is also where the central theme and the message of your story start to show themselves, in this case being made up of your core brand values. This is where knowing your customers is crucial so that you understand their wants, needs, and values and thus, can share your story in a way that lets people put themselves in the main character’s shoes. For this, market research will be necessary.
As for the inciting incident, this is the event that kicks off the story. Usually, it’s the initial source of conflict that compels a character to do something different. For a brand story, this could be the challenge you faced that inspired you to begin your business or develop your product – perhaps the very same challenge your customers themselves are looking to overcome through your product!
The middle stage follows your business’s journey through all the twists and turns that occur after the inciting incident has taken place. These include the challenges faced, lessons learned, values inspired, and more.
At some point in the story, there should be a climax, which is where the main conflict or drama is at its highest point. Values are tested, characters are challenged, and the audience is on the edge of their seat, rooting for the protagonist to prevail. The climax of the story is usually followed by the resolution.
Speaking of resolution, the end stage is where that happens. For brand stories, this might take the form of your company solving the problem they faced throughout the rest of the story and/or achieving a particular business goal. The main requirement is that it reflects the story’s main point.
Ideally, the resolution should also highlight how your business and its products can go on to help your consumers, as this will add value and encourage them to further engage with you. Make sure to include a call to action, too!
Additional Tips and Conclusion
In general, a brand story should highlight who your business is, why you do what you do, and the things you value and represent.
However, do your best to keep things interesting and well-paced. It’s harder to keep the audience invested if you focus too much on dull data and unimportant details, or if the story moves too slowly due to being bogged down with these things. Stick to the stuff that’s important, fascinating, and captivating. That way, your audience’s interest is retained, and they stick with you right to the end!
If you need help cultivating your brand story, or with any other online marketing needs, my team here at AIM Social is here to help. Find more about our services here!