Does your company have a brand story? You’re probably familiar with some large, well-established companies with brand stories (Ben & Jerry’s, Apple, and Disney to name a few). Maybe as a small business owner or entrepreneur, you’ve heard about brand stories, but you’re not exactly sure how to create one or if you even need one at all. In this post, I’ll go over why brand stories help you connect with your audience, how to build one, as well as how to get others to tell your story.
Why brand stories are effective
People have been telling and listening to stories for thousands of years. Our brains are programmed to enjoy and remember the stories we hear. Recent research even shows that our brains are deeply affected by the experience. So much so, that the brain activity of the listener actually synchronizes with the brain activity of the storyteller in a process known as neural coupling. Stories affect both the sensory and motor cortex of both the storyteller and the listener. In essence, hearing a story is equivalent to feeling the experience. Neural coupling results in greater understanding, anticipation, and receptivity for the listener. It is through this process of neural coupling, that the storyteller is able to establish trust with the listener.
But to establish this trust, the story must have the right features to appeal to the right audience. First, it can’t be boring. It needs to use emotion to engage your audience. Likewise, your story should allow your brand personality to shine through. So the first step to building your brand story is to establish your brand’s personality (see my previous post for a detailed guide on establishing your brand personality). Once your brand personality is crystal clear to you, you are ready to work on your brand story.
Your brand story is driven by your brand personality. It is inspired by the people within the company who are involved in creating, supporting, and developing your product or service, as well as your clients and like-minded individuals. In other words, your brand story involves your team and the users of your product along with your personality to guide the content.
How to Build Your Brand Story
Every good story has an arc that takes your audience on a relatable journey.
Here’s a simple 3-step method to create an effective brand story:
1 - Start by explaining the problem that your client is experiencing.
2 - Describe the solution to the problem and how you helped to solve the problem.
3 - Describe the successful outcome, but don’t stop there. Get excited about the difference you just made.
It may be tempting to add more to your story. But the most successful (and memorable) stories are always the most simple ones. Don’t make it complicated.
The language you choose to tell your story should be a clear reflection of your brand. If your personality is fun and playful, your writing should be as well. If your brand is rugged and adventurous, then so is your writing. This is a crucial step to maintain the story’s authenticity.
At its core, your story should tell your audience why your company exists. What problem are you solving for them? Ultimately, your brand story needs to let your audience know that you get them.
Remember, your story isn’t really about you or your business. It’s about your relationship with your customers. The outcome that you hope your brand story creates is a connection with your audience. If you can create that connection, your target audience will trust your company.
The key takeaway is that through your brand story, you are showing your target customers that your goals align with their goals. They have problems and you’re providing the solutions. Consistently.
How to Get Others to Share Your Story
When your story successfully connects with your audience, it’s time to encourage them to tell others about your story. To do that, make sure that you’re highly active on social media. Encourage your customers to retweet and share your posts. Also, encourage clients to share their stories on social media. Testimonials are a powerful way to build trust. You could even encourage customers to share their enthusiasm for your brand online. This can be done through campaigns such as encouraging customers to take a picture with your product and post it online along with a particular hashtag.
What does a brand story look like?
What comes to mind when you think of Ben & Jerry’s? Maybe a particular creatively-named flavor comes to mind or the fun, colorful packaging. Or maybe you think about the ways they give back to their community. All of these features are part of Ben & Jerry’s unique brand personality.
Ben & Jerry’s has a 3 part mission statement: to make fantastic ice cream, to manage their company for sustainable financial growth, and to use the company in innovative ways to make the world a better place. These form the broad solutions to their customer’s problems, but let’s look at one particular problem.
People want great ice cream. They want great flavors made with real ingredients.
Ben & Jerry’s solution is to constantly create new flavors made with the finest ingredients. They do this by experimenting. They encourage their team to try some crazy flavor combinations. Some succeed and some don’t. For those that don’t make it, Ben & Jerry’s has created a Flavor Graveyard with rows of cartoon tombstones with the flavor and its start date and end date. They even create a playful epitaph for each one. Ben & Jerry’s also allows the user to vote to resurrect a flavor. This is a great way to encourage customers to engage with their brand.
The successful conclusion of the story is discussing how the company recognized the problem and showing how the company solved it. It’s the alignment of the goals of the target audience with the goals of the company. Here they want to ensure that they emphasize the brand’s growth and future success. That although they provided a solution to the problem, it’s really only the beginning. This helps to keep customers excited about the brand.
Your brand story creates the foundation for your marketing campaigns and marketing materials. You will greatly enhance your brand’s presence and long-term prospects if all of your efforts stay consistent and true to your story.
Having trouble defining your brand’s personality? I can help. I have a process that will help guide you to discover your brand’s true personality. Contact me for a consultation.