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Brand storytelling is not an entirely new concept even if the term looks modern or trendy. What is new about it is the realization of its importance for all brands, big or small. Building a meaningful connection between brand and consumer is all too important now. With such aggressive competition in nearly every industry, businesses need to get a leg up to maintain their position or improve it.
One of the best and proven methods of doing so is through brand storytelling.
What is Brand Storytelling?
The concept of brand storytelling is pretty straightforward: it’s the story of your brand; a narrative that explains who you are from birth to now to the future.
Don’t confuse this with an About Me page. They are related, of course, but About Me is just a small piece of your brand story in the same way that a white-paper is. In truth, everything you do, say, and sell is part of your story.
A brand story is the connection between your brand and your customers. It’s what proves your relatability, what builds a loyal following, and what expands your brand beyond the products that you sell.
How Does Brand Storytelling Work?
People are storytellers and people connect to stories, whether they’re told by other people or by brands. Think about thousands of years ago before paper when stories of creation and mythology were passed down solely through storytelling. Or the world’s current obsession with films, TV shows, music, and podcasts.
In fact, storytelling is known to help people understand social norms, communities, and emotions. Being a good storyteller can even improve the chances of being chosen as a life partner.
Align with Customer Values
When creating your brand narrative, you’ll want to align your company values and mission with that of your customers. This helps people relate to you, and that relativity nurtures connection which leads to engagement, sales, and profit.
Think about how easily a customer can replace the name of your brand with themselves in your brand story. This is the science behind “mirror experience”. The easier someone can walk in your shoes, the better the connection will be.
Craft an Emotional Journey
It’s safe to say that everyone picks up books or watches movies, giving up on it after 20 minutes because it lacks connection—there is no empathy. An emotional journey requires customers to resonate with you, but “emotion” should equate to sadness or depression.
Exercise brands use excitement and high energy to tell their story. Yoga studios use calmness and tranquility. Use emotion to build a story that reflects your customers but also gives your brand and products purpose.
Your Brand is the Solution
There is a conflict and solution for any product. If you want to improve your morning run, then you obviously need the latest 3D-printed Adidas running sneaker with heel-boosting technology. If you want better posture, then the one and only solution is buying a lyocell t-shirt with plant-based rigid wiring that forces you to sit up straight.
You need to paint the picture that x problem requires y solution. Replace that y with your product/brand and you’ve found the conclusion to your brand story. Reading those two examples, you can clearly tell yourself “No, that solution is expensive and ridiculous.” But when the brand tells the right story, customers will flock to the “solution”.
What are the Benefits of Having a Brand Story?
Not just social media followers, brand loyalists. Telling a detailed, resonating story will always lead to some following. The more niche your brand is, the smaller the following. But the goal isn’t quantity, it’s quality. If you only have 100 brand followers but they all purchase and promote your products, then you’ve told your story well.
No one can copy your story once it’s fleshed out properly. There’s plenty of competition out there, but what sets you apart from the rest is how you resonate with your audience. And one of the best ways to do that is by creating and promoting your brand story.
You can expect increased sales with consistent, well-executed brand storytelling. Think about how often you stop scrolling to look at an ad on Instagram. Something about that post resonated with you. You could imagine yourself wearing those vegan shoes or using that ocean plastic water bottle daily. When the customer can become part of the narrative through resonance, sales increase.
Successful Examples of Brand Storytelling
Two of the most recognizable aspects of Nike is the swoosh logo and the phrase “Just do it”. Through those three words, Nike motivates you to be active. They understand that in the pursuit of a healthier, fitter lifestyle, you are your own worst enemy. Those three words tell you to not let that inner voice talk you down. Just do it. It’s as easy as that.
Because brand storytelling is the connection between brand and consumer, Nike builds that connection by understanding who you are and why you’re using their products. It’s not a brand solely for doers, it’s a brand that converts you into being a doer. Victory is achievable if you just go out there and do it.
That’s an in-depth look at an incredibly simple phrase that most people probably don’t think too much about. But that’s exactly why it works. This is part of Nike’s brand story and it’s one we can all relate to.
Tesla has one of the most interesting brand stories out there. It is luxury, futuristic, geeky, cool, and anything but classic. They’ve wedged themselves between people who want to save the world/protect the environment and people who want luxury and leisure.
Hybrid and electric cars existed well before Tesla came around. The issue was to whom that technology should be marketed and what type of vehicle should contain it. The Prius came out, the hybrid Honda Civic was released, along with many others from popular manufacturers. But at the time, hybrid tech was expensive, and the vehicles being produced were targeted towards an audience that largely couldn’t afford it.
So out came Tesla with the Model S: a techy, luxurious car that put electric vehicles in the mainstream market. Yes, it was expensive, but it also looked expensive. And that was entirely appropriate for the audience it was made for. Their story told these buyers that their old luxury vehicles can’t offer the comfort, the forward-thinking, and the status that a Tesla gives.
Apple has an interesting brand story because we can easily see how it changed over time. At its inception and through the mid 2000s, Apple was the brand for creatives and people who wanted to be unique, to fall out of the mainstream bore of tech. They trademarked the phrase “Think Different” and marketed their products for people who wanted to challenge the status quo.
This built up a brand story that connected with customers on a personal level, which was something missing from tech companies until more recent years. The story molded Apple into a company that at least appeared to innovate, to be different.
Once the iPod rolled out, it was like icing on the cake for Apple. They created something that people wanted, related to, and loved. They marketed their brand story so well that their products no longer needed to target those who think differently. Instead, they could target anyone who wanted to be “in”.
That’s where their brand story changed. Apple kept a lot of what people related to and loved about the company, but they had to change. So, instead of marketing themselves as a niche company for a niche audience, they changed to obtainable luxury. Apple adjusted their story to say, “We are the new standard” and applied it to any lifestyle, age group, and social class.
Ideas for Your Brand Story
Telling your brand story should always reflect your brand’s true values and culture. With that said, sometimes it can be difficult to find your footing. Here are a few ideas that can help you begin.
Interact with your audience when making posts on social media. Holding a conversation with them not only helps you become aware of their values, but also helps them understand yours. Besides that, interactions like this can build up a following of brand loyalists.
Present Your Employees
There’s nothing that humanizes a brand more than showing the people who work behind it. Give your audience a glimpse behind the curtain and let them relate to one of your actual employees.
Tell Actual Stories
Publish customer glow-ups, share a personal story about why you created this brand or work for this brand, show how customers can use your product, and show scenes where your product might improve a situation. Use social media features like stories that allow you to easily create short 15-second clips that inspire your viewers to connect with you.
Brand storytelling is a powerful tool that helps you stand out from the crowd and build up a loyal customer base. Find your story, stick to it, and start sharing. With time and effort, your brand will get the attention it deserves.