Nothing captures the imagination like a well-told story. We’re hardwired to be attracted to them, and when it comes to promoting your business - audiences are much more inclined to connect with a good story than a good product.
In the past, companies were just cold entities that supplied us with goods. But these days, that’s not enough to get people to engaged with your brand. Instead, customers are attracted to brands they can relate to, brands that interest them - brands with a great narrative to tell.
Telling a compelling story is just one aspect of good marketing. Before you begin, keep in mind that you'll eventually want to create website branding, content and other marketing assets like logo design and a strong brand identity to provide a home for your brand’s story, and a place for people to interact with it.
What is a brand story
Your brand story is the narrative of your company and an important part of your brand identity. While many brands choose to highlight the story of their inception, or that of their founders - you don’t have to be limited by these guidelines. Think outside the box and expand the limits of your creativity - just make sure it’s intriguing and relates to the qualities of your brand.
A good brand story is meant to communicate who you are. This is true for any type of brand, be it a company, organization or a personal brand. That means it should encompass the values and ideals your brand represents. Your story is what connects your branding efforts with one another, creating a bridge between your mission statement, brand style, and marketing campaigns.
Another goal of your brand story to humanize your business, making sure people can connect with it, and fostering a sense of familiarity and personality as well as brand loyalty. Plan on updating your story periodically - the world never stops changing, and neither should your brand - so don’t hesitate to adapt it to fit current times.
Why do you need a brand story
Telling a compelling brand story can get people interested in your company, creating an unforgettable impression. This is a major part of building a brand. You should always strive to be the first brand in people’s minds when they seek out the products or services you provide.
While gaining recognition for your brand is a must, that's not all it’s about. Your brand story should give audiences something to relate to and support in addition to providing a good narrative. This is crucial for fostering trust and familiarity with potential customers.
At the end of the day, branding is a tool used to grow your audience and increase sales within a competitive market. Today, there are endless options for any given product or service, so people prefer to interact with brands that hold the same values as them. In fact, according to some researchers, shoppers are 55% more likely to buy products from brands with a story they like.
What are the main elements of a brand story?
We're going to go into more detail into what makes a good brand story but before we do we're going to lay out the main elements or principles of a brand story:
A clear purpose for the story and the brand itself
An authentic and genuine emotional connection
An easy to understand, meaningful unique value proposition that sets your brand apart
Consistency across all branding efforts and marketing strategies
An ability to humanize the brand, as a business selling to people with their own pain points and needs
Authenticity that reflects the true values of the brand
What makes a good brand story?
It takes planning and thought to create a brand story that will be effective. A well-crafted brand story should include these principles
Create an emotional connection
Brand storytelling is all about connecting with your audience. The best way to do this is by honing in on shared ideals and values.
You can achieve this by identifying your brand's core values and incorporating these into your brand story. For example, your brand story could revolve around a love for nature, and therefore your story emphasize the importance of sustainability in your product. .
By forming a shared worldview with your customers, you can create an association between your brand and the ideals you stand for. You can form a bond over practically anything people feel strongly about. This can be as simple as an aesthetic view or a passion for a product, activity or idea.
Show your human side
You want people to feel as if your brand is a person - with a personality, emotion and an opinion. This is the best way to give your brand a voice that will connect with others. Ultimately, your brand story will be used to communicate these characteristics.
A good way to do this is by presenting the actual people behind the brand. This doesn’t have to be limited to the company’s founders - your story could be told through your employees and customers too.
Telling your story is a powerful tool, but make sure you can stand behind it. People can recognize when a brand isn’t authentic - and it’s not an attractive quality. On the other hand, customers appreciate brands that are true to themselves and honest to their customers, and will be more likely forge a loyal relationship with an authentic message.
Keep it succinct
Your story should also be easily digestible. Most people don’t have time (or the will) to read 1,000 words on your brand. Try to encapsulate all you want to say in two or three simple points. That’s more than enough to communicate a brand message that will resonate.
Highlight the benefits of your product or services
At the end of the day, telling your brand story is about promoting your product. A successful brand story will connect to your product or services.
In fact, your product and story are part of one package. While it’s crucial to form a bond between your brand and your audience, it’s also important to highlight the product itself. Use your story to tell people what they can expect from your brand by stating what you can do for them and how your products or services will improve their lives.
How to create your brand story in 4 steps
Your brand story is an integral part of your company, so you should take time to brainstorm ideas and flesh out an accurate narrative. These steps will help guide you:
01. Define your message
Before you build your story, you should understand what you want to convey. It’s easier to craft a story around a clearly defined message. To start off, your message should answer each of these questions in a sentence or two:
What does your brand do?
You already know what products or services you provide. But that’s just the surface of what you do.
Every product has an additional value or impact on whoever buys it, and this is a critical ingredient of your brand's story. Take board games, for example. The value isn’t in the pieces themselves or the rules of the game, but in bringing people together to have fun.
How does your brand do what it does?
The “how” is an important part of any brand story. Describe how you manufacture your products, what materials you use and what technology goes into it. You should also describe where you manufacture and who you employ. If your brand provides a service, describe the level of expertise and know-how that goes into it.
You don’t have to include all of this in your brand story, but it could be useful to enhance your narrative. Remember, your customers value transparency.
Why do you do it?
Most people prefer to buy products from a brand with an agenda they believe in.
Define a higher purpose for your brand, one that people can relate to. This means defining what drives your brand and how it benefits others. You will attract more customers by giving them a reason to connect with - and support - you.
Who are you?
You don’t want your brand story to be all about business, products and sales. Customers like brands that have a personality, and one of the best ways to do this is by giving a “face” to your company.
Do this by finding a personality for your brand. Brands can embody the same qualities as human beings. Think of what characteristics can be used to describe your brand and the people involved in it. Should it be casual, or serious? Knowledgable or ambitious? Familiar or helpful? Whatever you choose your brand story should convey authenticity.
Your brand identity is an extremely important part of growing your business overall, and should influence your brand’s style, colors, brand name and marketing efforts.
02. Understand your target audience
In order to know what story would work best for your brand, you need to define your target market. This way, you’ll be able to craft the narrative that’s most likely to speak the customers you’re after.
The best way to understand your audience is by talking directly to them about their experience. You can do this by sending out crowd surveys and performing research on their habits. Once you have your target market pinned down, understand who they are as people - think of what your brand can do for them, what language it will use to grab their attention, and what methods you will use to communicate with them.
03. Build your narrative
This is where the brand storytelling begins. At this stage, you need to pinpoint the important aspects of your identity and its message, turning it into a story that will resonate with your audience.
When relevant, it's always good to start from a conflict or struggle that your brand seeks to solve or overcome. Describe what caused you to take action. In general, audiences want to know what made you start your brand.
Next, you should describe how your brand works towards that vision. How do you plan on accomplishing your goals? This part of the brand story should highlight what your brand is doing now, and how it will continue in the future.
Finally, explain how your products will impact people’s lives directly, and in the context of the bigger picture. How will it make their lives better? But also - how will it improve the world?
04. Compose your brand story
Once your brand story story is complete, don't let it gather dust. Find the right platforms to broadcast it. This might mean posting a series of videos on YouTube, creating posts for social media, landing press articles and interviews with relevant publications, and more.
Each form of media should be optimized for its platform in order to accurately communicate your cause and gain attention. In other words, telling your story using video won’t require the same material as a written article, so you’ll have to create relevant content for each outlet.
Don't forget to tell a version of your brand's story on your website, too. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a dedicated About Us page. Remember, your story is a vital part of your brand, and everything your brand does should be in sync with it.
Creating a brand story template
Your brand story template or plan should be the beginning of your creation process. It can help layout your brand story must haves and provide direction to the creative process involved in writing a truly great brand story. We recommend incorporating the following sections in your plan:
Introduction: Start by introducing your brand and setting the context for your brand story. Explain what your brand does, who it serves, and what makes it unique.
Background: Provide some background information about your brand, such as how it was founded, what inspired its creation, and what challenges it has faced along the way. This will help humanize it and establish your authenticity.
Purpose: Explain the purpose of your brand, including its mission, vision, and values. Describe how your brand seeks to make a difference in the world and what motivates it to do so.
Unique value proposition: Describe your brand's unique value proposition and what sets it apart from your competitors. Explain what your brand offers that no one else does and why this is important to your target audience.
Brand personality: Describe your brand's personality and tone of voice. Explain how your brand communicates with its target audience and what emotions it seeks to evoke.
Customer experience: Describe the customer experience your brand offers, including how you treat your customers, how you address their needs, and what kind of support you provide. This should come from your target market research and ongoing research on your current customers.
Success stories: Share success stories that showcase how your brand has made a difference in the lives of its customers. These stories can be in the form of testimonials, case studies, or videos. Don't be afraid of multimedia when building your brand story, a variety of content can only make it more appealing.
Conclusion: Sum up your brand story by restating your brand's purpose and unique value proposition. Emphasize what sets your brand apart and why your target audience should care. Consider adding ways to distribute your brand story and get it into their sphere of influence in your conclusion.
In theory any form of AI content generator could be used as a brand story generator, if fed the right prompts. But considering the importance of your brand story to your brand and business, we think any AI generator should serve as a first draft only. An effective brand story needs your personal company touch to make it authentic and genuine.
Examples of great brand stories
GoPro filled a gap in photography that no other company has tackled: the ability to record action while it’s happening. The About Us section on their website tells their entire brand story in a classic structure. It’s easy to understand, the values the brand are clear and we can understand GoPro's what their aim is - while at the same time, they makes sure that their users are a part of it.
The company was founded by Nick Woodman, an extreme sports enthusiast, who wanted a better way to film his friends surfing. The story also describes their first model, which adds a sense of depth and humility.
Their brand story goes on to describe their users, saying “They humble and inspire us every day with incredible creativity that helps us see the world in an all-new way - and fires us up to keep creating the most awesome, innovative products possible.”
The GoPro story makes it clear that their customers are a major part of the brand, which forges a connection with and appreciation for the company. The final part of their story explains how GoPro is a brand that improves the lives of its users, by allowing individuals to “celebrate the moment” and “capture life as you live it, share the experience.”
Lemonade is an insurance company that wants to change the insurance industry. Understanding that insurance is complicated and a hassle for most people, Lemonade makes their process simple and quick by charging a flat fee and providing myriad services on one app.
They’ve also understood that most people view insurance companies as greedy, which is why they offer a transparent process and even give part of their customers’ premium to charity. They sum this up pretty well in just two lines on their website: “Job #1 is to ensure we can always pay claims. Job #2 is to give back money that isn’t needed for Job #1.”
While Lemonade’s brand story doesn’t exactly put a face to the company, it works because they focus on their target audience. It highlights exactly what the product can do for them and how the company benefits the world in the process. They’ve found a problem many people share and they offer a technology-based solution in a vibrantly branded package.
Airbnb also revolutionized their industry by offering travellers to bypass traditional hospitality options and book unique accommodations directly from local hosts.
But the Airbnb story is no longer about challenging the hotel industry. Rather, it’s about the ability to create a bespoke vacation and to be able to experience new locations like a local. Their YouTube channel is filled with videos of unique, local experiences, like this one about a UK clog maker.
Airbnb’s brand story evolved from one about the hospitality industry, to one that revolves around their users - the modern day traveler. It’s now all about enticing these travellers to visit new places.
This shift in their brand story is important. They’ve realized that now that they’re a leading company in their field, they no longer have to talk about their platform. Airbnb knows that their target audience - travellers who don’t want an ordinary tourist experience - is already aware of the brand. Simply enforcing the notion that Airbnb is the perfect option for such an experience is enough to capture customers’ affection and gain their business.