What in the world does brand storytelling mean?

Storytelling is quite a popular term nowadays. But what does it mean? When it comes to brand storytelling, such as using storytelling in marketing, it refers to the company using a narrative to connect the company with its customers and audiences. Basically, it’s when a company uses its values and mission in a story-like fashion to connect with its like-minded customers.

This term has become prevalent in recent years; that’s because storytelling has a powerful effect on people. Studies show that we respond differently, more emotionally, to stories because they are hard-wired into our brains. Therefore, when a company utilizes brand storytelling into their corporate identity, branding, marketing, and the like, the company is going to perform much better. Especially when it comes to acquiring loyal clients.

Over the last decade or so, competition among all industries has gotten much more fierce, particularly when it comes to competition for attention or customer commitment. Companies turned to brand storytelling to get more people interested in their products or services as well as build a more loyal audience. Using brand storytelling to make a name for yourself is a smart and strategic move because of the influence storytelling has on people.

What is a brand storytelling narrative?

A narrative is an overall story your company is trying to tell. A typical story has a plot consisting of characters, background settings, rising action, conflicts, a climax, and a resolution. A story within branding follows similar concepts. There are characters, such as the audience or the company. The background reflects how the company started (or why); the background is one way to connect with customers who face similar problems. Think of the conflict as something the consumer is trying to achieve and the services are there to help them overcome it. The parallels continue, but the idea is to incorporate your company’s values and mission into a story.

You can have a great product, but a compelling story puts the company into motion. If you don’t have a great story it’s hard to get people motivated to join you, to work on the product, and to get people to invest in the product

Ben Horowitz

Who is the main character?

I’m not sure if this is an obvious answer or not. The main character of your brand storytelling is your target client, not you. Your client is the hero of the story your company is telling because they’re hiring you to overcome their problems. That’s why experts recommend focusing on your customer’s state of mind when you’re creating your website. Or, to paint a picture what it’s like dealing with their problem when you’re crafting copy.

When you elaborate to your prospective clients that dealing with problem X feels like Z, you’re drawing them into your brand storytelling. You’re also doing two things at once. First, you’re qualifying your leads because you’re allowing the right prospects to see themselves in the picture your painting. While at the same time you’re enticing them into the story you’re about to tell them about how your services are the right tool to help overcome their problem.

Businesses today, global or local, would do well to consider how their brands are helping bring customers together and how to help foster that feeling through their marketing efforts.

Megy Karydes, Consumers Won’t Stand for Brands That Do This

If your company were the hero of this story, it wouldn’t make a world of difference to a lead because the narrative is irrelevant to them. When you can help your target audience quickly and easily identify themselves as the hero, you’ve caught their attention! That’s invaluable because attention is scarce nowadays.

Why does brand storytelling matter?

It goes back to how your company is selling your services and what you have to offer. Crafting your own story takes some effort, but it can be easily done. Once you have identified what your brand story is, use it to stand out among your competition and connect on a much deeper level with your target audience. Companies that have a cult-like following such as Apple, Patagonia, Lululemon, or even Ellen DeGeneres have been able to build such a loyal audience because they have developed a reliable brand storytelling process that they rarely deviate from, if at all. They know what they stand for and they stick to it.

A key to a cult-like following

Brands that stick to their values over time attracted a large customer base that too believes in those same values. Their audience identifies deeply with what these brands stand for and therefore are loyal customers, viewers, and followers. These people will rarely price shop nor buy a cheaper alternative if they come by one. A devoted Mac user won’t even care they can get a significantly cheaper PC, but they will praise it to anyone willing to listen to them. At the same time, these people will hang on Apple’s every word, especially when it comes to their annual WWDC. That is the power of implementing and leveraging brand storytelling. And, yes, it is 100% possible for small businesses too.

The best way to reach a customer who’s deciding what and when she’ll buy is to stop pushing your products so hard and focus more on why your business exists at all. When you tell this story and explain your values you’ll engage the customers who share your values.

Kaitlin Loyal, Brand Storytelling, Defined

These values are important to so many small businesses. Yet, for whatever reason, they don’t seem to be too outspoken about them. That’s a big shame. The idea isn’t to make up some values and hope they stick but to truly embrace them and not shy away from them. Each business owner has a reason for starting their company. When these reasons are embraced and shared openly, you’re on your way to creating your own brand story.

How to get started with brand storytelling?

Your brand story starts with the driving force of your business. This excludes making money because revenue is the byproduct of being in business, not your company’s overall goal. Instead, it’s your “why,” as Simon Sinek puts it. Ideally, you can boil it down to just a few words. For example, Apple stands for thinking differently and not new cellphones or cool computers. Of course, the premise of thinking differently can be hugely elaborated upon within marketing or advertising.

What your company stands for is different and unique to all other companies and your competition. Your ‘why’ is made up of your company’s values, the reason it was founded, and its vision for the future. All that combines to create the driving force behind your business, and it’s how you start the brand storytelling process.

Figuring out the driving force

If you’re looking to get it done professionally, schedule a call. I’ll gladly help you out. My services include taking a look at your company’s background, values, believes, and vision to create a solid brand foundation. With this foundation, we can set up detailed documentation and a plan on how your brand storytelling translates to other areas of your business, such as website, social media, and marketing.

But, if you’re looking to do it yourself, here are a few useful links:
Donald Miller’s StoryBrand.
CultureIQ’s A Guide to Defining Your Company Values
Bplans’ How to Write a Mission Statement in 5 Easy Steps

The takeaway

Companies with cult-like followers can only achieve this amazing audience because they know what they stand for and leverage a story in which the hero is their ideal customer. The idea of brand storytelling is a fantastic growth method for small businesses who genuinely want to make an impact among its community and clients. It does take a lot of effort and devotion to pull it off – it’s why so many companies don’t do it.

If you’re looking to significantly grow your business, consider taking the time to rethink how your company presents itself to better connect with even more clients on a greater scale.