Brand Storytelling: What It Is and Why It’s Key to Business Success

These days, brands are clamoring to catch the public’s attention by any means possible. With the advent of social media, a brand’s story has become increasingly important. 

However, brand storytelling is nothing new. The entire advertising industry is about telling stories. What is involved in brand storytelling, why is it so crucial to the success of your business, and how does a brand tell a compelling story?

A Powerful Brand Story

The most compelling brand stories capture an audience’s attention, make them feel something (e.g., empathy, excitement, a need to act), and stay with an audience long after interacting with a brand. 

Think about brands that have been a part of the zeitgeist for decades, sometimes centuries; Coca-Cola, Nike, Hershey’s, or Apple, for example. Every brand that has left an indelible mark on the country’s consciousness, or the world, has had a story to tell. That story has resonated in some way with the public. 

Why Telling the Story of Your Brand is Important 

In any industry, there are typically many other businesses vying for the consumer’s attention. Startups and small businesses risk being ignored or forgotten if their story is not interesting enough to rise above the masses of competitors. Studies have shown that people are exposed to an astonishing 4,000 to 10,000 ads per day. Fatigue can quickly set in when one is inundated with that much information. What sets your brand apart from the other thousands of brands a person is being introduced to daily?

Your unique brand story is what is going to differentiate you from the competing brands. Consistent messaging and storytelling will keep your brand at the forefront of the consumer’s mind. Eventually, if your message is strong, consistent, and compelling enough, you will gain a larger market share than your competitors — all based on storytelling. 

The How-To

You may be thinking, “Sure, having a brand story that drives people to remember your business is great, but how do you pull that off?” It’s easier said than done, sometimes. Perhaps you don’t think your brand has a story. Are you supposed to simply make something up? In a word, no. Every brand has a story. Finding that story is what can be the challenging part. Here are three steps you can take to identify — and hone in on — your own brand’s story:

1. Get Specific

Try not to be vague with your brand by just listing off attributes like “reliable.” Instead, think of a story that exemplifies how your product or service was reliable. It’s the old writer’s adage of “show, don’t tell”. How has your brand helped a person with its reliability? That’s where the story is. 

2. Use Emotion 

Brands use a range of emotions to connect with audiences. Think of commercials that involve families far away during the holidays, or talk about the challenges of having children. These stories are meant to appeal to consumers’ sentimental and empathetic sides. Humor can be an effective emotion as well, which is why funny commercials — and the brands attached to them — can often become culturally iconic. 

3. Create Something Long Lasting 

Many brands that have been around for a long time stick with a story arc that evolves, matching the needs and desires of consumers as trends shift and people’s expectations shift with them. Think about the Apple brand. They came out with a hugely innovative story based around the 1984 concept of “Big Brother” early on in their personal computing brand building. This concept solidified its story arc as an innovative brand, willing to go against the grain and be an alternative to the status quo. They have held on to that story arc ever since, and it has served them well. 

How to Relay Your Story to Stakeholders 

Just as it’s important to relay an engaging and ultimately effective brand story to your potential customers, it’s equally important to have stakeholder buy-in with your brand story. They also need to be convinced that your brand is worthy of support and financial backing. 

Your stakeholders are typically the first to hear your brand story, so you need to be prepared and clear about your message before presenting it to them. They will be the sounding board for your ideas, and the first “test run” of how compelling and effective your brand story will be.

Successful Brand Storytelling

You’ll know when and if your brand story has been successful; you will see the results of your successful storytelling in consumer engagement and, eventually, your bottom line. Consistency is absolutely key to making sure your brand story is successful. 

Once you land on what your story is, everything surrounding your brand must be consistent with that story. This consistency will help you avoid confusing your consumers and stakeholders. You never want anyone to ask, “who is this brand trying to be?” You want that answer to be easy. 

Creating a compelling brand story is one of the first things entrepreneurs should do on their journey to building their businesses. By focusing on your reasons for going into business in the first place, how your product or service helps people, and what part of your brand can reach people emotionally, your brand story can become the foundation for ultimate success. 

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