“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories that you tell.”
That’s from American author, entrepreneur, and marketer Seth Godin. And this statement rings even more true in today’s world, which is characterized by an ocean of content competing for dwindling attention spans.
Stories are not just another marketing trend. Science has found that the human brain responds to the descriptive traits of stories in ways that influence both the sensory and motor complex.
The process of absorbing a story produces greater comprehension, understanding, anticipation and receptivity in people, the net effect of which is trust.
This process is something that an increasing number of brands have placed greater emphasis on developing.
“A good story makes you feel something and is universal,” explains Mark Truby, Ford Europe’s Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs. “They want to grasp your values and your commitment to excellence; be inspired and intrigued. Storytelling is the most powerful way to convey these ideas.”
So What Exactly Is a Brand Story?
Digital marketing agency Custom Fit Online defines “brand story” as the complete narrative that surrounds a business.
Your brand story shows not only how you do business but also why you do it in the first place. It shows how you’re uniquely qualified to help solve your customers’ problems.
It’s important to note that your brand story, and brand storytelling as a marketing strategy, is not meant to be a sales pitch (at least not directly). It is a way to humanize your brand and company and to facilitate more meaningful connections between your business and its customers.
Why You Need to Utilize Storytelling
Because brand stories help develop trust and create connections with your customers, they have also become an excellent way to tap into the customers’ emotions.
People ultimately make buying decisions based on those very emotions. So it has become integral for brands to use emotional branding through storytelling to avoid being forced to compete solely based on features and price points.When you tell a story that embodies human challenges, you create experiences that resonate with your customers.Click To Tweet
Here are a few tips for how to get started on crafting your own brand story.
Make It Real
While you want a story that captures people’s imaginations, as well as one that people can relate to, you need to make sure that the narrative is coming from an authentic place.
Whether you derive it from the company origins or create it some other way, your brand story has to be a real representation of the values you represent.
Make It Relatable
As alluded to earlier, trust is one of the main objectives of utilizing brand storytelling. And one of the easiest ways to build trust is by telling a story that is relatable.
For example, Nike resonates with people looking to excel in their respective fields. Apple incorporates creativity and technology as the characteristics of their products. So look for something about your brand that people can relate to, and then work from there.
Make It Engaging
Whether it’s humorous, inspiring, heartwarming, or exciting, try to create a story that draws people in by evoking an emotional response. Stories that tug at people’s emotions create connections that ultimately lead to trust.
Make It Known
An inspiring story cannot help you in any way if no one knows it exists. First, decide whether you want your story to be in video form, textual, or both.
Then choose a platform you think could be a good home for your story. It could be your About page, a special blog on your website, or a post on Youtube or other websites.
But you shouldn’t stop there. Make sure to introduce your story to every person with whom you wish to connect. You can do so by featuring it in your emails or sharing it on your social media profiles.
You can even amplify your story with social media ads. As Shopify points out, you can capitalize on Facebook’s custom audience feature and select which of the 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users you wish to target when promoting your story. Doing so will ensure you tap the relevant audience your brand needs.
A good story is one that’s able to grow and evolve with the company. Ideally, you should be able to repurpose the brand messaging linked to the story should your company make a strategic change.
Examples of Good Storytelling
As part of Ford’s pre-launch marketing for the Focus RS, the car giant produced an eight-part documentary released on YouTube. It showed how their team of engineers worked under tremendous pressure to meet a litany of excruciatingly tight deadlines.
“We exposed the true story—setbacks, conflict, compromises and ultimately, success,” Truby said about the successful campaign. “Once you’ve watched this, you can never see an RS on the road again without understanding just how much passion went to creating it.”
Humanizing a car is not the easiest of tasks. But Ford’s behind-the-scenes look into the creation of the RS did a spot on job of doing so.
GoPro could have blinded the public with impressive feature charts and fact sheets. Instead, the company invited anyone with an action cam into a cool global community of adventurers who share their adrenaline-pumping visual stories with the world.
The simple, crowdsourced campaign has resulted in a continually growing archive of incredible and beautiful moments. It has placed the power of storytelling right in the customers’ hands.
“We have passionate ideas about what’s possible in this world,” says GoPro Founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman. “Our passions lead us to create experiences and realities that expand our world and inspire those around us.”
“GoPro helps people capture and share their lives’ most meaningful experiences with others—to celebrate them together.”
As mentioned earlier, a brand’s story doesn’t only tell how it does business. It perhaps, more importantly, tells why.
And TOMS answers that question with a story, published in a book, that also serves as the foundation of its very existence. TOMS sells shoes in order to improve lives. For every shoe the company sells, it provides a pair for a person in need.
The company leaders tell a story that humanizes their entire operation. But they are also able to create a unique selling proposition that makes them stand out from the crowded footwear industry.
This commitment to improving lives over solely focusing on profit has likewise allowed them to invest in the creation of emotional profit. And that is something that could ultimately be more valuable in the long run.
The North Face
The American outdoor product company The North Face did a great job of using its story to connect with customers, encouraging them to explore and never to stop exploring.
“Whether through gear, expeditions or access, we have enabled generations of explorers to connect with the outdoors,” the brand says. “The passion for exploring and dedication to preservation that our leaders poured into a small thriving business remains the bedrock of our company’s culture today.”
And apart from inspiring a culture of exploration, The North Face also tells a story of corporate social responsibility. This encouragement toward activism allows people to keep having places to explore.
The North Face invests in conservation to make their processes sustainable, as well as helping to preserve the outdoors. The brand encourages people not only to go outdoors but also to be conscious of their environmental duties.
The best brand stories are able to tap into people’s emotions. They enable people to connect to what the brand does, what it stands for, or where it came from.
With successful brand storytelling, businesses are able to create and foster relationships that eventually lead to long-term brand loyalty.
But in order to craft a story that resonates with your customers, you must keep in mind that people always care more about themselves than they do about your brand. So your story must not only include them but also highly engage them.
Ultimately, while the narrative you tell might be your brand story, it’s not about you. It’s about creating a connection that tells your customers that you relate to, understand, and are like them.