When it comes to standing out in our crowded world and winning over customers, creating an effective brand story is one of the best (and least expensive) ways to do both.
A brand story is bigger than just your company’s history or latest advertising campaign—it’s the overarching narrative that forms from the feelings, products and experiences your business produces. It’s formed over time through intentional efforts by your marketing and communications teams, but (re)written daily in your employees’ interactions with the public and your customers’ experience with your product or service.
It’s emotional and personal, and often transcends reasoning. For example, think of a time when you passed over a cheaper or more available option to buy from the brand you prefer, even if there was no demonstrable benefit. Maybe you opted to shop at the Apple Store instead of Best Buy, or the local independent bookstore over Barnes & Noble.
You’ve built a story in your mind as to why you prefer a certain brand or one is better, and it now influences your decision making and spending.
Customers are doing the same thing with your brand every day. They are considering the messages they get from advertisements and social media posts and casual conversations, and are actively revisiting how your brand supports or impedes their life. The “stickiness” of these stories is why it’s so important to work on your brand storytelling approach, so you can positively influence those thoughts and stories over time.
Here are recommendations we commonly share with Informatics clients when they're looking to burnish their brand story.
Know Thy Self Well
This may seem like Marketing 101 in today's business age, but many companies still don’t know how to define who they are or what they stand for, either in their own eyes or in the eyes of their customers. If you don’t know that, how can you tell a cohesive story?
This process typically starts with a company’s vision, mission and values, but it goes deeper than that. Consider the following questions as starting points for exploring your brand:
- How do you speak to customers and the world? What is your brand voice?
- What characteristics does your brand embody? Accuracy? Creativity? Risk-taking?
- What’s your value proposition to customers? Are you all about low prices and quick checkouts, or in-depth knowledge and consulting?
- How do your products or services make customers feel? Does your customer’s heart race or relax when they use your brand?
- How far have you come as a company, and where are you going?
By understanding (and continually refining) your brand, you can create more honest and authentic content for customers. Why is that important?
Tell an Honest & Authentic Brand Story
It’s common advice in writing class to “write what you know.” That’s because you will write most naturally and enthusiastically about topics you are familiar with or passionate about. That, in turn, inspires positive emotion and trust in the reader.
Today’s customers are savvy, not stupid, and can see through disingenuous marketing or social media content. Don’t try to be something your business is not, or champion causes that have no connection to your people or brand, unless you want to risk adding a “poor choice” chapter to your story.
Focus on what you know best—your business, your industry, and your employee and customer passions—and the right customers will soon become fierce brand advocates, sharing your story with their friends and family.
Focus on the Humanity
Storytelling is a uniquely human activity, and we should always treat it as such, even in business communications. People don’t want to establish trust or build a business relationship with a faceless corporation—they want to do it with a person who represents the company and embodies the values their brand stands for.
While your company may be doing the storytelling, you should always endeavor to put your words and thoughts in a more human form if you want it to resonate with your customers. Consider the following approaches:
- A blog written by an employee about their first day, their first year, a new discovery or a passion project
- A marketing campaign created from the point of view of a potential customer evaluating your products
- A video of collected customer testimonials talking about how your brand helped them accomplish something
Note that you don’t have to create characters to do this. You can simply create content that aligns with your brand’s marketing personas, or fictional personalities that embody your target customers. This will resonate with your target audience in the same way, inspiring an emotional response to your content, and hopefully a greater connection to your products or services.
As master marketer Neil Patel writes, “Customers should buy a part of the story, not just a product.” Creating a brand story rich in authentic emotion is a big part of making that happen. For more tips and suggestions for refining your brand storytelling approach, reach out to the digital marketing experts at Informatics—we’re storytellers at heart!