Conviction courses through the veins of every small business founder as they tell the story of how their product or service holds the elusive answer to their audience’s deepest needs and challenges. They have built their business around it. They have told this story over and over, from business meetings to impassioned sales pitches over bourbon. However, most of their customers will never have the opportunity to be convinced face-to-face.
The important question for these businesses, then, is how does that story translate to their online audience? The customers of today have, quite literally, the world at their fingertips. With endless solutions to problems, now in various shapes and colors, customers need a compelling reason to trust one company over another.
Regardless of your business’s product innovation or comprehensive solution, if you don’t establish a strong brand identity and your value proposition is lost on your target audience, you are doomed before the first chapter of your brand story even begins.
The Power of Brand Storytelling
“There is nothing new under the sun,” said King Solomon (and more dashingly, Bert Cooper in Mad Men).
Every good brand has a story. The ability to tell it in the right way can instill in your audience a lasting trust and connection that is rarely rattled by changes in the competitive landscape. Crafting your story into every phase of your customer journey is the most potent marketing tool you can utilize to leave a lasting impression.
Your brand story is not, or at least shouldn’t be, confined to your founder’s story. While invaluable, the founder’s experience will not always speak to your audience the same way your brand story will.
How to Identify Your Brand’s Story
Not sure where to start?
Think about the stories that stay with us. Your brand should elicit a potent narrative, much like every celebrated work of fantasy.
We remember stories of great challenges requiring skill and bravery in the face of hardship: Harry defeating Voldemort, Luke Skywalker facing off against Dark Vader, or the Avengers eating all that shawarma. Envision your clients are your heroes, charged with daunting challenges, searching for a way to save the day. They stumble upon your business, and with your help and guidance, they can return home victorious.
Rather than being a story about you and your business, brand storytelling crafts the hero’s journey of your customer. They are the hero of the story but need your solution to save the day. Every truly valiant and noteworthy brand can change the narrative of the unsung hero.
Your brand’s story should have a well-defined arc. Your company exists because your customers have a problem and need a solution. Your story should convey why your company is not only the right solution to help in the struggle but also the right advisor and mentor to make them the hero of their own story. Yoda, you are.
Remember: The success of your brand is largely dependent on the success of your customers.
Building Your Framework
Every good saga starts with an outline. Even some of the most famous epics were once (probably) only ideas on a napkin.
When you craft this outline, start with the overarching storyline and name the principal characters:
- The hero: your customers and personas with their own challenges and goals.
- The villain(s): the great challenges or barriers your customers face.
- The secret weapon: your solution and how it solves your customers’ problems.
Once you have these elements as key parts of your narrative, you can frame the “happily ever after” your customers will experience through enlisting your solution. When crafting your framework, it is important that you consider flexibility in your messaging, the importance of building trust, and keeping your audience engaged.
Changing with the Times
Problems and challenges are never static. For example, the cybersecurity industry constantly faces new threats as technology advances, and the never-ending story in healthcare is how to keep patients healthy and happy amid pandemics or recessions.
In the same way, building your brand story needs to be nimble, advising customers on the best way to handle their challenges and acting as the sherpas to their ever-changing Everest. While constructing messaging around differentiators or product specs, it is crucial to remind customers how these points relate back to the overall story, especially as new challenges arise.
To build brand loyalty, you must first build trust. Craft your brand story with transparency and credibility regarding the solutions you offer and how you arrived there. Be consistent with this messaging; your customers will see you as dependable and guided by your values.
Whether by providing best practices, lessons learned, or testimonials, make sure your story inspires and expresses mastery of your field beyond your solutions.
Keep Your Hero in Mind
It is crucial to keep your audience (or personas) in mind during messaging. Think of the challenges they go through and the difficulty they can face when seeking a solution that perfectly matches their needs.
Your brand story can be most effective when your readers can relate to it; to relate, they must see themselves as a part. Your company should seek to be a ‘thought leader’ in the space, having lived and worked closely on emerging trends and solutions. Your customers will then trust you to be advisors for their own buyer’s journey. Showing that you are knowledgeable on not only your solutions but also the industry as a whole allows you to weave a narrative of excellence in the space and are, therefore, the best choice for your customers.
A Never-Ending (and Ever-Changing) Story
There is no single recipe for successful brand storytelling. It is not binary. Sure, there is an arc to the original story, but it is best if you use it as a wellspring of ideas, not as definitive.
Stay relevant. Use emerging events or ideas in your industry by weaving them into your already-created narrative. For example, Ai has become a topic of conversation across almost every industry for how it can advance future solutions and create new challenges. Meet these challenges head-on and preemptively put yourself in the narrative rather than scramble to be reactionary.
It also matters in which avenues you decide to distribute your message. A brand story is about the right combination of message, medium, and authority. You can craft the most compelling story imaginable, but if it is sent across the wrong medium, it loses all its power. You need to throw out the bat signal where Batman will actually see it.
Research where your personas are consuming information and which platforms they use for advice. Routinely analyze if the content you produce is reaching the right audiences in the way THEY prefer.
Good Brand Storytelling Will Transform Your Business
Brand storytelling is significant in crafting an intimate bond between businesses and their customers. It is a powerful tool that extends beyond mere marketing strategies, stirring an emotional connection and fostering loyalty. It isn’t just about the product or service but the journey the customer embarks upon with your business.
Navigating this journey requires a formula well-beyond metrics and data points. It calls for crafting a compelling narrative that paints your customers as the heroes of their tales, addressing their challenges, highlighting your solutions, and narrating an inspiring saga that promises a happy ending.
Brand storytelling offers your business a competitive edge and defines your company’s heart and soul. It illustrates what sets your business apart—navigating the customer’s journey, guiding them through their challenges, and assisting them in their victorious narrative.
Brand storytelling, therefore, isn’t just about communicating your business’s goals to the world but about building a resilient, inspiring legacy that’ll continue to echo across the competitive landscape.
Effective brand storytelling is the key to not just surviving in today’s fiercely competitive market but thriving and transforming your business while doing so. So, start penning your saga, for as we’ve seen, good brand storytelling doesn’t just sell a product; it brings the brand to life in the heart and mind of the customer.
“This story has been yours all along, you just didn’t know it.” – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
Ready to embark on a magical journey of narrating your brand’s story? Content Workshop can be your Dumbledore. Let’s have a chat. Your saga begins here!