How to Grow a Brand Through Storytelling

Archie Fiddes
Marketing
 

Stories are incredibly powerful things. They can captivate a crowd, change opinions and even help create emotional bonds between the teller and their audience. People love to be told a story. It adds thrills, excitement and happiness to their everyday lives. This is why most companies now choose storytelling as a vehicle for growing their brand.

Storytelling draws audience attention and gives the brand a depth that couldn’t otherwise be achieved. Through this, stronger connections are created. And there are stats to back up the potency of relaying such stories. Charities that portray themselves through a character-driven story see an average 56% increase in money donated. This shows just how worthwhile a strong emotional connection can prove to be.

Furthermore, it has been shown that if people enjoy a brand story, 55% say that they are more likely to buy the product down the line, 44% will pass the story on and 15% will look to invest in the product immediately. Such is the influence of an effective story when building your brand. And by growing your brand through storytelling, you are more likely to see such results yourself. But what exactly is brand storytelling?

What is brand storytelling?

Brand storytelling is a means of using a narrative to connect your brand with its customers. It builds up the story surrounding your brand and what it represents. Every brand should tell the story of its history, its mission and its inspiration. You can include your brand’s goals and, as with all effective marketing strategies, there should be a focus on your audience.

Set up for story time

Simply put, brand storytelling should be a means of conveying your company’s raison d’être, or reason to be. Gone are the days when sales-heavy jargon was an effective means of converting prospective clients. These days, with the immeasurable plethora of choices available in each market, audiences are on the lookout for something more authentic. That is why telling your brand’s story and adding depth to your company has become an invaluable tool for creating and maintaining strong emotional connections with consumers. And video is fast becoming a popular storytelling mechanism.

How to tell your brand story

Unfortunately, telling your brand story isn’t as simple as reeling off the events that got you where you are today. This would prove not only longwinded but also, lets be honest, a little bit boring. You need to find creative means of conveying your values, providing insight into your company and outlining how it was that you came to be where you are now.

Here is a guide on how to go about telling your own brand story.

Understand your brand

It sounds simple – even patronising – but this is the only place to start when building a brand story. If you don’t truly understand the story of your brand yourself, then how are you going to effectively portray it to others?

Understanding your brand goes beyond simply knowing how you got here and appreciating your key values. You need to find out who you truly are and what you are trying to achieve as a brand before you can move on to creating stories that will help portray this. Start by defining your core principles, articulating your brand messaging and understanding who your target audience is. Once you have a good understanding of what your brand is and what it represents, use this as a strong platform on which to build your story.

Brainstorm ideas

Now that you have a better understanding of your brand, its time to think of ways that you can project this for your audience in a means that is going to resonate with them. To do this, take a step back from your day to day and look at the bigger picture. In doing so, you will be more capable of extracting the necessary information for planning out how to tell your brand story. Brainstorming sessions are the most effective means of doing this.

Post It notes at a brainstorming session

Such sessions are most successful when the conversations are left to flow naturally. However, you also don’t want the meeting to lose all structure. Here are some good points to bear in mind and help the conversation moves in the right direction:

Who you are

Take a look at the people behind the brand. The founders. The staff. The stakeholders. Those who started it and those who run it on a day-to-day basis. Using this insight into the behind-the-scenes workings of your brand can give your content a validating, humanising feel. Use it as inspiration and turn your company culture into captivating content.

What you do

Look at the product or service that your company provides and concoct inventive ways of showcasing it. Using a story of your brand overcoming conflict or adversity is often an effective means of portraying why it is that you are necessary. Depicting your brand in action during a real-life scenario adds a relatability, helping the consumer imagine how your brand would benefit them.

Who you do it for

The audience should always be a core consideration for the content that you create. Audiences enjoy content that educates, entertains and inspires. Try incorporating them, literally or figuratively, into your brand story.

Why you do it

What is the reason that your brand exists? Every brand has a main purpose at their very centre. Your brand story should allude to this purpose throughout. The story is a means of portraying your brand values to the world. Make sure that you do so effectively.

How you do it

Letting your audience observe the inner workings of your brand not only gives them insight and education but verifies your company, making it more trustworthy. Educating consumers on the time, effort and consideration that goes into each of your products can also add value. There are a number of video series genres, including documentaries and interviews, that are an effective means of achieving this.

Your future

Use your story to generate excitement about what is yet to come. Hint at new directions you may head in or how you are planning on developing products down the line. When people are aware of your plans for the future, they are more likely to build a long-term relationship with your brand.

For tips on how to run a brainstorming session, check out our blog on Brainstorming Ideas For Your Content Series.

Vet your ideas

Now that you have a rough guideline of how you are going to tell your brand story, its time to look for holes in your ideas. This may seem counterproductive, but by ensuing that your story is watertight, your brand image will be all the more engaging. So, begin asking all the right questions.

Do your ideas hit the sweet spot between appealing to your audience and being relevant to your brand?

What will make your ideas stand out from the crowd?

What will people take away from your ideas?

Use these sorts of questions to see if you are really getting all that you can out of your brand story. This will be the very core of what you represent, so make sure that you cover all the necessities. By spotting errors, you are in fact fortifying the foundations of your company. This in turn will help your team aim towards building a stronger brand story.

Choose the right format

Creating a successful brand story relies as much on the method as it does the content itself. When selecting the format with which to display the tale of your brand, it is important to choose a style that compliments the story.

Typically, video is a good option for telling your brand story. Not only is it increasing in popularity – with 86% of companies utilising it as a marketing tool in 2021 compared to just 61% in 2016 – but it is also an efficient means of condensing what would be pages of information into a short clip. Video also has the ability to encourage deeper emotional connection in a way that other formats cannot. Emotional contagion – or mirroring emotions seen on screen – has proven a potent video marketing tool for constructing emotional bonds with an audience.

Craft a narrative

Don’t subject your audience to a dull run through of the company’s timeline. Take them on a journey. In doing so you are adding emotional value to your brand story and allowing for a more meaningful connection to be made. This could be a problem/solution story, a before and after comparison or the tale of how your company climbed to its current heights from its underdog roots.

Vintage typewriter

Whatever style you choose, make sure to include the 3 ingredients to a good brand story – a status quo, a conflict and a resolution.

Status quo – The way things were before or during the initial stages of the company’s situation.

Conflict – A disruption of the status quo, encouraging the company to find a solution to the problem.

Resolution – The journey’s end, whereby a remedy for the conflict scenario is brought about and the world is better as a result.

Add your branding

There is no point in creating a brand story if it doesn’t match your company’s overall branding. This is a chance to associate your brand with certain emotions and impressions. Concentrate on both the tone of voice and visual aesthetics. Make sure that they become entwined with everything that represents your brand, such as colour scheme, characters or voice.

Go over the copy and ensure that everything from the voice to the choice of words matches your brand’s core values. In terms of visual aesthetics, make sure that you are using the right colour palettes and characters. In terms of video content this includes both animated company mascots and actors used to display your brand. For example, if you are trying to appeal to a youthful crowd, perhaps think twice about using OAPs in your next video series.

General Tips

Now that you have a good idea of how to build brand story content that will help your company grow, its time to start your journey. But before you put pen to paper and set anything in stone, here are some general tips to consider when creating your story.

Be unique

Don’t follow the crowd. For your brand to truly stand out it has to offer something that people haven’t seen before. Try not to use facts and stats to portray your company’s history. Not only does this make you more likely to get lost amongst the endless stream of competitors, but it doesn’t allow for individuality. People love a good story. In fact, many believe storytelling to be at the very core of what makes us human. Plus, research has shown that storytelling can prove 22x more memorable than facts.

Only your brand has your story. Use it.

Use a captivating storyline that evokes an emotional response from your audience. Emotions are more powerful than logic when it comes to creating strong bonds between brand and consumer. By creating this connection, you will keep the audience’s interest in your brand piqued.

Bright umbrella amongst grey ones

Help build a following

Think about the emotions, values and ideas your brand can offer to your audience. Again, this is about nurturing strong relationships with those who are interested in what you can offer. Try and involve your audience in your brand story. This can be in the form of encouraging interaction or literally including them in your content. Video testimonials are a good example of how you can go about achieving this.

Inclusivity makes your brand experiential. By encouraging it, you are allowing customers to be utterly drawn in by your brand and its values. Through this, your customers will begin to support you in your endeavours and develop a sense of loyalty. This is the sort of following that a brand story should strive to build.

Stay humanised

Staying humanised as a brand is key in the modern era. Gone are the days of gibberish sales pitches and cliché, self-assertive copy. People want to know that their favourite brands care for others. As such, there has been a stark rise in the number of brands supporting good causes. This includes donating to a charity, helping protect the environment or any other selfless act of assistance.

Remarkably only 10% of brands actually carry out these acts to back up their company values. But audiences aren’t gullible and soon suss the frauds out. 56% of people in the USA have stopped buying from brands that they believe to be unethical. This shows the influence that ethics can have on a brand image and therefore why it is so important to get it right.

For more information on growing your brand through storytelling, drop us a line.