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THE ESSENTIALS OF BRAND STORYTELLING

18th April 2024

People don’t just buy products or services

People buy people… and people are made up of stories.

Studies have shown that 55% of people are more likely to buy a product if they love the story behind a brand.

But why do brand stories matter? What makes a brand story compelling and engaging?

What is a brand story?

As a business, or individual, your brand’s story should be a complete picture of who you are and why you do what you do – what is your mission and vision.

It encompasses the facts of your brand, but also the feelings created by your brand. It should be the foundation of every aspect of your content marketing. Without a brand narrative, your marketing will be typically vague and inconsistent.

Notice how we’ve not mentioned what you do here.

In his book and hugely popular TedTalk, Start With Why, Simon Sinek argues that most organisations communicate from the outside in.

They start with what it is they do, before going into the how. They rarely address the why. But the why is so important when it comes to telling stories and leveraging human appeal.

Sinek argues that inspired leaders and organisations communicate from the inside out, starting with the why, and then moving to how, before finally addressing what it is that they do.

“With everything we do, we aim to challenge the status quo. We aim to think differently. Our products are user-friendly, beautifully designed, and easy to use. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?”

This example, from Sinek, concisely shows this process in action. It is a reference to Apple and the way it starts with Why in its communications.

The theory emphasizes that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

By starting with the “why,” organisations can differentiate themselves from their competitors, attract like-minded individuals who share their beliefs, and foster a loyal customer base or following.

This is where storytelling comes into play.

Why does brand storytelling matter?

Brand storytelling is an art form that can be traced back to as early as 1895.

This was when a farming magazine called ‘The Furrow,’ leveraged compelling brand stories as a way to connect with their target audience.

John Deere’s magazine is considered to be the first example of corporate storytelling. But since these early days, brands have continued to recognise the amazing power that stories have.

Fundementally people like stories, because they can create emotional connections with them. This connection then creates brand differentiation, humanisation, memorability and engagement.

These are incredibly important elements not only for building brand authenticity but for keeping a steady pipeline of engagement in a world where a lot of businesses are pushing a product or service.

Web or Funnel?

As more people are driven to make connections online, more brands and businesses use that online presence for reach and engagement.

This kind of activity would previously have been referred to as the marketing funnel. But that’s something of an outmoded term now.

The funnel is now more of a web.

The sheer volume of marketing communications coming the way of a consumer is staggering. From Google Search, to Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Blogs, News and more the consumer has never been bombarded with more information.

The term web is quite an apt one in this sense. Because the web of social and marketing comms is now so laden with competition, it easily becomes overly exhausting for the potential customer.

All it can take is one element of that web to break, for the whole thing to fall down.

A lot of brands have a story to tell. But the only way to create a story that will resonate with your customers is to understand the art of storytelling.

Storytelling: back to basics

Great stories are considered as such for several reasons. They take you on a journey. Great stories are relatable, they can inspire, engage, can even affect change. A good story is always:

  • Entertaining
  • Emotional
  • Relatable
  • Memorable
  • Believable
  • Engaging
  • Simple

Successful brand storytelling always has several key elements that create a compelling narrative.

An authentic story will help you articulate brand messaging, brand values and your brand’s mission.

Finding your voice

How can you leverage the power of storytelling for your brand? Let’s start with the basics

Define your brand

Before you can tell your story, you have to know your story.  Many organisations try to tell their brand story before they understand who they are and why their audience should care. It’s much easier to tell your brand’s story when you figure out:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you do
  3. Who you do it for
  4. Why you do it
  5. How you do it
  6. Why you’re unique

An essential part of any brand story starts, as you’d expect, at the beginning.

What is your brand’s purpose, why do you do what you do?  Why does your brand exist in the first place?

Identifying the answers to these questions will help you understand more about your brand. Once you establish your own brand’s identity, you can begin to tell your story.

Create consistent messaging

It’s important to have a clear and consistent message that emanates throughout your communication. But try to stay clear of sounding like you’re selling something…  show, don’t tell.

When you show who you are as a brand vs what you’re selling, you’re creating that emotional connection and brand differentiation. So, when it does come the time to drop a sales message,  you have that preexisting engagement and customer motivation.

Get to know your audience

You can really only achieve this if you know your audience.  To craft a compelling story that will speak to your customers, you need to properly understand them.

What motivates them, what inspires them, what moves them

Ask yourself who your customers are and why they should care about your brand. Define your buyer personas and think about the kinds of stories they want to hear.

Understanding your audience is imperative to not just your brand story, but your marketing strategy as a whole.

Shape the narrative

With your messaging shaped and your audience profiled, it’s time to define your narrative.

How do you want your audience to react? Do you want them to feel entertained? Informed? Educated?

Understanding these points will help you form your narrative and allow you to paint a picture of the kinds of stories and content that you should be producing.

Telling an authentic brand story goes beyond the ‘about us’ page on your website.

Instead, it’s interwoven into every aspect of communications

You’ll find that great brand stories are permeated through a brand’s social media posts, blogs, emails and website.

In today’s competitive and crowded marketplace, brand storytelling has become a powerful tool for companies to create meaningful connections with their customers, differentiate themselves, and establish a strong and memorable brand identity

Do you want to experience the value of great storytelling? Talk to the team at AMBITIOUS to discover how we can get more people talking about your brand [email protected] or call us on 0117 905 1177.

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About AMBITIOUS

AMBITIOUS by name and by nature, we are a PR led communications agency that delivers integrated strategic communications - online, offline and everywhere in-between. Proud to be crowned winners of The Drum Magazine's RAR Best PR Agency of the Year.

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