Sharing stories has been an integral part of society for centuries. We share information about ourselves to help us relate to others and forge connections. The same applies to businesses. If a company shares insights into their history, the challenges they’ve overcome and their thoughts and ideas through a well-told brand story, customers feel connected to them and are therefore more willing to place trust in their products and services. What’s more, stories are much more memorable than facts alone. In fact, research has found they can be up to 22 times more memorable. This explains why tales are passed down through generations and why we still know and love to share the ancient stories of Greek Mythology, for example. So, crafting your experiences into an engaging story can also help to keep your brand at the forefront of customers’ minds. But, how do you know what to include in your brand story? How do you know what your customers are going to care about? We’ve put together some guidance on crafting a story that is interesting, accessible and of course, authentic.
For a story to create those all-important connections, it should be relatable to its audience. Therefore, the first step in writing a compelling brand story is to know who your audience is. If you have a good understanding of your customers, you’ll find it much easier to create a story that truly resonates with them. Learn how old they are, where they live, what they like to do in their free time and what kind of jobs they have. This will all inform how you present your story to ensure maximum engagement.
To give your story the relatability factor, it should be very much personality-driven. The focus should be on the people behind your brand and their experiences, rather than on the products or services that you sell. Think back over the history of your business – the ups and the downs, the times when everything seemed like it was going wrong and the times when you’ve had massive breakthrough moments. When considering all the pivotal turning points that helped get your business to where it is today, think about how your target audience might relate to them. Stories that trigger an emotional response, a sense of familiarity or significant learning experience will be more appealing and memorable for your audience.
For many companies, the heart of their story will lie at the conception of their idea. This may have been an event, a conversation or some other experience that prompted the founder to identify an issue requiring a solution. Think about what it was that prompted you to start your business. Was it something you experienced? Or maybe a story you heard sparked an idea in your mind? Think about the needs you aimed to fulfil, why this was important to you back then and why it still is now. Your story should provide an answer to the question: “Why does this business exist?” The answer to this can usually be found at the early stages when your business was being held up by an idea alone, long before it became a fully-functioning, profit-making operation.
You probably started your business with some idea of what values were important to you; however, these may have evolved over time and become better developed as your business has grown. Company values can drive the success of your business, especially if your employees and customers relate to them. Therefore, these can also form a great starting point for your brand story. Think about where your company values have arisen from. Did you have an interesting, unusual or eye-opening experience while setting up your business which has led you to take a firm stance on environmental and/ or social issues? Many businesses win customers through their strong values, so narrating these in your brand story can be a great way to engage with your audience.
A brand story should give your business a purpose. Once you have formulated a story, you need to integrate it into the way you market your business. Show how the values that drove you at the very beginning are still upheld in your operations today. Demonstrate how the key milestones in your journey have been influential in improving the way you do business. Discuss how the major lessons you learnt while growing the business still resonate with your employees now. Use social media to highlight your story and relate it to the present-day operations of your business. The most memorable brand stories will be intertwined with every action that the company makes and every message that they share.
One company with a well-known brand story is Patagonia. Its founder, Yvon Chouinard, was an avid climber who noticed the equipment that he (and many other climbers) used was causing damage to the rock faces. In an effort to protect the landscape that he loved, he began producing his own environmentally-friendly equipment, later expanding into clothing too. This love for and desire to protect the environment still informs the ethos of the business today, making it a firm favourite for environmental activists. While their story begins with a simple idea, it is the values behind this story that make them so successful. These are values that Patagonia uphold in every action they take, even pledging 1% of all sales to the preservation and restoration of the environment to offset any negative impacts caused by the operations of their business.
A brand story is a very powerful marketing tool but only if you can successfully engage your audience using emotion and personality. When crafting your brand story, you need to ensure that your target audience will relate to it. Discussing your company’s origins and values are great ways to achieve this while relating it to the present-day operations of your business is also important. Remember that your brand’s story hasn’t ended yet. It is constantly being written and it is possible that major changes on the road ahead may impact your business philosophy further. Your brand story should be honest and authentic. It takes time to craft a story with both interest and meaning but if it resonates with your customers, you will create trust, loyalty and a much more memorable brand.