Marketers today have more opportunities than ever to tell brand stories on platforms with global reach. Yet, today’s hyper-connected social consumer is also gaining more and more control over the information they see and share. So how do you present your brand as worthy of the time and attention of audiences who have no patience for “branded content” that feels like advertising? You captivate them with a compelling story.
What exactly is a brand story?
Your brand story is the outworking your brand’s identity, its mission and the strategy to fulfill that mission. It’s how you frame what sets you apart from all the others. It's the vehicle through which you translate your brand’s value. It’s your blueprint for building something people want to buy into, because it’s something they genuinely care about. Something that can stand the test of time, because it's something much bigger than the brand itself. In short, your brand story is the essence of your brand – manifested in a form that your audience finds irresistible.
A true brand story originates from the life-giving, blood-pumping, purpose-driven, emotional heart of a brand. It’s the enduring philosophy that consistently gives life to all your brand communications – and rhythmically supplies the numerous stories a successful brand must tell, over and over again, and in different ways on different platforms, throughout its existence.
An effective brand story is inspired, imaginative and authentic. It includes the same elements as those you experience in that mesmeric book you can’t put down, the riveting film that has you on the edge of your seat, in eager anticipation of what might happen next, the cult classic you watch – even though you’ve already seen it a bazillion times and the song that makes your heart sing. A successful brand story engages the audience emotionally, touches them in a personal way and beckons them to embark on an incredible journey.
Help your audience find their story in your story.
For better or worse, the stories people tell about your brand, based on their perception of your interactions, shape your narrative. Like it or not, your brand story encompasses a complete 360-degree perspective of facts, feelings, experiences and interpretations accumulated over time. Everything you do (or don’t do), each facet of your brand, from the colors in your logo, the layout of your website, the quality of your packaging, the excellence of your customer service, the speediness of your shipping and the actual worth of your products and services to the staff you hire (and choose to let go of) influences your audience’s opinions about your brand, and thus, your brand story. Therefore, every single element of your business should reflect the truth about your brand back to your audience.
Your aptitude for revealing the truth of your brand – the beating heart of your business – hinges upon your ability to discover (not manufacture) it in the first place. It starts with knowing who you are, and fully grasping your mission. WHY do you exist? What were you created to change? What do you stand for? What core values power all of your daily operations? Who is your target audience? Do they identify with your principles? And most importantly, what is their story? What are their hopes and dreams? If you can tell the story of your audience, then you can tell your story.
A remarkable brand story revolves around empowering your audience in their story. This involves constantly finding new, interesting and emotive ways to validate and affirm your customers in their own stories. Your story will resonate deeply with them when it is clearly relevant to their lives. The better you help your customers see themselves in your story, the greater the emotional connection they will feel to your brand.
In order to strengthen the bond between your story and theirs, you must commit to developing and nurturing meaningful relationships with your customers, earning their trust, rewarding their loyalty and engaging them where they are, where they need you to be and with the types of content and experiences they deem truly valuable. If you do this well, you will inspire your customers to action.
When your customers really feel like the heroes of your story, more often than not, they will own the role. This is the thrilling climax of your narrative, when your audience feels compelled to actively participate in the co-creation as well as the “happy ending” of your brand story. It’s when your customers will choose to go the extra mile in their journey with you. Because they have been gripped by a heart-felt mission, they will passionately live out their allegiance to your brand, voluntarily waving your banner high and helping to spread your brand story far and wide. Because, after all, it is now their story too - and that’s the sort of thing heroes do!