Updated Jan 15 2024
Everyone loves a good story, from movies and TV shows to popular books. Yet, in their quest to capture an audience's attention, many business owners forget the power of brand stories.
Think of it from a customer's perspective - these days, most of us encounter the marketing efforts of countless companies daily. While few people are likely to recall statistics or even well-crafted product points, it's much easier to remember stories.
One study even found that brand storytelling can boost sales by up to 30%. Join us for a closer look at why crafting a powerful brand story can help you connect with your target audience, build brand loyalty, and stand out from the status quo.
A successful brand story invites customers to connect with a business more emotionally.
Sharing your brand story is a great way to highlight the values and goals your company still embraces today.
We'll discuss how to write a brand story, from what topics to include to how to structure your story to create a compelling narrative.
Brand storytelling is all about regaling potential customers with the tale of how your company came to be. The most compelling brand stories shine a light on the company's origins and the driving factors behind its core values.
Crafting your origin story into a brand narrative is one of the easiest ways to remove your "sales" hat and show new customers who you are and what inspires you. While even the most clever sales tactics can be hit or miss, something in our DNA is instantly drawn to human stories.
Researchers have discovered that people almost always find it easier to connect with and remember information from a compelling narrative. Why?
Because a heartfelt story can cut through the natural barriers we've all developed to survive in a world full of marketing campaigns without going broke. A great brand story that can help forge an emotional connection with customers, build their trust, and ultimately create loyalty.
While brand storytelling is a great addition to any content marketing strategy, it's important to understand that it's far more than a sales gimmick. Humans have been telling stories since time began, so most people can spot an insincere tale incredibly quickly.
Writing a brand story is an opportunity to share the challenges, triumphs, and inspiration that went into shaping your brand identity. Let's take a closer look at some of the elements that go into crafting a strong brand story.
Why does your brand exist? While you may be tempted to spout out your company's tagline, take a moment to travel back in time to when your company was no more than a great idea.
Remember, we're crafting an entire brand story, and all great stories have a protagonist. Considering that we're telling a brand story, our heroes will be your company's founders or creators.
To keep things simple, we'll explain how to write a brand story for a company you created. However, if that isn't the case, you can always use the following questions and prompts as interview or research questions.
What first inspired you to turn your idea into a reality?
What was it that you truly believed that you could do better than other brands?
Did you want to offer a solution to a set of pain points that you experienced yourself?
What were your goals at the time, and how did they relate to your brand's mission?
How does the beginning of your own story translate into your brand's values and company culture today?
Innovative products or services are at the heart of all great brand success stories. Figuring out how to weave your products into your story is a fantastic way to spark an emotional reaction that customers can attach to your product.
Consider, for instance, one of the greatest brand story examples of all time:
While taking a business class at Stanford, an athlete named Phil was inspired by his old coach Bill's habit of optimizing the shoes of the runners on his team. While in Japan on a world tour, Phil presented himself to a Japanese running shoe manufacturer, claiming to be a representative for a company he made up on the spot.
The company expressed interest, so Phil and Bob ended up actually launching a business that sold Japanese running shoes out of the trunk of Phil's car. Within a few years, the pair became so successful that they launched their own shoe brand, Nike, whose trademarked swoosh is now instantly recognizable to customers worldwide.
The Nike origin story is a great example of how the quest for a game-changing product is often at the heart of why a brand exists. Phil Knight and Bob Bowerman spotted a potential opportunity to solve a problem most runners didn't even know they had and ended up developing a solution worth billions.
The importance of understanding your target audience comes down to the fact that there are many different ways to tell the same story. For instance, we all know the tale of Little Red Riding Hood.
But did you know that researchers have uncovered nearly 60 different versions of the story from countries all over the world, some dating back over 1000 years? Within the past few decades alone, you'll find that Little Red Riding Hood has inspired plenty of different tales, from kids' comedies to grown-up movies where Red is a beautiful young woman instead of a little girl.
By getting on the same page as your target market, you'll be able to deliver your brand story in a way that appeals to your audience. Look no further for a great example than Lemonade, an insurance company developed specifically for people who really hate dealing with insurance.
When you arrive on the Lemonade website, you'll be prompted to "forget everything you know about insurance." The company continues to appeal to its target market throughout the site by using sentences that are short, to the point, and incredibly easy to understand.
In 1949, Joseph Campbell originally published the fascinating book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he broke down how every story ever told follows the same structure. Known as the "hero's journey," the story structure can be divided into multiple sections and subsections - but for the sake of time, we'll use a broad three-act structure.
Even in its simplest form, you'll quickly see how the hero's journey can be applied to everything from ancient fairytales and myths to the films and movies of today. Telling your brand story using the time-honored structure is a great way to hook your audience and trigger the desired emotional response.
In act one of every story, the hero is going about their business, living the same old boring life they always have. Then suddenly, they experience a call to adventure that prompts them to leave the safety of the status quo behind in search of something more.
There's a good reason why many brands set the beginning of their company story in a time before the brand existed. To weave a good brand story, it's important to remind the audience of what life was like before your product came into being.
Act one is also where the protagonist, usually the company's creator, realizes that a need isn't being filled or something that needs changing. It could be where the high-powered businesswoman who sees her company's waste reports leaves her job behind to embark on a mission to sell eco-friendly products.
Or where a young Swedish man named Ingvar Kamprad, who grew up on a farm called ElmtAryd, decides to upend the furniture industry by offering high-quality DIY furniture for a low cost. This particular young man decided to combine his initials with those of his farm to pursue a crazy dream now known as IKEA.
What form did your own call to adventure take? What was it about the world that you wanted to make better with your products?
Ever seen a movie where the hero sets out on an adventure, encounters exactly no problems, and returns a triumphant hero? There's a good reason that the answer is almost certainly a resounding Nope!
Conflict is an essential part of every great narrative, and act two tends to be when it arrives in full force. Compelling stories always present plenty of obstacles (the more harrowing, the better) so that the audience can form an emotional connection with the hero as they conquer them.
That's why it's important not to shy away from past struggles when telling your brand story. After all, the only thing the world loves more than success stories is comeback stories.
There's something incredibly inspiring about the story of a struggling writer who battles depression, blossoming into world-renown author J.K. Rowling. Or the tale of a man named Steve Jobs being fired from his own company, only to be reinstated and launch it to greatness.
Rest assured that you don't have to share your most personal struggles to write a compelling brand story. The obstacles you recount might mention your past struggles to find brand advocates, financial support, or anything in between.
In act three of every great story, the hero achieves their goal and transforms themselves by the lessons they learned. They then transform their original world by returning a better version of themselves.
Great brand stories follow through by demonstrating how the brand has changed the world, an industry, or a community. Some companies create a compelling brand story by demonstrating how their products have literally disrupted the status quo:
Robinhood, an online brokerage, changed the financial game forever by offering commission-free stock trading - a move many other brokerages have since been forced to follow.
Netflix introduced the world to streaming, which turned the movie rental and cable TV industries on their heads.
Airbnb made it possible to turn virtually any home or room into a vacation rental.
Outdoor life brand Patagonia changed the game with their Worn Wear program, which sells refurbished used gear to allow more customers to enjoy high-end products.
Okay, so not every personal brand will have such a dramatic payoff, which is perfectly fine. The point is to create an effective brand story by describing why your company set out to do what it does and the positive change that resulted.
For many brands, it's simply a matter of making life more convenient or enjoyable in some way. The goal is to create content that highlights how your products or brand values help enhance your customers' lives.
Now that you're more familiar with brand storytelling, here are a few tips on branding itself. While your brand's story introduces your audience to your mission and values, creating branded content can help establish your business's unique personality.
Think of brand guidelines as your brand's image or presentation. Brand guidelines include everything from your trademark color scheme, logo, and fonts to the design elements and voice you consistently use.
If your brand was a person, what type of personality would they have? Would they be playful and colorfully dressed or be the sleek, professional type who looked great in a business suit?
Be sure to consider both your own personality and that of your target audience because once you choose a brand personality, it's important to stay consistent. After all, Buzzfeed probably isn't going to use the same marketing tactics as the Wall Street Journal - nor should they.
Branding aims to create content that's instantly recognizable to your audience. Be sure you also consider your brand story, mission, and values when crafting the right brand identity for your company.
Connecting to your audience with a great brand story is only the beginning of forging a relationship! Make sure you take the time to interact with your loyal customers through social media, email, and customer support.
While it may not be possible to forge a close bond with every customer, simply liking a comment or offering a solution to any complaints can go a long way. Email newsletters are also a great way to stay in touch, gather feedback, and send out promos or discounts.
Sharing your brand's story in an authentic, compelling way is a great way to connect with customers on a more personal level. Looking for a great way to sell custom products that are sure to build customer trust and loyalty?
Check out Gelato's print on demand services, which offer a reliable, sustainable solution to designing custom products without ever having to deal with inventory or sourcing materials. Gelato even offers branded packaging to help you express your brand story and personality with every shipment.
A brand story introduces customers to the events and inspiration behind the brand's creation. It allows businesses to connect emotionally with their audience and highlight the brand's values, mission, and purpose.
Like any compelling story, a brand story has a beginning, middle, and end. You can't go wrong with the following three-act structure:
Introduce the characters and status quo.
Present conflict and obstacles.
Highlight how the story's successful resolution has changed the world.
Start with a brainstorming session during which you write down the inspiration for your brand and what you hoped to achieve by creating it. Then consider how your product fits into the story and the best way to deliver your brand story to your target audience.
Then, create three act outlines and begin grouping ideas under headings like "status quo, conflict, and resolution." Finally, craft your narrative into a unique brand story with your target audience in mind.
You won't have to look far to find great brand story examples, as almost every successful business has one! Do a little experiment and head to your favorite company's website, click the "about us" section, and check out the brand story the business likely offers.