What is brand storytelling?

Storytelling is simply one of the best ways to communicate, which is why it has played an important role across cultures for thousands of years. 

Brand storytelling is no different. It is an essential asset within your brand identity and communications toolbox; you need good stories to help define your brand in a way that will attract both customers and employees.

At summary level, brand stories are best kept short and sweet like an ‘elevator pitch’. Apple does it well – in just two sentences you get a flavour of the founders’ youth,  the reason for the company’s existence and the drive of their innovative, visionary mission. 

Apple Computers, Inc. was founded on April 1, 1976, by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who brought to the new company a vision of changing the way people viewed computers; they wanted to make computers small enough for people to have them in their homes or offices”.

In essence, a brand story is about purpose and how you bring your brand to life; at a more detailed level, it will hook people into your brand’s unique characteristics and services. What a brand story is not, is a list of product features or irrelevant sales information. 

Why does brand storytelling matter? 

  1. Stories grab attention

Marketing communications are interruptive at best and disruptive at worst. This is why a good brand story that grabs and holds attention is a winner; it can be humorous, serious, happy or sad and can be told in many different ways from voice and video to graphics, text and live experiences. 

To make the most of your brand story, start by revisiting your brand purpose, vision and values and turn that into story form; as an example one of the most interesting organisations we have worked with on branding is The Purposeful Company whose whole brand story is embedded in their purpose.   

  1. Stories sell better

Think of brand stories as one of your best assets within the whole brand identity creation; it is integral to the whole look and tone of the brand which is key to attracting new customers at the start of the marketing or sales process. At this stage a lot of decisions are driven by emotions and appealing in this way will almost certainly trigger interest and consideration amongst the right target customers.

Stories don’t just create interest. When skillfully used they give context and meaning to the brand, making your messages much easier to remember and to share. Brand storytelling is the perfect tool for marketing by word of mouth and for leading prospects towards the next step.  

  1. Brand stories create a competitive edge 

With so much choice in the marketplace and with so many companies offering only marginal differences from their competitors, you can choose to use your brand narrative to differentiate your market position. Assuming you’ve worked to deliver some unique points of difference, make them a focus of your story; don’t bury them in a long narrative about the services you offer that are no different or better from competitors.  For Mimi’s Hotel Soho London, the simplicity of the wording is in sync with the photographic style and together they epitomise the hotel’s unique tone of chic, laid back luxury experience.

A consistent brand story is especially effective for small independent businesses and start-ups. It’s a chance for a brand to punch above its weight and get across genuine flexibility, friendliness and accessibility. 

  1. Brand stories entice us to join 

Nike is a great example of a lifestyle brand that customers choose over and over again, simply because they want to be part of the #justdoit culture.  

A brand story that resonates is very enticing. We all like to find people, brands and products that chime with our innate beliefs and values. It’s human nature to want to mix with the right tribe and most people enjoy the sense of belonging. 

A brand story is a perfect vehicle to set out the tone of your brand values and beliefs and to bring new prospects into the fold as a result. Like are drawn to like, particularly in the case of lifestyle brands, and the best brands have the ability to hone their brand story into selling a unique brand experience rather than any particular products or services.  

  1. Brand stories attract the right talent 

Buying into the right brands is just as important to employees as to customers and other communities. A brand story to back up recruitment is a great asset, especially today. 

Ethical business practice, brand purpose, sustainability credentials and giving back to society are high on the agenda for most of the best talent around. 

For employees, that feeling of being part of the right tribe can be critical to productivity; in return, the brand wins loyalty and great advocates who will spread the brand story in a very natural way.  

Find out more about the Gen Z point of view on this. 

How to tell good brand stories 

Start your story by picturing your target audience, as understanding them is fundamental.  Next, write your story briefly in a few well-chosen words and build from there, keeping it simple at first.  

Once you have the basics written down, there are a few more things to remember: 
  • Bring your brand story to life; it needs personality, emotion, style. 
  • Quality vs quantity. The former is always best
  • Take your pick when it comes to execution – video, audio, text, images, events, social, blogs, Q&As ….
  • Keep the call to action simple, manage responses, maintain a dialogue.  
  • Build a storytelling culture; from the CEO down all should own it.
  • Encourage the natural storytellers in the company.

Finally, authenticity is a must. To be real and transparent, your narrative should reflect things that are inherently true about your brand, which in turn should uphold the truths in your business. By going back to the brand vision and values for direction, you can ensure that your brand stories are consistent and set the right tone.  

Brand stories are good for business  

Whatever your brand, one thing is certain: in today’s crowded landscape, most discerning customers and employees do not buy into just anyone or anything. This is as true for B2B business as it is for B2C. 

So, what a good brand story will help to do is:
  • Establish your brand purpose, values and mission
  • Offer the reader or listener an experience not just a transaction
  • Entice them to want that experience 
  • Encourage them to join in by buying, following or signing up. 
  • Boost your lead generation 

A memorable brand story becomes an amazing asset to any company or organisation; it builds trust and creates lasting relationships, loyal customers and loyal employees – and in so doing increases the market value of your business.

Brand storytelling from the professionals 

If you would like help to get started on your brand story – or if you would like to work with brand experts who can help from start to finish on your brand strategy, brand story, brand identity and roll out, please get in touch!  Here are a few examples of our brand work.

For a free initial consultation email us at hello@imlondon.co.uk and we will be delighted to arrange a meeting or video call to get started. 

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