Whether they’re written in hieroglyphics on a cave wall, told while sitting around a campfire or posted on Facebook, stories connect us.
We have direct access to communicate with more people than ever before through social media, and utilizing tools such as hashtags and online groups allows us to find people with similar interests all across the globe. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, we may actually make a real connection.
Although technology has advanced how we tell a story, the power of storytelling has not been lost over time. You can tap into this power with your brand as well.
Connect to your customers through storytelling.
Why tell your brand’s story?
Forbes magazine recently interviewed James Warren, founder & CEO of Share More Stories and senior director of brand strategy for a Richmond marketing firm. Warren explained three reasons why companies should tell their story:
Connection - Letting your customers know who you are, what your mission is and what your brand represents allows them to feel like they know you. This creates a connection between consumer and company that cannot be achieved without a good story.
Learning Tool - Storytelling helps your audience learn about your business. Warren explains, “Storytelling can be a powerful tool that enables marketers to understand what is going on in the marketplace and what that means for the customer, consumer, society, brand, and company.”
Tactical Tool - With so many options out there, storytelling is a new and different way for your customer to see your brand. Through social media, advertising, blogs and more, your story can make your business stand out from the crowd in a variety of ways.
Discovering your story
Think about some of the most memorable stories from brands you know and love. What made them great? You most likely felt connected to them because the best stories come from creating a deeper understanding of who or what these companies represent—and how you’re a part of it. These stories tend to have several key things in common: authenticity, uniqueness, consistency, relevancy, and suspense (they make you want to know what will happen next).
Apple has done an exemplary job at creating a brand story. When you think about their story, who can’t relate to two guys tinkering around in their garage building their dream? It makes them real to the customer. Over the years, Apple has continued to evolve and build their brand. Now many of us look to Apple to let us know what the latest and greatest technology will be as they work to keep themselves on the cutting edge. They keep us on the hook with what the next iPhone, Macbook, iPod, iTunes, or Apple TV will feature, so much so that we can’t wait to get our hands on the latest “i” product. From their humble beginnings, they made their American dream come true, and their brand story invites us all to be a part of it.
Creating Your Story
What is your brand’s story?
Take a look at how you got started. Bring the audience into your world for a moment. Let them connect with you through your history or your mission. Then welcome them to be part of it.
How is your story unique?
Look for how your brand is different from your competitors. Find what sets you apart from the competition and build your story from that perspective.
Why do you do what you do?
When you started or got into your business, what was the reason? If you’re the owner of the business, was it driven by passion or necessity? Look at the business today and discover if the “why” has changed, and how that changes your story.
Is your brand relevant, or do you need to shift your thinking to more modern times?
Dig deep and get real. If you are stuck in your ways and are no longer relevant, it’s time for a change. Change can be scary, but it can also lead to growth. Perhaps your product is outdated or maybe it’s just your method of reaching your audience that needs to change. Put your company under a microscope, figure out where the change really is needed and adjust to meet the times.
How to tell your story
Now that you’ve discovered your story, how do you tell it?
Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand and bestselling author, has what he calls the SB7, which are seven things that happen in every great brand story.
A character is introduced.
The character has a problem.
The character meets a guide.
The guide presents a plan for the character’s problem.
There is a call to action for the character to act on the plan.
The results of resolving the problem as well as the results of failing to solve the problem are presented.
The character makes his or her own decision on what to do.
If you create a story that follows these steps, Miller believes that your story will be clear to the consumer. He also encourages companies to shift their thinking and make the customer the hero of the story rather than the brand itself being the hero—the brand instead takes the role of the guide. This allows the consumer to feel cared for by your company: they have a problem, and you have the solution.
Where you tell your story
A wide variety of different venues allow people to learn your story. Finding the right place to tell your story can broaden your audience and introduce you to new customers, whether it’s a billboard on the highway, a quick two-sentence tweet, a FB story or television commercial. You only get a few moments, if not seconds in many cases, to relay your story, so where and how you tell it is imperative. Get to know your target audience and how they are most likely to engage with your brand. For example, an older audience may be more likely to find your brand through a magazine or television ad, whereas a younger audience is more likely to find you on social media.
When to tell your story
The answer to this question is simple: now! Are you ready to get your story out there? Is it time to change your story? Not sure where to start?
Let the marketing and branding experts at Jennasis help you write your story and build your brand.
Contact us today to get you on your way: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marcia Hudgel has been writing stories and poems since she was very young, and has honed the ability to write in a variety of styles, which she has done for a number of websites over the past few years. When not writing, she enjoys practicing and teaching yoga, mindfulness and meditation, especially to women in addiction recovery.