In this article, we’ll explore the definition of brand storytelling, how to create an effective brand story and some examples of brands that are doing it right!
Storytelling defeats selling. Contrary to what a lot of people think, it’s not humor and other attention-grabbing tactics that make brands successful. Stories do.
In fact, a 2014 John Hopkins study on Super Bowl ads revealed that viewers remember the ads with the best narratives, not necessarily the funniest ones. They favored ads with a beginning, middle and end—in other words, ads that told a story.
The power of stories is no secret to marketers. And whether you’ve been in the business for years or are just starting out, understanding how to tell your brand story may just be the key to your success.
Why Your Brand Story Matters
Before we get into the specifics, let’s first explore why your brand story is so important.
It’s What Sets Your Brand Apart
Lots of other brands will be selling the same thing you are. In order to stand out, you need to find a way to connect with your audience on a deeper level—and that’s where your story comes in.
Your story is what makes your brand unique. It’s the emotional appeal that will help you forge a connection with your customers and make them loyal to your brand.
It Helps You Build Trust
In addition to setting you apart from the competition, your story also helps you build trust with potential customers. In a world where anyone can say anything online, it’s important to be transparent about who you are and what you stand for.
It Makes Your Brand More Human
Every person has a narrative to tell. And every business is made up of people. So when you tell your brand story, you’re essentially humanizing your business. This can go a long way in building trust and rapport with your target audience as you continuously grow your brand.
It’s the Foundation of Your Content Marketing Strategy
Having a brand story can make marketing so much easier. With an established narrative that defines your brand’s identity, you have a go-to source for all your content marketing needs. From blog posts to social media updates, everything you produce should tie back into your story in some way.
Your Guide to Crafting an Engaging Brand Story
Alright, it’s time to learn how to craft a brand story that will engage your audience, build trust, and set you apart from the competition.
The process of creating a brand story may seem intimidating, but it’s actually not as complicated as it seems. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to getting you started:
Start With Your Why
Go back to the basics and determine your brand’s purpose. Why does your business exist in the first place? What made you start it? And what drives you to continue working hard every day?
These are the foundation questions that will help guide the development of your brand story. Part of telling and selling your story to your audience is sharing what’s in it for them or even the world at large.
For example, the popular shoe company TOMS was founded on the principle of equity and giving back. For every purchase made, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to someone in need. And their story starts with that simple premise—meeting the needs of others.
With a clear why or purpose, you give your brand story a direction and make it easier to determine what needs to be included.
Define What You Do and How You Do It
After you’ve determined your purpose, you need to explain what it is your business actually does. This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to be as clear and concise as possible.
But what will truly make this part personal and unique to your brand is the how. How do you go about achieving your purpose? How do you serve your customers? Again, this is where your story can shine.
For example, if you sell eco-friendly tote bags with the purpose of spreading awareness about environmental issues and other social causes, you could share how your bags are made from sustainable materials and how a portion of the proceeds goes to support different charities.
Name the Who’s in Your Brand Story
Every great story has a character or two we can root for. When you’re crafting your brand story, you’ll also want to focus on the who’s.
The who’s could be you, your partners, or even your customers. It’s important to share not just who is involved in your story but also how they’re connected to it.
For example, going back to the eco-friendly bag example, you could highlight your chosen maker or designer and how they share your same passion for environmental causes. You could also share about yourself and what these issues mean to you on a personal level.
Where Do You See Your Brand Going?
Once the why, what, how, and who have been established, it’s time to start thinking about the future. Where do you see your brand going? What impact do you want to make?
It’s important to have a destination or goal in mind so that you can work towards it. This part of your story will also give your audience something to look forward to and get excited about.
For example, if you want your brand to be the leading voice in sustainable fashion, you could share your plans for expanding your product line to include more sustainable materials and partnering with like-minded charities.
Find Your Voice
After identifying all the necessary elements, it’s time to start putting it all together and finding your brand’s voice.
Your brand’s voice is how you communicate your story to your audience. It should be authentic, unique, and reflective of your brand’s values. Do you want your brand to come across as playful and fun? Or serious and informative?
Your voice should be consistent across all your marketing channels—from your website copy to the captions you write on social media. This will help create a cohesive brand identity that your audience can easily recognize and connect with.
Make It Visual
Apart from your marketing or ad copies, your brand story should also reflect in the visuals you use.
Your visual elements, such as your logo, color scheme, and overall design should all work together to communicate your story. You can also use images and videos to help tell your story in a more engaging and impactful way.
For example, if you want to communicate that your brand is inspired by your travels, you could use images of different landmarks or cultures in your marketing materials. Or if you want to show that your brand is modern and forward-thinking, you could use clean lines and a minimalistic color palette in your designs.
Find the Right Channels and Strategies
Now that you have your story down, it’s time to start sharing it with the world. But before you do, you’ll need to determine the platforms and formats that will work best for your story and audience.
To give you an idea, here are some common channels and strategies brands use to share their story:
Your Store Website’s About Page
One of the most common and straightforward places to share your brand story is on your store website’s About page.
Your About page should give visitors a quick overview of who you are, what you do, and why you do it. You can also use this page to share your brand’s history, mission, and values.
Make sure to keep your About page updated with any changes or new developments in your story so that your audience is always in the loop. For instance, if you’ve started working with an organization that supports the same causes as your brand, be sure to mention it on your About page and share some visuals that help tell the story.
Video ads are among the best ways to capture your audience’s attention and connect with them on an emotional level.
With video ads, you can show, rather than tell, your brand story in a way that is engaging and visually appealing. Just think of the heartfelt commercials you see on TV during the holidays—these are all examples of brands using video ads to tell their story and connect with their audience.
Social Media Campaigns
Social media is another great platform for sharing your brand story. You can use social media to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your brand, share your company values, and provide updates on new products or initiatives.
Use Instagram Story and Story Highlights to share how your brand started with short clips and throwback photos. You can also run social media campaigns that tie in with your brand story, such as a charity drive or a contest that encourages customers to share their own stories.
Blogging is also a great way to share your brand story and connect with your shoppers in an informative and engaging way.
Your blog posts can be used to share the story behind your products, give an inside look at your company, or provide helpful tips and advice related to your industry. You can also use your blog to share customer stories and testimonials, which can be very powerful in convincing other shoppers to buy from you.
It Doesn’t End There…
Telling your brand story isn’t a one-time thing—it’s an ongoing process that should be a part of all your marketing efforts.
The most important thing is to be consistent with the story you’re telling and make sure that it is always reflective of your brand identity. As your brand grows and changes, so should your story.
Brands that are Doing it Right
Still figuring out how to tell your brand story? Take some inspiration from these brands cited by Smile.io that are doing it right:
“Comfort. Compassion. Consciousness.” Built with the purpose of helping to save elephants, clothing brand Ivory Ella has made it their mission to spread awareness and encourage others to join their fight in any way they can.
From the very beginning, they have been open and transparent about their cause, sharing their story on their website and social media platforms. They also make it a point to show their customers exactly how their purchases are making an impact by sharing regular updates on the work they’re doing to save elephants.
Ever since it first launched its “Just Do It” campaign in 1988, Nike has built their brand around the idea of inspiring people to push themselves and achieve their goals.
Their marketing campaigns always have a strong message that speaks to their target audience, and they use various channels—including TV ads, social media, and in-store experiences—to tell their story and connect with their customers.
Of course, who would forget about those heartwarming Dove campaigns and commercials that always seem to make us tear up?
Dove is a great example of a brand that uses emotional storytelling to connect with its audience and promote their message. Their “Real Beauty” campaign is all about celebrating women of all shapes, sizes, and colors which perfectly aligns with their brand values and sets them apart from other beauty brands.
What’s Your Story? Let It Be Known.
Now that you know the power of telling your brand story, it’s time to start sharing yours!
Think about the different ways you can share your story and be sure to do so in ways that would resonate with your target audience. Remember, it’s not just about sharing what you do or what you sell—it’s about connecting with your customers on a much deeper level and fostering relationships that will last beyond cart checkouts and social media follows.
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