A Guide to Brand Storytelling

February 19, 2020 | Andrea Lechner-Becker | No Comments |

The term “brand story” is constantly used in the marketing world. Typically it is used to describe the basis of a marketing campaign and refers to how you tell your company story to the public. However, a brand story is more than just the way that you describe your business. A brand story is technically defined as a tale of how your company started and how that origin story continues to influence your business decisions today.

Your brand story is a tool that helps you differentiate your company from its competition.  It makes your business more memorable and helps to forge a stronger connection between your customers and your company. Without it, your organization will fade into the background and leave room for your customer base to explore other options that can provide more than just the specific product or service that they are looking for.

Your goal in creating a brand story is to make people care about your business as though it was a character in their favorite book or movie series. In essence, you want your brand to be Tony Stark in Iron Man or Hermione Granger in Harry Potter…you want people to care about your business for more than just how its product or services can help them. Brand stories are powerful because when your customer knows how much you have overcome and how hard you have worked to be successful, they are more likely to feel like they know you and keep coming back for more. 

Below, we’ve included not only details on how to build your own brand story, but also examples of powerful brands that invoke an emotional response to provide you with inspiration.

How To Create Your Brand Story

You’ll need to start by outlining your company story in a way that allows others to know not simply what you sell, but also what you stand for. You can use the following brand storytelling strategies to do that.

Identify the key elements of your brand story.

Think of any story you’ve ever heard. Chances are if it’s any good, there are 3 key elements:

  1. The setting, which is the basis for the entire story. What led you to start your business? What were you noticing around you that needed to be different? Who were the characters that caught your attention? Who are you in this story?
  2. A challenge or conflict that arises. This is the catalyst. What was the trigger that made you officially decide to start your business?
  3. A resolution. How did your business attempt to solve the problem you noticed? What kind of challenges did you overcome? What kind of solutions are you still trying to provide today?

You’ll need to identify what comprises each of these parts of the story within your company. 

Establish company values.

Core company values give direction to your employees and emphasize the main aspects of your company story to your customers and business partners. When you write them down, it’s easier to tie your marketing and sales strategies back to your brand narrative. They also act as a base for marketing and sales materials and create a personality for your business. Ask yourself, how does your brand story embody your company values?

Create a mission statement.

This is a basic outline of what your brand stands for and how you want to be identified in your industry. Your mission statement should include your company values and the overarching goals your company has in relation to how it will serve your customers.

Define your product and services.

When you define your products and services, you want each of them to have a clear tie back to your company. If there’s a product or service that does not relate to your target audience or your brand story, you should re-evaluate either how you define your brand or if that product adds value to your company.

 

Aligning Your Marketing Strategy With Your Brand Story

Once you have your brand story, you’ll need to tell it to your audience. This involves your entire marketing strategy and a consistent return to what your brand story is and why it represents your company as a whole. There are 2 major things to keep in mind when you’re attempting to craft a message that encompasses your brand story:

Tell your company story through every marketing campaign.

This may seem obvious, but you’ll want to use your company’s brand story as you sell yourself to clients. Hearing about why your company is effective and how you’re solving problems for your customers is a powerful aspect of your marketing strategy. 

Use social media.

Social media marketing is a major part of developing a brand narrative. It’s a very human platform, and it enables you to reach out directly to your customers. You can do this in several ways:

  • Responding to comments about your company
  • Tagging devoted customers and calling out their personal success
  • Telling stories about a customer’s experience with you and how you have helped solve their problem
  • Documenting new offerings or developments in your company
  • Giving your audience more information about the inner workings of your company including employees, projects, and a look into your company culture.

Social media is how you humanize your brand and give more engaging insights into your core values. By strategizing your social media posts to tell a compelling brand story, you give people a human face to associate it with. This helps keep your message at the top of the mind of your audience and expands the reach of your company story as a whole.

 

Brand Story Examples

Rent the Runway

In 2008, a college student named Jenn was home for Thanksgiving when her sister showed off a designer dress that she went into credit card debt to purchase. In all likelihood, she would wear it maybe 2-3 times, but she sank $2000 into the dream of wearing a designer label. Jenn went back to school and asked her friend Jenny her thoughts on a business that let women wear couture styles without having to max out their credit cards.

After a cold email to Diane von Furstenberg that resulted in a meeting, the girls got to work, hosting a pop-up on their campus to see how college students reacted to the option of renting clothing. The confidence the clothing gave the women trying them out only solidified their mission. These entrepreneurs were determined to give every woman access to an outfit that would make her feel her best. 

This has been the guiding principle for Rent the Runway since it launched in 2009. The concept of giving everyone the opportunity to have their own “Cinderella” moment by building a “closet in the cloud” has led to the business becoming a leader in the fashion industry. In fact, in March of 2019, it was valued at $1 billion, one of the few female-founded, female-run businesses to ever reach that milestone. The Rent the Runway brand story is present in every product and service offered, as well as every message they send to their clients.

The Setting: Two women found that designer clothing was something most women loved to wear and made them feel confident.

The Conflict: Most women wouldn’t invest in couture fashion because there are so few opportunities to wear it, which makes it an extravagance that most people can’t afford.

The Resolution: Their brand solved the problem by offering the opportunity to rent couture styles so women could experience the luxury of wearing high-end clothing without having to sacrifice responsible financial decision-making. 

Rent the Runway brand story

Spanx

In 1998, a woman named Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she ran into an issue that every woman in the world has run into at one point or another – she had a great outfit planned but nothing to wear underneath it that wouldn’t show bulges or lines. Women love wearing beautiful clothing but in most cases, the clothing is designed for how it will look from the outside, not what you need to wear underneath it. Without any traditional options, Sarah took a pair of control top pantyhose, cut off the feet, and wore them underneath her outfit for that night. She looked and felt sleek and beautiful. And she wondered why on earth this wasn’t already a readily-available product! So, she set out to solve the problem and Spanx was born.

After investing $5000 of her savings into her endeavor, she found a manufacturer that would produce her footless body shaping pantyhose in 2000. The same year, Neiman Marcus placed their first major order and Oprah placed Spanx on her list of favorite things. Everything snowballed from there as Sara continued to create products by women, for women, including control top fishnets and Spanx designed for pregnant women. 

Since its founding, celebrities everywhere have jumped on board with this product including Tyra Banks, Michelle Obama, and Gwyneth Paltrow. The product has become a basic staple for every woman’s closet and in March 2012, Sara Blakely was named the youngest self-made female billionaire by Forbes! She was also named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people. Today, Sara Blakely rules an empire that started at one of those low moments where a woman looks into her closet and realizes she has nothing to wear.

Spanx Brand Story

The Setting: Women all over the world were struggling to find undergarments that allowed them to wear their favorite clothing. 

The Conflict: Sara Blakely was hours away from a party when she realized that her cream trousers needed a specialty undergarment to look right. 

The Resolution: She took scissors to a pair of her control top pantyhose and realized that she had just created the perfect garment that solved a problem every woman dealt with all the time.

Everyone loves a good origin story. The competition for customers is fierce in the internet age and having a brand story that makes you memorable and endears you to your target audience is a powerful tool to have in your belt. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to creating the kind of company story that attracts customers and keeps them coming back for more.

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