June 20, 2018 (Updated: May 4, 2023)
Brands will have more difficulty coming across as genuine and building a human connection in their content marketing if they don’t have a logical, relatable backstory. Simply outlining what your business does on an about page doesn’t really cut it. There’s a lot of opportunity available to businesses that build trust and impress people with a strong, inspiring story of how they got started, how things have changed, or if you have gone through any product or policy updates.
Take a look at the four core principals to crafting the perfect brand story, and see how to apply these tenets to your own business. You should end up with ideas for a far more interesting home page, introductory videos, and other content that shows off this story to your audience.
Too many brand stories are just reworded marketing material for the product or services themselves, detailing merely how they were conceptualized or improved. This is not interesting to the majority of people and won’t build a firm connection. What people can relate to universally, however, are the struggles and achievements that people face.
Take, for example, a business selling natural, healthy root beer. Let’s assume the name is something like “Brock’s 110th” because their root beer is made from the 110th iteration of different flavors and brewing experiments. A story describing the process of testing over 100 prototypes would most likely be interesting to a potential investor or an enthusiast in a related field, but for the average customer it doesn’t work. It’s better suited to a small line of product description copy. Instead of the product being the basis of the story, make the people who led to its creation the basis of the story.
Image via Flickr by Guudmorning!
It may be difficult to think of any sort of brand story if you are the one who created your product or service, but this is a natural hurdle that you need to get over. Most people automatically put up a humble defense and assume that there is nothing interesting about them, but that is the easy way out. Maybe you’ve never been a secret agent put into top secret missions, and maybe you haven’t saved anyone’s life, but these sorts of excuses neglect the extremely strong market for quaint memoirs.
Your life doesn’t have to be action-packed or newsworthy to be inspiring. In fact, it’s the most extreme examples of achievement that can actually alienate someone. After all, what’s easier to identify with: an seven-time Olympic medalist with their own scholarship fund, or a woman who discovered a new kind of glue out of wanting to get more use out of broken household items?
Anyone who starts a business is taking on a lot of challenges to see a very specific thing come to fruition. There is a story there, so look into the actual human desires and struggles that started everything. Go over the history of your business, and far before then, building a timeline and making sense of key decisions and events that brought you to where you are now.
It can be tricky to imagine how your story should be told until you’ve gotten a clear focus on your brand voice, so get that side of things figured out first. If your brand has more of a straightforward, rugged, slightly teasing attitude, then the story should be presented with those traits.
Brand voice should influence the length of your story as well. If your brand is more attuned to a very specific group of people, or requires a lot of customer education, go long with the story. If your business is more broadly appealing, keep it short. Knowing your brand personality and audience should also help with the types of content you present your story in, such as text, video, and infographics. What does your audience prefer?
This is where professional copywriters and designers are essential. It’s quite a challenge to fit all the relevant information in an entertaining way while also staying in character with the brand.
If you’re not a natural storyteller, no worries! Coming up with a good story simply boils down to filling in the following checkmarks of drama for a brand story:
Note that the funeral home examples are plain, realistic details. You won’t find that sort of thing in a tabloid, but when arranged in this logical dramatic sequence, realistic events make a reader relate with the protagonist and what they’re doing. Best of all, unlike fiction, the star of your brand story is a real person, possibly even you. Having a connection to a real-life person who went through that captivating story is how superfans are born.
As a final note, remember that unlike traditional fiction storytelling, brand stories don’t have a clean ending point. They should be left open with an encouraging and bright future, to show that in addition to everything that’s happened, there’s much more to come.
On a psychological level, stories last far longer in peoples’ memory than plain facts. A great brand story can serve as engaging content for a blog post, or a shortened version can be applied to social media profiles or other areas. Wherever people see it, chances are it will serve better than the typical “salesy” content. Put the effort into perfecting your brand story and it will increase the number of people who stick around when they find your content or website, making your attempts at visibility more rewarding.
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