How to tell a brand story that boosts your bottom line
January 12, 2023|
A brand story is a valuable marketing tool that drives sales by connecting with customers on a deeper level.
Humans are hardwired to engage with and remember stories, and telling the story of your brand is a unique opportunity. A good brand story creates positive associations and makes customers feel good about buying your products or services.
Conversely, a lackluster brand story (or no story at all) makes it hard for customers to get to know your brand. As a result, every sale is an uphill struggle — especially if your competitors have crafted a story that resonates.
So how do you tell a brand story that truly inspires customers? The good news is there’s probably already a compelling story behind your brand. You just need to find it and leverage it strategically.
What’s a brand story?
A brand story is an engaging, strategic narrative about a brand. Its purpose is to motivate customers with a positive and compelling backstory. A brand story typically touches on a company’s origins and values, and makes customers feel good about their purchase.
Why you should tell the story of your brand
A brand story is more than a nice-to-have. It’s an essential part of a successful marketing strategy. 55% of people say they’re more likely to buy a product if they love the story behind the brand.
Storytelling is an essential part of brand recognition because it taps into the most effective memory mechanisms in the human brain. Research shows that people can recall only 5-10% of statistical information. But when they hear a story, they remember 65-70% of it.
Let’s look at the power of a good brand story in action. Which of these alcohol-free wine labels would you be more excited to try?
Wine Label A
When the founder of Wine Label A stopped drinking for health reasons, he missed the culinary experience of pairing great wines with great food. He found there were many fantastic alcohol-free beers on the market, but alcohol-free wines always seemed to miss the mark. So he partnered with top vineyards to create a range of wines that capture all the nuances and complexity of grapes from different regions — without the alcohol.
Wine Label B
Wine Label B was founded in 2014 and has been expanding their range of alcohol-free wines ever since.
Wine Label A’s story builds credibility. Customers can identify with the company’s founder, and knowing what motivates him fosters a sense of trust in the quality of his company’s product.
Wine Label B’s story is generic and impersonal, so there’s nothing for customers to connect with. Most people would probably be more excited to try Label A’s wine, simply because the story behind it inspires trust, confidence, and curiosity.
A good brand story shows customers that your brand is more than just a company trying to make a sale. It makes them want to do business with you, not only because they need the service or product you offer, but because they trust your brand and like the story behind it.
How to tell an amazing brand story
A brand story is a marketing tool, not a comprehensive account of your company’s history. It pays to be strategic about the story you tell and how you tell it.
That doesn’t mean your story should be fabricated — a disingenuous story is definitely not a good way to get customers to trust you. But you can and should think strategically about which parts of your brand’s history you want to emphasize.
Here are a few key things to consider as you craft an impactful brand story.
1. Remember your purpose
A well-defined brand purpose is a great framework for a compelling brand story.
A brand purpose is a formal understanding of what needs a company addresses from the customer’s perspective. For example, a car company’s brand purpose isn’t to sell cars. But it might be to give people a safe, easy way to get from point A to point B (à la Volvo). Or to create a pleasurable driving experience (think BMW).
Your brand story is the perfect way to show customers why you do what you do in a way that resonates with them.
2. Leverage classic elements of storytelling
Does your story involve a conflict? A quest? Maybe even a villain? These classic storytelling conventions will help you craft a story that’s both engaging and memorable.
You’ll also need to decide who the hero of your story is. Some great options include:
Your company’s founders – A classic choice, and a great way to highlight the passion and expertise behind your products. But tread lightly — a brand story should be about the brand, not a chance for its founders to self-promote.
Your company as a whole – Are you a scrappy start-up taking on the establishment? A local institution with deep roots in the community? Your brand story is a great opportunity to do a bit of brand positioning by showcasing the unique qualities that make your company stand out.
The customer – One of the best ways to connect with customers is to make them (or someone like them) the hero of your brand’s story. This approach has many advocates in the marketing community and is at the center of Donald Miller’s story brand framework. In this approach, the customer overcomes an obstacle, and the brand is a guide or resource that helps them along the way.
3. Keep it short
Your brand story isn’t a novel. Customers want a quick overview of what your brand is about in a tidy, concise package. Structure your story in a way that is informative, inspiring, and creative — but not overly complex. If customers can’t learn your brand story in a few minutes, they probably won’t bother.
4. Keep your audience in mind
The most important thing to consider when writing your brand story is what you want customers to take away from it. After all, the sole purpose of a brand story is to connect with them and build brand loyalty.
Think of how your story might resonate with the people who buy (or might buy) your services and products. Put yourself in their shoes to pick out details and narratives that will make people want to be a part of your story.
5. Incorporate your products and services
The ultimate goal of your brand story is to make customers feel good about buying your products or services — so be sure to include them in your narrative.
If your offerings have evolved over the years, you might have to get a little creative. Maybe your commitment to quality has stayed the same, even as your product line has changed. Maybe your company has always been focused on incorporating new technology to offer the most cutting-edge, modern services.
Whatever your brand’s history, there’s a great narrative somewhere waiting to be crafted. You just have to think strategically to find it.
Examples of effective brand stories
Need a bit of inspiration? You probably already know the story of a successful brand or two — even if you don’t think about it in those terms. The following examples are a great way to see how a brand story can influence and inspire customers.
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, working with what little means they had, were able to build a computer they hoped would be the next big thing in computing. Unfortunately, resources were tight.
To overcome their limited resources, they stored many of their equipment tools in a garage, then sold some of their important belongings to finish their projects.
Apple had an uphill battle entering an industry with a powerful competitor, Microsoft. However, through perseverance, hard work, and creativity, they thrived, becoming the tech-leading brand they are today.
- Highlight obstacles you overcame. Early adversity makes the Apple story dynamic and engaging.
- Be relatable. People might think of Apple as a faceless tech giant, but the company’s humble origin story paints the brand in a more approachable light.
Mailchimp began as a way for its founders to deliver powerful web design to large enterprises. Eventually, they realized that their biggest skills and passions involved working with small businesses.
These beginnings made it easier for Mailchimp to be successful, pushing the creativity of their teams in order to make their products work for everyone who uses them.
Now, Mailchimp is still working to deliver effective services to small businesses, but they do so with more than just email tools.
- Put your customer in the story. Small businesses reading the Mailchimp story know right off the bat: “This product is for me.”
- Connect new products to established values. Mailchimp tells a story of growth and change without seeming inconsistent or unstable.
The problem, as the founders of Warby Parker saw it, was that eyewear was so overpriced it was an inconvenience to simply exist if you had eyesight issues and needed glasses. Fueling this problem was a large industry leader that no one was willing to go up against.
That’s where Warby Parker entered, giving their competition a run for their money while making glasses much more affordable.
To further dedicate themselves to this cause, they now partner with other groups that help locate eyewear for the needy across the globe.
- Everyone loves an underdog. Taking on the big guys is a big part of what makes Warby Parker’s story so compelling.
- Show the customer what’s in it for them. Customers don’t flock to Warby Parker just to stick it to eyewear industry giants. The story is a vehicle for a more important message: You can trust us not to overcharge you.
Weave your brand story into the customer experience
A brand story is much more than a few lines of copy on your “About Us” page. It’s an integral part of your brand identity. To leverage it successfully, customers need to encounter content that complements your story throughout the buyer journey.
You can invest lots of time, energy, and money creating content that tells your brand’s story, but it won’t have much impact if you don’t get it in front of the right people at the right time. In order to communicate and build a brand effectively, you’ll need to have a good brand management strategy in place.
Fortunately, the right tools make that possible. Canto is an innovative digital asset management platform that provides a single source of truth for your brand and all the content behind it. By enabling you to organize, manage, and distribute your brand assets, Canto makes it easy to manage your brand and tell its story across every touchpoint.
For a comprehensive look at how to build a successful brand management strategy, check our free eBook: The Essential Guide to Brand Management. It’s full of tips for creating a consistent customer experience at scale, so you can leverage your brand’s story to motivate customers and boost your bottom line.