Brand storytelling is all the rage in today’s top-performing marketing strategies—and with good reason. An increasing body of research points to strong brand stories as a key success factor for top organizations. But before going into the top things you should know about connecting your brand principles to your customer’s story, it’s helpful to understand each term separately.
Brand, Story, and Brand Storytelling Defined
Originally published in 1980, marketing classic The Principles of Marketing (Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign symbol (or a combination of these) that identifies the maker or seller of the product" BusinessDictionary.com expands on the definition, adding that brands ”help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value.”
A story is “a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader.”
When we combine the two, we arrive at Kaitlin Loyal’s definition of brand storytelling: “using a narrative to connect your brand to customers, with a focus on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.”
So now that we have a better idea of what brand storytelling is, let’s dive into why it’s so important for your content.
Whether you like it or not, simply existing in the current digital marketplace means that audiences that are paying attention to your business have already created a story. Intentional, effective brand storytelling allows you to frame the conversation, convey how your brand principles intersect with their personal stories and build trust.
Here are three ideas to keep in mind when crafting or evolving your brand stories.
#1: Customers don’t care about your brand story…
unless it involves them. Or, at the very least, they have to feel some kind of familiarity or shared understanding around the narrative. Yes, sometimes it helps to weave your brand’s unique origin story into the conversation with audiences. But remember that the most effective brand stories build connection by making customers the heroes and co-creators of the tale.
#2: Customers buy solutions and stories
People hate to admit it but the fact remains: most humans base their decisions primarily on emotions. A 2019 Forrester Consulting research study found that how a customer feels about the brand (their emotional connection with the brand) has a 1.5x greater impact on driving positive business outcomes than what a customer thinks. Stories are a go-to vehicle for moving a customer’s experience from indifferent to interested because emotions fuel stories. From the point of interest, you now have a chance to pitch your product or service as the best option for solving the customer’s problem.
#3: Stories are strong differentiators
Chances are that, whatever industry your business is in, there’s plenty of competition. The Havas' Meaningful Brands 2019 research report found that nine out of 10 consumers expect brands to deliver content, but consumers think 58% of content from brands is irrelevant and isn't meaningful. The report also revealed a 72% correlation between content effectiveness and a brand's impact on personal well-being.
So how do you stand out? Stories are where your brand gets to shine! They illustrate your brand’s values and personality and serve as a way to increase your brand’s relevance by SHOWING (instead of simply telling) how it fits into the customer’s world on an emotional level.
Want to learn more about great brand storytelling? Check out Kindra Hall’s Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business.