Key Elements of a Powerful Brand Story
Creating a powerful brand story is about more than just identifying your ideal customer, your Unique Selling Prospect (USP), your logo and colors or even your place in the competitive landscape. Your brand’s story is your story. It is a story of shared connection, of relevance, of problems and solutions. And, if well told, it can be a story of increased market share and profitability as well!
In this post, learn about each of the key elements of creating a powerful story for your brand.
Storytelling: A Brief History
About the same time our ancestors discovered what our vocal chords can really do, we discovered stories. Stories help us remember information in concrete and relevant ways. Stories provide us with a context that makes us feel like we fit in with the bigger picture. Stories touch, entertain, move, inspire and motivate us. Most importantly, stories create ongoing conversation, which is essential in the online global marketplace most companies operate in today.
In business, stories sell products and services. This is because, as one old marketing adage states, “People don’t buy from companies; people buy from people.” And people are stories on legs. So if you want more people to buy more of what you have to sell, be the kind of compelling, intriguing, inspiring and relevant person people want to buy from.
5 Key Elements to Your Brand’s Story
Some of these key elements may surprise you. The entire marketing landscape continues to change so rapidly that you would think the key elements would change too. But the truth is, those elements haven’t changed since the days of the cave painting and shadow puppet plays.
Yet you may read this list and think, “But what about big data? What about web analytics? What about building a social media following?” These are all important too, but they are not effective storytelling techniques. They are story transmission techniques.
Having access to big data, web analytics and a network of listeners just means you have the ability to reach more people with your story. And when you do, you want to be sure it is a memorable story, one worth remembering, repeating and sharing!
Key Element #1: Fiction has a place in your story’s facts.
Think of a movie you absolutely love. Why do you love it? What makes you remember it over other movies you have seen? Fiction storytelling techniques can be found in all the best brand stories just as much as they can be found in movies (and even truth-based documentaries!).
Here are techniques from fiction writing you should incorporate into your brand story:
- Create compelling characters your audience (customers) want to know more about.
- Designate a beginning, a middle, and an ending (a story in three acts, essentially).
- Don’t put it all out there. Think in episodes to keep your customers engaged with your brand over the months and years.
Key Element #2: Base your fiction on truth (fact).
You may decide to create a mascot or a fictional character to base your brand story around. But make sure the roots of any story you tell are buried deep in facts that ring true. Authenticity is key in a world where people seldom meet eye to eye anymore.
Here is what you need to do to build authenticity and truth into your fiction:
- Look back into your company history for story basics like place, time, costumes, characters.
- Base everything you say on this consistent foundation. Otherwise, inconsistencies can degrade your brand and its story over time.
- Keep it simple. The simpler your story is, the more truthful it will sound.
Key Element #3: Perform CPR on your brand.
CPR stands for: Consistency, Persistence, Restraint.
Right now, think of a slogan or song that goes with a product you use. Here is an example: “Like a good neighbor….” If you can finish that statement, it is likely because you have heard it many times.
Experts differ on precisely how many times you probably heard the statement before it lodged itself more permanently in your memory (between 7 and 15 times is common theory).
But identifying the exact number of times it should be repeated isn’t as important as simply realizing it should be repeated until it sticks. In this way, you can lodge your own brand slogan, song or story in your customers’ awareness by sticking with a consistent message, repeating it persistently and yet with some restraint (there is a fine line between just enough and overkill).
Key Element #4: Place your product or service in context with your customers’ lives.
Steve Jobs of Apple fame is perhaps the most prominent successful entrepreneur to point out that consumers often have no idea what they want. But they usually don’t have any trouble identifying why and how they want it!
For example, let’s say you have a fast-flowing leak in your basement. You don’t know what is causing the leak. So you don’t know what service or product to ask for. But what you do know is that you want something that can fix the problem and you want that something FAST.
You also want it within a price range you can afford and provided by someone whose work you trust. So all of these descriptors – affordability, trustworthiness, speed, accuracy – these should all be part of your brand’s story. Your story places your product or service in context in your customers’ already unfolding lives. Here is what it can do for them; here is how it can help.
Key Element #5: Remember, Show AND Tell.
Your brand story will need to be digestible in multiple mediums, from television to radio to email to Twitter to Instagram. Each medium will require a different approach to be sure the emotion (show) and knowledge (tell) are equally communicated.
Only by showing AND telling your brand story will it become memorable enough to lodge in customers’ minds, shareable enough to be retold and passed along, authentic enough to be believed and trusted and effective enough to increase profits and market share.