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5 Brand Storytelling Tips for Successful Brands

5 Brand Storytelling Tips for Successful Brands

Brand storytelling is developing a brand identity by telling your story and highlighting your brand's key components and unique qualities.

Brands matter – that's why you care so much about brand storytelling. Studies indicate that companies that successfully tell their story are better off than those that don't.

It's no secret that we live in an era of over-saturation – your brand is competing with hundreds (or thousands) of other brand stories, all offering similar products or services. But the good news is that there is room to compete on things other than price or volume.

But how do you tell your brand story? Where do you start? And what kind of story are you trying to convey?

In this guide, you'll discover the five critical ingredients of a memorable brand marketing strategy. We will talk about the importance of consistency, the power of simplicity, the values in emotions and the power of authenticity.

So, you'll discover how to create stories worth attention, whether a brand new startup or a multinational corporation.

What is Brand Storytelling?

What Is A Brand Story Example

Your brand, or the stories behind it, is what customers think of when they hear your name. The truth is that your brand is a lot like your own personality – it's who you are.

Brand storytelling helps as it creates an emotional connection with your brand. It lets customers get an insight about you and empathise, creating stronger bonds.

Branding itself is one of the most effective ways to attract and retain customers; an excellent example of this marketing strategy can be seen in the Zippo brand.

In the 1930s, George G. Blaisdell created a lighter that could be used for extended periods and not burn out, even in strong winds. The name was chosen because it sounded like the word ‘zipper', but it took off, and Zippo became synonymous with lighters as the go-to name. It's widely believed that they are the first ever advertising lighter brand.

One strong selling point Zippo had is that they had a famous, lifetime guarantee backed by the slogan, “It works, or we fix it for freeβ„’.”

During WWII, Zippo ceased production on consumer lighters, dedicating output to the US military – with so many people carrying this lighter into battle, it's no wonder Zippo was established so firmly in people's minds, making it the American icon worldwide that it is today.

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How do I know if my Brand is Working?

Brands that make emotional connections with their audience are typically successful.

You can tell if your brand is working for you by how your customers respond. Ask yourself:

  1. What stories do my customers tell about my brand?
  2. Can my customers describe my brand clearly to others? Do they remember my slogan or marketing messages?
  3. Do customers say things like, “Wow, that's amazing!” or “I love this!”?
  4. Does my brand stand for something that makes me proud to be part of it?
  5. Does my customer know who we are, and have I given them reasons to trust us?
  6. Does my brand reflect my personality?
  7. Does my brand reflect the values I've set for myself?
  8. Do customers like me?
  9. Does my brand help people solve a problem, such as how to write a book or how to monetise a blog?
  10. Would my customers recommend my brand to friends or family?

The answers to these questions can help you decide if your brand is telling the correct stories correctly. You should feel a solid connection to your brand and the ability to connect with your audience. The answers can help you develop your brand, connecting it to the stories you tell in marketing and advertising.

Why does Brand Storytelling Matter to Me?

Best Brand Storytelling Quotes

The answer to this question will naturally vary from one to the next, but it comes down to what brand story you want to live and share with your customers.

Take a quick look at five brand stories impacting a customer's decision-making process.

#1 – Brand Stories help make connections

We live in a society where we connect globally with people worldwide in an instant. We now have access to more information and less time to sift through it all. Why brand storytelling is so powerful that it allows us to make emotional connections in a digital world.

Stories are used to connect us to our favourite sports teams, clothing brands, car brands and entertainment channels. We watch a football match and talk about the team's new kit sponsor or the experience of being in the stadium. We watch a TV show and share the laughs or tears that come with the plot. At our core, we love stories as they connect us to others; we need them to feel a sense of community.

It's why we use these stories in marketing; it helps our audience get to know our brand better in the most authentic light.

#2 – Stories can help make our lives more meaningful

We all live busy lives, often questioning our lifestyle choices. We live purposeful lives and use brand stories to bring meaning and connection to our chosen brand names. These stories can make us feel alive and provides direction – for example, if you hear a specific song, it may remind you of a particular memory or moment in your life, making it that memory's “soundtrack”.

#3 – Stories build strong communities

Stories are central to any community. When we share a positive story, we build stronger relationships – it bonds us in a shared experience. We are typically motivated to do this because we (deep down) want to improve our lives and the world around us.

This translates directly into branding – we use brand storytelling to share our values, building more substantial and emotionally connected communities.

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#4 – Stories lead to discoveries

As we contemplate brand stories, we are often inspired to learn new things. Through the power of brand storytelling, we become curious and explore new ideas. It's in our nature to follow the intrigue and want to learn everything about a subject.

#5 – Stories are good for business

Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where we need to reach out to others for help. People may call on us to help when they need it. As a business, it's no different; customers will reach out to you to help solve a problem they may be having, and you need to use brand storytelling to communicate your values, building a foundation for your brand.

5 Brand Storytelling Tips for Successful Brands

Airbnb Brand Storytelling Example

Understand the People you're Targeting

A basic understanding of your target customer is crucial to brand storytelling. You can only expect to tell a story that resonates with people if you know whom you're talking to. For example, if you are trying to sell a product, you wouldn't talk about features that aren't relevant to your audience's needs. Knowing what your audience needs and why they need/want it is essential to telling a compelling story.

Your audience may be diverse if you're trying to tell your brand story on social media. Uncovering your followers' interests and what motivates them to buy would be best. For example, if you are selling a healthy food item, don't expect a fast-food brand's followers to be interested in your message. It's unlikely, but you must be convincing and appealing through your messages to win them over.

Whatever you are selling, you have to create content that speaks to people's needs and interests. To build a community, you need to connect with like-minded individuals and people already doing well in your industry. Are they fitness fanatics who like to travel? Do they primarily live in cities and ride a bike to work? It would help if you found this out.

To create compelling brand stories, you should be personal. Don't just talk about the product and its features; talk about your life experiences and why this matters to you.

To understand just who it is you're targeting, you'll need to know a few things:

1 – What do they care about?

Knowing what motivates and influences your audience is critical to building a successful story. Do your customers care about:

1. The environment

2. fitness

3. health

4. safety

5. eating well

6. social causes

7. personalisation

8. experiences

9. ease-of-use

10. prices

The more you know about them, the easier it will be to tell your story effectively.

2 – What motivates them to act?

Knowing your audience's motivations is critical to creating content that gets results. For example, if you are trying to sell winter jackets, you will want to showcase how insulating they are in snow and rain, with some case studies showing how they are better than alternatives.

Similarly, if you're trying to promote a healthy-living brand, you'll want to focus on “healthy alternatives to…” or “ways to lose fat, fast.” They may not care about your product's healthy ingredients, but they may share a recipe you've created that uses it in a new way. You have to find out what they act upon.

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3 – What are their interests?

How your content is structured will determine whether or not it appeals to your specific audience. Think of them as the characters in your brand story; the content is the plot.

If you're telling the story for a snack food company, you'll want to talk about those midday cravings when you're having some coffee and how your snack would be a perfect choice. You could talk about how the product is made with photos and videos that help visualise the production process to customers.

Ultimately, you need to know your audience's interests to engage with them in areas where we can connect with your brand story.

4 – What are their goals or ambitions?

This information can help guide the type of content you produce – everything from the visuals you make to the advertising campaigns you push.

But your brand goals can align with your target audience. For example, if you want to increase sales of a specific product, retelling your brand story to focus on that product can help show how it would be the perfect solution. If your goal is to build brand loyalty, tell stories of how your product has outlasted competitors through thick and thin.

5 – What can they afford?

This is crucial to remember with brand storytelling, primarily if you sell more ‘luxury' or high-end products and services. But typically, your audience will have a few different budget ranges.

If you sell furniture, some customers may be happy to spend Β£10,000 on a leather couch, and others can only afford a low-priced option. Your brand story will let people know if you are the best option for them – the high-budget customers may expect only to buy the best, but the lower-budget customers want to know they are treated equally and get a great deal for their money.

It's the Core Values that Matter

Brand Values Examples Consumer Trust

A brand's core values define and inspire the brand identity, which helps the company connect emotionally with consumers. If the brand has the correct values, the consumer will see the brand as an extension of themselves. Consumers can feel this connection with the brand even when it isn't actively communicating with them. This is called emotional resonance and happens when they identify with common brand values.

If a brand is authentic, genuine and honest with itself, it makes it easier for consumers to relate to it. These three qualities can help create a powerful connection with consumers and brands, whether a product or service.

From a brand point of view, authenticity can be defined as having beliefs and principles that you stand by. Authentic brands believe in what they sell and constantly strive to do things correctly. For example, an organic or fair trade brand must focus on standing by those standards – if it turns out they aren't organic, that will be a complete PR disaster. Brands that make factual claims like this must commit to their beliefs and principles to be seen as authentic.

Grown from the inside out, genuine brands consist of real people, processes and policies on top of their brand values and beliefs. These people and processes are who the brand is. A brand is more than the sum of its parts; it reflects the whole – the ‘brand' is what people say it is.

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This is why it's essential to know your brand's core values and how to communicate them meaningfully. These values make your brand unique, authentic and memorable.

Brand storytelling is about understanding your brand and communicating it to the world. By uncovering your brand's core values, you can understand your brand and make it memorable to consumers.

Be authentic, honest and simple

Apple Brand Association

For a long time, I used to say that a successful product didn't need a story – people buy products because it meets their needs, wants or desires. The product's real value lies in its functional attributes, and telling a story about it wasn't necessary to get someone to purchase.

But I've since discovered that consumers appreciate the brand story. They buy products from brands they know and trust, brands where they have seen the faces behind the name and been introduced to the company's identity.

In interviews with successful entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley who sell similar products, it was clear that what differentiates one from another is the story behind the brand. It's part of how they communicate with their customers and why they buy from them. This is why brand storytelling is vital for every company that wants to share its message in the best way possible.

Create a brand story as soon as possible – think about what makes your company unique and attractive to your target market. Then take it step by step to develop it into a compelling story. Here are a few approaches to help you get started:

1 – Be authentic and open

Being open and honest is crucial to creating a brand story – no one wants to do business with a brand that makes false claims or straight-out lies. 

I mentioned it earlier when I talked about being authentic, but it's about being true to yourself. It's also essential to your company's success, as people want to work with brands that share similar values. Your brand story must reflect your company's values and mission – if the message and content don't match, it will not appeal to the target audience.

So, to create an authentic brand story, it's essential to think about the people behind the product – Who are they? What do they stand for?

2 – Be simple

Keeping it simple is one of the best ways to tell your brand story. You have to be clear about the product or service you are selling. Avoid over-complicating your marketing copy with business jargon or fluffy phrases that add no value. Tell your audience your brand's story in just a few sentences.

Consider the basic brand story of Apple:

Apple Computers, Inc. was founded on April 1, 1976, by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who brought the new company a vision of changing how people viewed computers. Jobs and Wozniak wanted to make computers small enough for people to have them in their homes or offices.

They wanted to revolutionise the industry and make a user-friendly computer. This is further emphasised through their slogan, “Think Different” – people respect innovation in business as if you're not moving forwards, you're going backwards.

3 – Don't forget the visuals

All good brand stories are equally visually pleasing. A simple brand story without a visual approach won't grab the audience's attention as quickly.

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Again referencing Apple, their visual element is the iconic Apple logo on every product. They have created such a strong brand presence that the name doesn't need to be placed alongside it; people know it's an Apple device.

To sum it up, brand storytelling should be:

  • Authentic and honest
  • simple
  • visual

Your brand story is an integral part of a marketing strategy, so I encourage you to put thought into it and develop a compelling brand story that sets you apart from your competitors. And remember, if you are looking for a company capable of telling your brand story, get in touch today!

Articulate your brand messaging.

Brand Message Quote

Good brand storytelling involves using the language of your existing customers to tell your story to potential customers, employees and industry partners. If your brand message isn't clear, it will be tricky to translate into stories that resonate and connect with an audience.

Many brands struggle to create powerful stories because they don't understand the right words to use, instead falling back on phrases like, “We are the best…” or “Our product is better than anyone else's.”

But what makes you unique, and how do you want your audience to perceive your brand? What story are you telling to your audience? It would help if you answered these questions to tell a compelling brand story.

The brand story is the language of your brand – it's more than a mission statement, motto or slogan. It describes the uniqueness of your brand, and it's the foundation of every marketing communication you create. For example, by marketing a running shoe brand, you could describe your brand as having a fun, casual feel with premium quality, which is your brand's core.

Make sure you believe in the story you tell.

It takes time to succeed in brand storytelling. We often get caught up in the story and lose sight of what matters. We must focus on other stories and remember to tell the real story behind the brand.

For example, let's say you are working on the brand story of a new toothbrush that cleans your teeth better than other products, eliminating bacteria from your mouth. When you use it, you think about how much you enjoy the brushing experience, and you begin to tell your wife everything you like about it. But you've forgotten all about bacteria elimination.

Brand storytelling is about building emotional connections and relationships, not just reciting facts.

So how do you ensure that the story you're telling is the one that matters?

First, know the story. The story of the brand is the story of the product. It's how people feel after using the product and how it impacts their lives – how people connect to it.

Second, tell it again. When people share the brand's story, it must be something that people want to hear repeatedly. It must be something that people want to tell their friends.

Third, tell the story differently. Ask yourself why you are telling the brand story in the first place. Is it because you want to connect more deeply with customers, or do you want to make more money?

When you're genuinely committed to brand storytelling, you won't be begging people to buy your product; you shouldn't need to. It would be best to focus on the story, getting them to buy into it.

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Why? When people hear your brand story, they aren't necessarily thinking of a specific product – they are thinking about the relationship, the connections and the emotions.

This is what makes brand storytelling so powerful. It's the difference between telling the story of the brand and selling the brand itself. It's not the story that's said. It's the story that's ‘felt'.

Benefits of Brand Storytelling in Content Marketing

Content Marketing Roi Statistics On Blog Posts
Source: Semrush

In many ways, brand storytelling in a content marketing strategy is an evolution of customer service, emphasising listening to your customers and taking their input into account when developing content.

A customer service department may offer personalised recommendations to a customer based on their profile. That same customer may see this as an added value, so they become loyal customers.

Brand storytelling in content marketing is the same; only it does it through stories. These stories feature the brand's mission and values and incorporate customer feedback. In this way, the customer is the story's hero, and the brand is the supporting character.

For example, if you are a financial institution, your brand storytelling in content marketing would feature real people talking about their economic challenges and the impact of the product on their lives. The company would then offer a solution, such as a bank account that fits into their customers' daily financial routine.

Another example of brand storytelling in a content marketing strategy would be a retailer offering customers a free meal with every purchase.

Powerful Brand Storytelling Examples In Advertising

History Of The Starbucks Logo

Whether or not you believe in the power of brands, they play an essential role in shaping consumers' perceptions and experiences. The strongest brands are the ones that create memorable experiences and memories with their consumers.

To achieve this, companies must tell stories that resonate with their consumers and build emotional connections. At the same time, they need to ensure that their ads convey the right message and are as relevant to the consumers' lives as possible.

Here are a few examples of powerful storytelling in advertising:

The Honda brand stands for its reliability and durability. The Honda brand is often associated with cool cars like the Civic, CRV, and Accord, but even with the most affordable models, the brand always provides reliable performance.

M&M has built its brand on providing a unique experience for its consumers. They've made M&M's the first to offer consumers the opportunity to customise the candy. They've expanded the possibilities by providing a variety of flavours, sizes, shapes, and even ways to serve them.

Starbucks is one of the most recognised brands in the world. In addition to coffee, they've expanded their business into food, entertainment, and travel. Their original logo was inspired by the Starbucks founders' love of the outdoors and the company's mission of providing a place for people to gather. 

Google, in partnership with the American Foundation for the Blind, launched an innovative initiative to increase access to the internet. The campaign focuses on the accessibility of Google's search engine, allowing users to search for information using text-based and braille technologies. The ad shows a blind girl who uses speech recognition software on her computer to search the internet and then shares her experience with the rest of the world.

The Coca-Cola Company has been an iconic part of American culture for years. Since its founding in 1892, it has continuously strived to innovate and provide consumers memorable experiences. Their most recent innovation is Coca-Cola Life, a drink designed to encourage healthier living.

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A company can create a powerful brand story by incorporating the values of its consumer base into the way it tells its stories. As brands become increasingly connected to their consumers, they must listen to what consumers want and ensure that their products and services are relevant and valuable.

What makes a unique brand story?

What makes a brand story unique? It should be:

Personal β€“ It's all about you. A story about your journey and struggles is the most compelling and memorable.

Informative β€“ Your story must explain who you are and why your company exists. It can include facts, but it shouldn't be overly technical.

Authentic β€“ Don't create a story that sounds like marketing material. It's essential to tell the story that you want your customers to know.

Relevant β€“ Your story should be relevant to your customer's life and experiences. If it doesn't resonate, it won't stick.

Wrapping up

You've noticed that some brands can tell a story with their branding; they've managed to create a narrative that creates an emotional response with their target audiences.

If you're a marketer, you know that a brand story is essential. Even though the internet is full of “how-to's” about building your brand, it's difficult to pinpoint what makes a successful brand.

There's so much information about branding that you could spend years trying to figure it out. But I can help you break it down and give you some tips that will help you create a more memorable brand than your competition.

So let's tell your brand's story.

Brand Storytelling FAQs

What does brand storytelling mean?

Brand storytelling is about telling a story about your brand in fun, engaging way. It's a way to get your message out to customers in a way that they can connect to.

Why is it important to tell a brand's story?

It's crucial to tell a brand's story because it helps build a connection between the brand and the customer. It also helps build trust in the brand.

How can brands use brand storytelling to get their message out?

Brands can use brand storytelling in several ways. They can use it to help promote their products, services, and events. They can also use it to promote their culture and values.

What are some of the benefits of brand storytelling?

Some of the benefits of brand storytelling include helping customers remember your brand, helping to build a connection between the brand and the customer, and helping to build trust in the brand.

What are some of the challenges of brand storytelling?

One of the biggest challenges of brand storytelling is getting the story out. It can be hard to find a way to share a brand's story with people who are not already familiar with the brand.

How can I find my brand's story?

Start with the basics. Think about your values and beliefs. What's important to you? What do you stand for? What are your core values? Where does your company fit into the larger picture? Once you know your brand's story, you can begin to tell it.

How can I develop my brand's story?

There are two primary ways to develop a brand's story. The first is through the process of discovery. Discovery is the process of understanding who your brand is and why people should care about it. The second is through the development of your brand's narrative. The narrative is the way your brand tells its story to the world.

How can brands use storytelling to inspire their audience?

By telling a story that inspires your audience, you're giving them a reason to believe in your brand. Inspiration is the emotional connection your audience feels to your brand.

How can I tell my brand's story to my audience?

It's important to share your brand's story in a way that makes sense to your audience. The best way to do this is to start with your values and beliefs. Then, move to the emotional connection you want to make with your audience. Finally, choose a relatable and exciting way to tell your audience your story.

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Stuart Crawford

Stuart Crawford is an award-winning creative director and brand strategist with over 15 years of experience building memorable and influential brands. As Creative Director at Inkbot Design, a leading branding agency, Stuart oversees all creative projects and ensures each client receives a customised brand strategy and visual identity.

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