Every great brand has a story.
Not the beginning-to-end fairy tale type of story, but a targeted message that attracts the right people and stands out from the competition.
This message is responsible for your brand positioning and how you are perceived by your customers and potential customers, influencing the perceived value of your offers and the prices you can charge.
We call this a Brand Story — and if your business doesn’t already have one, you need one ASAP.
What is a Brand Story?
Your Brand Story is a cohesive narrative that embodies the emotions your brand evokes in your customers. Your Brand Story also outlines the facts about what your business offers, what problems you solve, and what solutions you provide.
Your Brand Story is reflected in your website, advertising, product and service offerings, pricing, in-person events, your values and purpose, and most crucially, what others say about you.
I know what you’re probably thinking…
My brand doesn’t have an interesting story. Now what?
Most people think their Brand Story is the history of their brand or the story of how their business was founded. While those things can play into your Brand Story, they are only small pieces of something much bigger.
We’ll talk more about how you create an intriguing Brand Story later in this post, but first, let’s look at why your business needs a Brand Story in the first place.
“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller. The storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” — Steve Jobs
Why Your Business Needs a Brand Story
Your Brand Story is what sets your business apart from the crowd. It’s what makes a person decide to work with you versus another company. And most importantly, it’s what gives your customers something to buy into and care about.
Otherwise, you’re just another cog in the consumption machine. The worst case scenario for you is when your potential customers view your business as a replaceable commodity.
Without a compelling reason for them to want to do business with your specific company, the value of your product or service will be dictated by price and features — and let’s face it, you can only go so low on price before you say goodbye to all of your profits.
When you have a great Brand Story, the value of your offering transcends its features. Facts tell, emotions sell.
Just think of how often you gladly spend more money on something that’s virtually the same as another product simply because you like it. There’s a reason people spend more on Starbucks’ coffee than any other cup of joe, more on an iPhone than comparable phones, or why someone chooses a BMW over an Audi — stories create emotional connections.
Brand Storytelling does the following:
- Attracts the type of customers who share your core values
- Humanizes your brand and makes your business more relatable
- Gives your potential customers a vision to buy into and a reason to care
- Creates a relationship that fosters trust and brand loyalty from your customers
Now let’s look at why storytelling is so effective.
The Science of Brand Storytelling
Before we had history books, history was shared from one generation to the next through stories. Humans evolved to share and remember stories.
So it comes as no surprise that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22x more memorable than facts.
Why is storytelling so powerful?
Stories grab our attention, activate our brains, and stir our emotions. A good story can trigger your brain to release cortisol (the stress chemical) or oxytocin (the feel-good chemical). This explains why you feel anxious while watching a horror film or happy when the lovers finally get together at the end of a book.
All of this is possible because storytelling triggers a biological response called neural coupling — which means the mind of the storyteller and the listener automatically sync up because they are both experiencing the same brain activity in the same areas of the brain simultaneously.
According to Princeton researchers, “The listener’s brain activity mirrors the speaker’s activity” — leading to greater comprehension, understanding, anticipation, and retention.
In other words, a good Brand Story helps your customers know, like, and trust your business.
However, the caveat here is that you’re telling a story your customers care about in the first place. As with all things, not all stories are created equal.
Examples of Great Brand Storytelling
Whenever I think of iconic Brand Stories — the first two companies that come to mind are Apple and Nike.
Apple established their Brand Story when they launched their now-famous ‘Think Different’ campaign.
Apple positioned their customers — the artists, creators, and thinkers of the world — as the heroes, and positioned their computers as a tool that helps their customers bring their work to life.
Early adopters of Apple products bought into the vision and saw themselves as artists and creators that think differently.
Nike’s Brand Story evolved over time into one that connects with the athlete in all of us. They tell the story that all of us have greatness inside of us and that if we work hard (Just Do It) we can all be champions.
Former athletes, never-could-be athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and weekend warriors all buy into that story.
Now let’s look at some examples from businesses that are a little more relevant to what we do.
When it comes to ultra-luxury hotels, resorts, and residential communities — no one immerses you in a story better than (our former client) Aman.
Without an incredible Brand Story, Aman might not have ever succeeded because part of the founder’s vision was that they never do any advertising or traditional marketing. They built their empire on delivering amazing experiences and telling a story that their customers couldn’t help but share.
And share they did. Amanjunkies, as their die-hard customers refer to themselves, have been one of the key driving factors in their success, which is all part of their story.
Aman’s Brand Story is one of immersive, transformative experiences that authentically celebrate the local culture and scenery of their picturesque locations while offering the finest in architecture and design, along with second-to-none hospitality.
For those who want to experience the best of the best, and are willing to spare no expense, this is for you.
Banyan Tree is another example of how a company can tell interesting Brand Stories. In their case, the story is unique to each of their hotel and resort products.
They make it clear what they offer and who they are targeting in one statement: “Banyan Tree provides naturally-luxurious, ecological, culture-sensitive experiences for the discerning, responsible traveller.”
Take a look at their different products and notice how each one speaks to a particular type of person and experience.
“Rediscover the romance of travel as you journey to iconic cities or far flung destinations where authentic, memorable experiences await providing a true appreciation of where you are in the world. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has created a locally-infused sanctuary offering a place to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul in awe-inspiring locations around the globe.”
“Angsana brings the adventure back into travel whatever your age or reason to visit. Intertwining local chic and a vibrant, fun-filled atmosphere, Angsana creates amazing destination playgrounds across the world. The opportunity to surprise yourself and create lasting memories is everywhere at Angsana – whether you are tasting a local delicacy for the first time, trying out a new activity or forming new friendships.”
“A new approach to hospitality by Banyan Tree, Cassia seamlessly weaves living and holidaying together in the niche between hotel and apartment. Designed with the independent traveller in mind Cassia allows guests to define the terms of their stay through making their own choices. A truly connected environment and clever design provides the space and dynamic atmosphere to enjoy living while away from home. “
“At Dhawa, it’s all about you. A contemporary, casual and creative hotel where you call the shots. You can discover the destination, or just discover your cocoon (that’s your bedroom). So roll the dice and decide. Choose what you want to do & choose who you want to be. Be sassy. Be sweet. Fly high or lie low. Get out or stay in. Be party. Be worky. Be lazy. Be crazy. There’s no room for the ordinary.”
Moxy is Marriott International’s new boutique hotel brand that caters to millennial globetrotters. The brand is a trendy harmony of luxury-chic accommodation, youth hostel, and all-night bar.
Complete with their own video series (Do Not Disturb) and hashtag (#AtTheMoxy), everything from the sleek black and magenta colors to the Instagram-esque photography speaks directly to the 20 or 30-something struck by wanderlust.
How to Create a Brand Story
Whenever we mention the need for a Brand Story, we usually get one of the following reactions…
Yeah, but I don’t know anything about storytelling.
What if our business doesn’t have an interesting story?
Fortunately, we have a proven framework for creating amazing Brand Stories and you don’t need any of those things to walk away with a Brand Story that connect with your ideal customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about that, contact us today and we can schedule a call to see if we’d be a good fit to work with you.
In the meantime, here are a few tips to steer you in the right direction when crafting your own Brand Story.
Focus on Your Customers
Before you decide what to say, you need to first figure out who you’re talking to.
The biggest mistake companies make is thinking their Brand Story is about them.
The problem is your customers don’t care about you near as much as they care about themselves.
That’s why your Brand Story should be all about them — what they gain from working with you, what problems they get to avoid, and how their life is changed for the better.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Who are our current customers?
- Who is our ideal customer?
- What is at stake if they don’t do business with us?
- What positive changes will they experience when they do work with us?
Identifying your ideal customer and narrowing your focus to their specific wants, needs, concerns, and fears is the most crucial part of this entire exercise — but once you’ve figured it out, it makes all of your branding and marketing initiatives much easier.
Make Your Brand Story Meaningful and Emotional
A great Brand Story evokes an emotional response. Once you’ve identified your ideal customers and what they care about as it relates to your homes or services, you need to communicate to them how you can help them accomplish what they desire.
If your potential customers don’t find your story meaningful to them, they have no reason to care. Even worse — when you only focus on the features of your offering, rather than the benefits, you become a commodity with no clear value proposition.
Your Brand Story has a bigger emotional impact when you elevate the conversation from what you’re selling to what they experience when they choose to do business with you or not.
Keep it Simple and Authentic
The best, most memorable Brand Stories are simple and authentic.
If you can’t summarize your story in one sentence, you’re saying too much. There should be one main thing your business does for people and it needs to be abundantly clear what that thing is.
A great Brand Story makes it immediately clear who you ARE targeting and who you ARE NOT targeting.
In doing so, your story is more authentic because you aren’t afraid to let some people know that you’re not the best fit to help them.
The more you try to be all things to all people, the less likely you are to form a strong emotional connection to anyone. When you can draw a line in the sand and tell the world: “This is what we’re all about and this is what we do best,” your message instantly resonates with those that you’re in the best position to serve — a win-win for everyone.
The more consistently you show and tell your story, the more of an impact it has.
Maintain a consistent Brand Story across all channels, including:
- Social media
- Your website content
- Marketing emails and newsletters
- Your visual branding and product designs
- All outbound messaging and PR communications
Most importantly — your Brand Story should be reflected in your team. The people on the front lines dealing with your customers should always embody the values and principles that your brand is built on.
The Brand Story Experts
We encourage you to give some thought to what your brand is all about, how you want to position yourself in the market, and what your messaging should say.
If you find yourself struggling to figure out what to say, we can help.
We have a proven framework that’s helped businesses in a wide variety of industries attract better, higher-paying customers simply by taking a step back to build a strong foundation for their marketing strategy by implementing a new Brand Story.
If you’d like to learn more, check out the free Brand Story Training we've put together for you!