Does your business have a brand story or not?
If you are reading this post, it means you own a blog website or are planning to own one very soon.
Not just that, you also hope to create a viable business out of your blog or are in the process of doing so. That is what online marketing is all about after all!
Every blog can become a very profitable business and yours is no exception. You must learn to treat it as one. Serious businesses have a vision, mission and most importantly a brand story. It is part of the scheme to get the word out that their shops are open to trade.
You can’t afford to sit back, fold your arms while hoping for the best deals to drop on your laps. You must be out there, actively seeking attention like the others. Your brand story is one very efficient way to do that.
Storytelling and why it is so effective
Storytelling is catching on very fast today but using them for business purposes is not entirely a new concept. Medieval merchants were the some of the first to employ storytelling as a marketing strategy to sell their wares. Our modern salesman still uses this technique and gradually it has found its way into the digital space.
The art of storytelling is employed because it is very effective. So effective that scientists had to find out why!
A research conducted by Princeton University explains this phenomenon.
During storytelling, some regions of the brain (controlling language and memory) are activated in the speaker. As the listener continues to pay attention, there comes a period when the same regions of their own brains are activated too. A link of some sort is created. They both click!
This doesn’t only happen with spoken words; any form of communication is capable of creating this link.
Brand story and why successful businesses have them
Your brand story is simply a story that subtly and artfully tells your audience why you are in business while also cleverly luring them to choose to deal with you.
A simple look around some of the most popular businesses today will tell you how important their brand stories are to their success. Big brands like Microsoft, Google, Tesla Motors, etc. have unique and slightly controversial but powerful brand stories which they actively weave into every marketing effort they make.
It is because a brand story is what puts you ahead if nothing else differentiates you from your competitors. Especially if you offer similar products, similar utility and operate on the price points.
A powerful brand story builds trust and loyalty in your customer. It is the reason why some customers prefer to drive miles to get a particular brand than buying a substitute in their local grocery store. It is also, the same reason why clients keep coming back to you even after you have increased your rates. A powerful brand story can stand in as your unique selling proposition.
Your brand story personifies your business: ethics, goals, challenges and successes. It is why you should create one right away.
How to create a catchy brand story?
Creating the perfect brand story is a rigorous process. It should be. You are intending to convert absolute strangers into a loyal audience and ultimately, loyal customers after all. However, the benefits absolutely justify the efforts put into it. The process can be divided into two broad stages.
- Information gathering stage and
- The writing stage
The information gathering stage:
For this stage, all that you have to do is create a checklist to gather the information that you need. It demands a ton of active brainstorming. Do not rush through it however and ensure your information is as exhaustive as possible. The most critical questions for this session are outlined below.
What problem did you notice?
Your blog must solve a problem to be relevant. A great brand story kicks off with the identification of a problem. This problem must be integral to the goal of your blog. This goal can range from simple tasks such as pruning flowers (horticulture blog) to complex SEO tactics (for SEO and content marketing blogs).
Brainstorm and understand the problem your blog intends to solve and try to remember the event surrounding the first time you noticed this problem. This is very important.
Warby Parker, an eyewear retailer, perfectly incorporates this in their storytelling as shown in the screenshot below.
What was your response to this problem:
This is another key concept to creating your brand story. Everyone can notice a problem and ignore it. The reason why your brand story will be worth a second look is strongly dependent on your response to this problem. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. What actions did I take to remove this problem?
2. Why did I take such action(s)?
This is perfectly summarized in the following screenshot – also from Warby Parker‘s story.
Outline the challenges you faced:
In the course of solving a problem, there are bound to be challenges. A brand story that doesn’t include these challenges has already failed before it is crafted.
Customers and potential clients will be more inclined to know how you applied your ingenuity to solve a problem that you most probably haven’t experienced before. It gives an impression of genius and resourcefulness. Challenges may range from lack of funding to technical/technological handicaps. Whatever it is, ensure to scribble them down.
Outline the mistakes you made along the way
Most of us never get anything right the first time. This is why people do not take to an uneventful journey very agreeingly. They expect that you must have dedicated time and effort to get to your current expert level.
Some of the mistakes you made in the course of floating your brand may have been downright embarrassing but it can be used to your advantage. Nothing spices up a brand story better than honesty. Note down every important mistake you made on your way up.
Include your resilience boosters
The simple question here is what kept you going despite the daunting challenges?
In the story of every business creation, the beginnings are the hardest. There is bound to be frustration and irritation. These emotions are perfectly normal. They are also integral to your brand story because they portray your personality as one full of resilience. Only resilient brands survive. The weaker ones are eliminated eventually.
Some important questions include:
- What convinced you that you were the one to solve this problem?
- What differentiated your methods from others?
How did these experiences change you?
In your brand story, there should be a point where you describe your epiphany. That point is usually the point where you have honed all your techniques and skills and optimized them for the market that you want to enter.
The changes in your personality and approach to situations must be clearly documented so that your audience can appreciate the effort you channeled towards growth and mastery while on your journey to creating a viable brand.
This is exemplified in Toms’ story. A leader in shoes and eyewear apparels and humanitarian activities.
What does your brand stand for?
After introducing yourself and your struggles, your brand should be next in line. Of course, this is the point where you sell your brand cleverly while still retaining your honesty. While this section is about your brand, you should focus on your audience. The values that your brand stands for should be introduced at this point.
Look at the screenshot below from Soulcycle – a successful workout community – and notice how they cleverly introduced their business using their brand story.
Why does your brand stand for these values?
There must be a reason why you chose those values to represent the core of your brand. Take some time to brainstorm on your values and list our some of the reasons why you feel they should define your brand. It is also at this point that you brainstorm on the reasons to posit your brand as superior to existing competition.
How does your brand intend to live by these values?
The audience knows your story already but they need to be convinced that you are willing to go all the way. It is not just about stating the values that your brand stands for but clearly describing how your brand will incorporate these values into their business model. This detail of your brand story is very crucial as it is the point where most customers decide whether or not to continue with you.
Why should they support you?
This is your ultimate pitch. Every one of us wants to be a part of something special and revolutionary. That is why Apple Inc. has such a large customer base. You may not be as large as Apple Inc. at the moment but that isn’t supposed to deter you.
Any goal or ambition can be developed into a movement. A simple horticulture blog can hinge on the green energy, a health blog can hinge on longer and more fulfilled lifestyle. A copywriting blog can hinge on sincere and effective writing and so on. Just find out what your audience relates best with and you are good to go.
This is exactly what Chipotle does with their brand story in the final paragraph. A call to action is necessary, although subtle and gentle, it is still very effective
Writing your brand story
If you have completed the first stage, then you are more than half-way through crafting a powerful brand story. However, when writing your brand story there are some important hacks that you should NOT neglect.
This refers to the flow of your story. It is how each piece fits into the other. A poorly organized brand story is sure to repel your audience and cause them to resent your brand. Organizing your brand story is not difficult. If you followed the information gathering phase closely you would have a solid idea about the intended flow of your story.
In general, a winning brand story is loosely divided into:
- Your origin story: This section should talk about how you identified a problem, attempted to solve it and discovered a unique market where you can offer the skills you used in solving these problems
- Your growth story: This part talks about how you set up your brand what it stands for and why your audience should join you.
Looking closely at the information gathering stage, it is clear that there is already an order that is easy to follow.
No one likes to read textbooks for one reason – it is very impersonal.
Your brand story is not supposed to be some fact-fest. It should sound natural and human. Nothing kills interest in a story better than a glaring lack of personality. Your audience needs to be convinced that they are dealing with someone who is just like them in every way. Do not write like a robot.
Ensure that your personality is very visible in your story writing so that your audience can emotionally bond with your brand. Some tips to infuse personality into your story are:
- Own your mistakes: When talking about your mistakes ensure that you tell them light-heartedly. It’s no shame to laugh at yourself sometimes.
- Use simple languages and some popular catch phrases simply because that’s what real human beings do.
3. Language and tone:
Infusing your brand story with your personality will require that you employ a certain tone to your writing. The tone of your story will determine how the audience perceives your brand. There are two tones that you can adopt as the voice of your brand.
- The serious tone: This should not be mistaken for a stoic and unapproachable tone that only serve to scare away your audience. A serious tone should be adopted to show-off your brand as deeply committed and disciplined when it comes to solving problems. It gives off an aura of confidence that is easily contagious.
- The jovial tone: This tone is very conversational and suits brands that are mostly about dealing with people. It is very effective because it builds up a very friendly impression that is sure to relax and engage your audience. It doesn’t, however, mean you should sound unserious as that can irritate your audience and portray your brand as a joke.
While there is no ideal length for the perfect brand story you should not include so much information that will serve to bore your audience. In most cases, a brand story will be well under 1000 words but if you feel like you have so much more relevant information to share, then do the following to prevent your audience from bouncing off like tennis balls.
- Use catchy subheadings to separate one section of the story from another
- Use the quote feature to draw attention to important content in your brand story
- Dedicate each section of your story to different tabs of your page if your website supports the feature.
5. Don’t tell blatant lies:
Every story is bound to contain embellishments. It is encouraged even but there is a limit to how much embellishments you can include in your brand story. Your audience will spot a ridiculous lie as easily as they can spot red stain on a white wall. You should not go overboard while trying to impress.
6. Look over brand stories of your competitors:
This is a very beneficial activity because it gives you some sense of direction when you start to craft your own. Outline the top brands in your niche and read their stories. There’s a huge chance that they are successful because they have very captivating brand stories. Be careful, however, not to completely get lost in their own story that you cannot come up with something of your own that is original and captivating as well.
When you are done with this stage, then it is time to write, cut, edit and then write again. Ensure that every paragraph is absolutely necessary. Remove the fluff and keep your story as direct and straight to the point as possible.
Revisions are also necessary especially in the event of an expansion, a major success for your business or inclusion of a new section. Always, look over your brand story from time to time to make sure they still represent your vision accurately.
In conclusion, powerful brand stories are beneficial to your blog and business in the long run, however, be prepared to live up to the hype that your story creates. Never get so sucked into your story to include claims that you cannot back up. Your story is meant to create loyalty and trust in your customer, not lure them in and rip them off. A cleverly developed brand story is sure to boost your audience/customer attraction and retention. If you don’t have a brand story yet, I’m pretty sure you have everything you need to create one right away!