How to Create a Brand Story that will Engage Your Audience
Every business needs to write a great Brand Story. Why? It’s simple.
You want someone to remember something? Put it in a story.
There’s a reason why stories are passed down from generation to generation, sometimes over the course of thousands of years.
Origin stories, stories of compassion, stories of peace and bravery. Stories engage us in a way that no other type of information can. They draw us in and allow us to connect with them in a human way.
So if you want to connect with your customers and really get your message across – it’s time you learned how to write a great Brand Story.
What is a Brand Story?
A Brand Story is the what, the how and the why of a brand’s core.
Why did you invent that product? Why should people use it? How did you build your ideas? You business? What are you trying to achieve?
Stories allow us to get emotionally involved with the characters and events that happen. If you can get your audience to care about your brand then they will be =come customers for life.
Your Brand Story is an authentic, engaging and vivid account of your what, how and why.
Does your Brand Story have to be real?
Lots of successful companies have Brand Stories which are, frankly, pure creative writing. Just look at Hollister.
Originally, Hollister (an American surf lifestyle brand – sister brand to Abercrombie & Fitch) said it was founded in 1922 by J.M. Hollister. This adventurous surfer Hollister emigrated from NYC to the Dutch East Indies and then went on to found the company in California.
Very beachy, very historical – you can see how this might appeal to its core American audience.
But none of it was true.
On 20 July 2015 The New Yorker published an exposé The Actual Hollister, wherein he tore apart the fictional brand story and exposed it for what it was; a marketing ploy.
While this may not seem like the most scandalous piece of news, it may well have made loyal Hollister wearers feel a little duped. They weren’t buying in to a historic brand like one might buy a vintage Burberry trench. They were buying into a company founded in the rather modern year 2000.
And do you want your customers to feel duped?
Creating an Authentic and Engaging Brand Story
In my opinion, your Brand Story does have to be real. Honesty creates trust and trust creates loyalty. What could be better than that?
The reason why many brands create false Brand Stories is because they don’t think the real story is interesting. And that’s why they need a creative copywriter – not a work of fiction.
Anything can be boring if told in a boring way.
Steve Jobs sat in a garage, fiddled with computers and never went on drunken adventures in college. Boring eh?
But it’s not boring when you’re told that this young man wanted to change the world. He wanted to create beautiful technology that worked better than any other technology. He had a garage and he had a dream. And now that dream is real and it’s called Apple.
Nothing boring about that.
You Brand Story won’t be boring either. You just need to find out where the excitement is.
The core of your Brand Story
It’s not just a case of creating a story and posting up on your About Page. For a story to be powerful, it must be relatable. Your target audience must be able to relate, feel and connect with your story.
If you’ve created the most comfortable hiking sock on the planet, you target audience is probably hikers. Established hikers, long-distance hikers, hikers who have oddly shaped feet, people who want to hike but dislike discomfort.
So your Brand Story isn’t going to connect with them if it’s about how you and your co-founder were watching your child’s football match and she ran across the pitch at half-time to tell you her socks were itching.
The core of your Brand Story is your audience.
Shape your story about what they want and how you want to help them get it.
Get your audience into the story
Stories get deeper they more they are told and thought about.
With social media, Brand Stories are taking on even more of a life with hashtags specific to that brand. Now, just by writing a specific hashtag, a customer can get their Instagram post showing up to that company and its users. They connect themselves.
Instead of just drinking a Coke, customers take a photograph on that Coke can at a beach bbq and tag #ShareACoke and suddenly they’re part of the movement. Or take Stance socks and their hashtag #theuncommonthread – take a picture of your Stance hiking socks and tag it – boom – you’re part of their movement.
Connect offline too
It’s not just about hashtags though. The offline world is a powerful place and if your Brand Story survives out there, it’s a strong one.
Imagine if those hiking socks we were talking about weren’t just a pair of hiking socks. What if they were the only pair the founder had. What if they had trekked two thousand miles across South America, being washed in streams, hung up on exotic trees and warmed feet on cold desert nights?
Suddenly they’re not just comfortable hiking socks; they’re a hiking companion. Soon it won’t be a hike without those socks in the same way that some students never take exams without their lucky pen or that exact pair of pants.
People form these kinds of connections with possessions on their own but a successful Brand Story can help them form connections with your product. Who doesn’t want to own treasured possessions?
Five things to think about to help write a great Brand Story
#1 – What is your aim?
Example: I want to create the most comfortable hiking/sport socks in the world.
#2 – Why?
Example: As a sports therapist I kept seeing athletes, hikers, adventurers and weekend runners with the same types of injuries. I knew that with the right support, design and fabric, a perfect pair of socks could eliminate those injuries.
#3 – Relatable characters
Example: Emily signed up to an off-road marathon and raised money for a charity close to her heart. Throughout her training she tried different types of shoes but could never eliminate the rubbing between her toes, the pinching on her achilles or the sweatiness in her shoes. So distracted by her discomfort, she started losing morale and put off going out to train. Then her sister bought her a pair of these socks. She finished the marathon in under 3 hours and her feet didn’t even complain.
#4 – Encourage connections
Example: Ascent on Ben Nevis preparations: Water. Check. Compass. Check. Map. Check. Snacks. Check. Phone. Check. Super comfy socks. Check.
#5 – Keep it consistent
If your Brand Story is all about the most comfortable socks, suddenly selling river water filters isn’t going to mix well.
Like all stories, it must evolve in a believable and natural way. Harry got a letter, went to Hogwarts and made a series of discoveries leading him to a battle. Voldemort didn’t just show up in Privet Drive in the second chapter and demand a showdown.
Staying consistent will allow your brand to build up a reputation for good products based on an authentic reason. Of course you can expand, but expand in a way that makes sense for your existing audience and your Brand Story and ethos.
Writing your Brand Story
Writing a Brand Story is difficult. It needs to take into account a lot of things. Sometimes we’re too close to our brands to write their stories effectively, or we’re oppressed by the expectations formed by similar brands.
Be free to play around with your story, no one will see your drafts. Write crazy things, exaggerated things, romantic things, brutally honest things. See what sounds and feels write. See what brings up emotion in you because if you find it captivating, chances are others will too.
Need a little help?
If you need some helping creating your Brand Story or just want someone to edit your existing story, then give me a shout.