Once Upon a Time . . . Brand Building Through Storytelling

When you’re building your brand, regardless of your product or service, there are great advantages to be had by incorporating storytelling into your brand story and marketing strategy. We’re not talking about adding goblins, angry villagers, fairies, or ogres to your brand story (unless you think it’ll make your brand more appealing?) We’re talking about the upside of strategically building storytelling into your brand.

‘Why’ you ask? Here’s why . . .

1) Because Story is EVERYTHING!
We live and breathe stories, and not just in books, movies, and TV shows. We devour stories on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis through social media channels. We see people’s lives unfold before our very eyes through Facebook posts, in bite sized (time restricted) content on Snapchat, through the aptly named ‘stories’ feature on Instagram. We, older and younger generations, are now subconsciously trained to consume stories at a phenomenal rate.

2) Because Stories Humanize Brands
You’re a development company that’s selling lots for a new lakeside housing community. Construction on the lots won’t take place for another two years. Essentially, you’re selling dirt. Selling dirt doesn’t come across as fun and groovy, and it’s light years away from being sexy. Until you give it a story. You tell stories about what will be in that community, how people are going to react to living by the lake, the health benefits of being so close to nature, the joy of enjoying a jump off the dock after a long hike. These stories humanize the brand (which is still essentially dirt) by relating to the end consumer, by showing them the future through storytelling.

By incorporating storytelling into your brand and marketing, you’ll be creating a direct conduit to the people you’re trying to reach—your customers—in a way that they’re completely accustomed to, and actually trained to respond to on an emotional level.

Which leads us to the next question: How Do You Incorporate Storytelling into Your Brand?

There are a lot of ways to add story to your brand in such a way that it’ll make it both relatable and highly digestible to your target audience, as long as you bear a few key things in mind:

1) You Can’t Handle the Truth!
That’s actually not true. In this case your audience can not only handle it, they need to hear it. Don’t dress anything up to be what it’s not. Be truthful in your storytelling and make sure it relates directly back to your company’s vision and brand identity.

2) Embrace the 3 Act Structure
Every story (every ‘good’ story) has three acts: A Beginning (Frodo must destroy the Ring), the Middle (Frodo must walk a long, long, way), The End (Frodo must throw the Ring into Mount Doom and save the world). It’s not just good storytelling, it actually ties back to the relatability factor. As consumers/viewers/audience members, we’re trained to recognize the three act structure. It’s how we know we’re seeing a story unfold.

3) Create Continuity and Sequel Potential
Brand stories and, even more so, marketing campaigns thrive when there’s a semblance of continuity. People love a sequel, or a season 2, or a festive Christmas special. Whatever story you create to coincide with your brand, make sure it has sequel potential. Is there value in this? Who knows? Why don’t you ask Marvel Studios and see what they say?

4) Be Statistical
Nothing grounds a story and makes people sit up and take notice like including statistics. Stats make the world go around and give a measurable component to your story. They also humanize your brand and link it to the consumer. For example: An adult diaper company shares the stat that X% of men are incontinent by the age of X. All the men who fall into that category now place themselves directly into your story and create an emotional recognition to your brand.

5) Give Your Story Personality
Sure, he’s ugly . . . but he’s got a great personality. Personality can get you a long way in life. Adding memorable personalities into your brand and marketing stories means you’re creating a rational point for people to focus on. It humanizes the story by giving it a face, and it gives your brand a voice with which to speak. Make sure those personalities stand out!

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people, tell them to gather wood and divide up tasks among them. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Writer