How to Tell a Compelling Brand Story

How to Tell a Compelling Brand Story

Kayla Graham

Being able to tell a compelling brand story is essential for growing your business. Why do you think so many brands—from Nike to Dove—are sharing captivating stories?

As Seth Godwin states, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories that you tell.”

Brand storytelling enables you to connect and engage with your audience on a much deeper level, building more trust long-term. But in a highly saturated market—with millions of brands vying for attention—this is no easy task. We’re here to help you with this guide today on how to tell a compelling brand story.

Brand Storytelling: A Powerful Content Marketing Tool

Humans have used storytelling to build connections since the dawn of time—just think of our ancestors sitting around the campfire telling stories. Fast forward to today, and we see marketers using stories as a powerful content marketing tool to grow businesses.

But just like with any tool, you need to use it correctly.

Brands must be able to drive attention, emotion, and engage people with their story. Content like blogs, videos, marketing material, etc., offer countless opportunities to showcase your brand story.
Through content, you can captivate your audience and get their loyalty and trust. And this results in a high ROI in the long term.

The Three-Part Model of Brand Storytelling

Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end (and as Tim Burton says, “Not necessarily in that order”). These three components are found in stories since the beginning of time.

When it comes to compelling brand storytelling, apply them the following way:

  • Beginning: Present the problem. Explain the problem that you need to solve.
  • Middle: Offer a solution. Describe clearly how you solved it.
  • End: The success achieved. Get excited about its continuation for your brand.

The Three S’s of Brand Storytelling

Storytelling should be part of your overall content plan. To fully maximize its potential for your brand, incorporate the three S’s of compelling storytelling:

  1. Set up (entice your audience by getting their attention)
  2. Seduction (sustain that attention through meaningful engagement with your audience)
  3. Success (ongoing success that further hooks and enthralls your audience)

The Foundational Building Blocks to Brand Storytelling

Every brand that succeeds with telling a compelling brand story has firmly laid down the following foundational building blocks. These are also found in storytelling from literature and film.

  • Meaning and purpose (this is the why behind your story and helps give it substance)
  • Interesting (has impact and personality behind it, or else it’s just dry and bland)
  • Relevance (helps reach and connect with your target audience)
  • Genre (entertaining, humorous, educational, or inspirational—or a blend)
  • Personal (people must feel a personal connection)
  • Adds value (improves your audience’s life in some way, so they are happy to invest in your story)
  • Affects people (a strong brand can bring out emotion and empathy in people)

The Essentials of Brand Storytelling

Once you’ve mastered the foundations of brand storytelling, you’re ready to embark on the essentials. These are what will further drive your brand and help you create that compelling story.

Have an Emotional Hook in your Brand Story

Humans are emotional creatures, and it’s been proven that we buy based on emotion. As a brand, you should take full advantage of this and ensure that your brand story has an emotional hook.

For instance, your aviation software may automate many of an airplane’s systems, but ultimately it’s making passenger’s lives much easier and safer. That’s the emotional hook of the story. You want to be triggering that emotion in the first few seconds of your content: video, blog post, etc. This way, you have your audience hooked.

Show, Don’t Sell in Brand Storytelling

In writing, there’s a common saying—show, don’t tell. Well, in brand storytelling, it should be show, don’t sell. If you study reputable and highly respected brands like Apple and Nike, you’ll see that they don’t actually do a lot of selling in their storytelling.

Instead, they sell you a dream, a lifestyle, a vision. Steve Jobs often spoke of core values and the power of people to change the world. Talking about the new computers, or the iPhone and other products, came later. So, tell your audience first about what you believe in. Later tell them how great your product or service is.

Keep Your Brand Story Simple

In a complicated world, consumers crave simplicity and the adage “keep it simple” is as true today—if not more—than when it was first invented.

Overcomplicating your brand story by bombarding your audience with different stories should be avoided at all costs. Focus on one main story with a clear narrative (beginning, middle, and ending), so you don’t confuse or distract your audience.

Inject Personality in Brand Storytelling

Personality drives your brand story, so don’t be robotic and dry. Inject character into your story. Compelling brand storytelling needs a captivating personality to tell it.

The best teachers on our planet inject their personalities into their teaching. A brand is also a teacher, so you want to do the same. This means being open, honest, and transparent.

Steve Jobs drove so much of Apple’s brand story with his personality. Jobs said, “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller.” He understood the power of storytelling.

Be Customer-Centric in your Brand Storytelling

Your customers, including your prospects, must always be at top of mind for your brand storytelling. They are the center of your story and brand. All too often, brands make it about themselves and their products and services. The spotlight is on them.

But this won’t get you far in today’s world where consumers are more discerning. Shine the spotlight on them and listen—care about their needs, wants, and desires. Make sure that they can see themselves in your story. Make it relevant to them. That way they’ll be able to connect and engage with it more.

Core Values in Brand Storytelling

What do you stand for as a brand? What are your core values? Make sure these come through every single piece of content you produce.

Great brands do this. Just think about Nike, Apple, and Microsoft. Their values come through in their content. Bring your story back to your company’s core values.
Remember, it has to be more than just only making profits. Consumers increasingly resonate and engage with brands that have good values. They trust these brands more than brands that don’t seem to stand for anything.

Get Other People to Tell Your Brand Story

Getting other people to tell your brand story is a great strategy to increase overall brand awareness and tell a compelling story. To do this, be consistent with your brand story, your content production, and be active on social media.

When these three elements are in place, you’ll naturally start generating more rapport and trust with your consumers. People will talk about you as your brand. This is where high-level word of mouth transpires (still a form of valid marketing even in the digital age).

Don’t Get Stuck in your Brand Story

Remember to share your brand story but don’t get so stuck in it that you can’t see beyond it. Some brands get so stuck in their story that they forget the ongoing journey and the evolving and constantly changing needs of consumers.

Honor your brand story, but also observe the ongoing journey and the changing environment.

Platforms to Tell Your Brand Story

Now that you know the elements behind telling a compelling brand story, you need a platform to express it. Enter content. You face no shortage of media in the digital age for content with:

  • Blogs
  • Case studies (before and after narrative-very powerful for storytelling)
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Customer testimonials
  • Marketing campaigns
  • Infographics
  • Social media
  • And many more

Build your brand and start telling a compelling brand story using the practices highlighted. You’ll see that customers will come back for more. Talking with an expert can help with devising and executing your storytelling. Book time with our team today to discuss how we can help you create a compelling brand story.