Storytelling has been an important part of the human experience since the earliest stages of our own evolution. The ability to tell stories has helped us develop in sociological, cultural and technological ways at a rate beyond any other species on the planet. It is an instinctive function we have that gives us meaning and helps define our own existence in the wider world and greater cosmos.
For these reasons alone, you should feel compelled to utilise the power of storytelling with your brand. To further strengthen the case, we thought we’d add a few more reasons to explain why brand storytelling is so important.
Brands are inanimate without stories
The first thing to recognise is that a brand is an inanimate object without a story. This may serve as an injustice to the quality and craft of your brand’s design but even this can’t be created without a story.
If you’re the creator and inspiration behind your own brand you’ll be at the heart of your brand’s own story and will know every detail of the journey. This can be both a blessing and a curse. No one knows your brand’s story better than you, which puts you in a highly authoritative position. It also makes it easier to forget that others may not know your story as well as you.
If you’ve joined a brand as an employee, you’ll have what’s closer to a customer’s understanding of a brand’s story but like most customers, there’ll also be gaps. Despite the fact you’ll no doubt have a million and one other things going on, it should be a priority to fill in these gaps.
Either way, it’s important to acknowledge that knowing your brand’s story and identifying what your customers know about your story, are the first steps to take to bring your brand to life.
Stories can be memorable
One of the most positive traits about stories is that good ones are enduring and can stand the test of time. This has been true in historical events that are remembered to this day as well as the many great works of fiction across a variety of different forms (poems, songs, novels, films etc).
Of course, not all stories are created equal but there are some basic elements that are regularly present in a good story. These elements include characters, settings, plot, challenges/obstacles and an outcome.
Thinking about a brand in these ways can feel a little unnatural at first but in most circumstances, you can create your own context around these fundamentals. In doing so, you’ll have the bones of your brand’s story laid out.
People empathise with stories
Another great quality of a memorable story is that people relate to them. They engage and respond with empathy towards them. They evoke emotional responses, often when we are least expecting and linger with us long thereafter.
Possibly the most important thing they do when it comes to brands is they help establish genuine connections with people and from genuine connections, brands build trust. No matter what service or product you’re promoting, trust is key.
More often than not, the quickest and most effective route to build empathy in a story related to your brand is to find and explore the truth behind the brand. This can be a truth that relates to an idea, philosophy, culture, identity etc, but it has to be a truth that feels authentic and honest. This truth will then be the glue that connects all the aforementioned elements together.
An important quality of the protagonist of your story, which will more often than not be the brand itself, is its personality. The stories we remember are often led by individuals with impressive skillsets and unique personalities that enable them to achieve remarkable feats.
A big step in personifying your brand is to think about it in terms of personality. What is the personality of your brand? What goals is it trying to achieve? What is its motivation? What are its ideals/opinions? What are its likes/dislikes? What is its purpose? What would your brand look and act like as a human being?
A brand’s personality and the consistency of that personality (as it’s perceived) will underpin everything that your brand is about. It will be how members of the public come to form an impression of you and inform how they choose to relate to you. It’s not just about the tone of voice but your values and if you can encapsulate that in your storytelling, the personality of your brand will be there for all to see.
Storytelling doesn’t have to be complicated
While we’ve encouraged and endorsed the uniqueness of personality we are much more reserved when it comes to the structure of storytelling, especially in the context of digital marketing.
This is contrary to other storytelling artforms like novels and filmmaking where narrative structures can be deconstructed and experimented with successfully in some very creative ways. Unlike books and movies, however, people using websites, blogs and even social media seek a much more instant form of gratification. Accordingly, their patience threshold for online content is a lot lower as a result and you’re afforded less room for complicating the structural norms.
The good thing about this is that a simple three-act structure with a beginning, middle and end works so well and has been the foundation upon which many great stories have been told. It brings with it an intrinsic sense of familiarity for a reader who can then ingest and engage with the story naturally without strain. It allows you to also concentrate on the message itself without distraction which will hopefully be more clear and effective.
The Importance of Brand Storytelling
As you can see, brand storytelling is something that makes a huge amount of sense not just for your customers but for your own identity as a business/company. Every organisation has a story to share and if you’re able to leverage it successfully, you’ll be able to build genuine connections with the public which will more than likely be of huge benefit for your business in the future.