How to find and tell your Authentic Brand Story

26 Oct 2020, Category: Branding  by Sukhbir Mehla

To stand out in an ever-growing and changing marketplace and attract passionate, loyal customers, you must have a trustworthy, relatable story to connect, engage and anchor them to your brand.

Your business came into existence for a reason; you saw a need or encountered a problem and set out to solve it; that journey is your brand story.

Sharing your brand's story is one of the most powerful ways to communicate your values and establish trust with your customers.

Why Stories Matter

In 2017, a team of archaeologists from Griffith University, Australia, discovered a rock art site they named Leang Bulu' Sipong 4 in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.

Dating tests of calcite build-up on the cave painting, depicting a hunting scene involving humans and animals, began forming at least 43,900 years ago, making it the oldest recorded human story to date.

This impressive find proves what we already instinctively know: storytelling has been around for a very long time and is a powerful human communication tool. Stories foster social cooperation, teach social norms, tell history, warn of dangers, and create bonds through the shared experience of their telling.

From our cradle to grave, we are told to tell, share in and respond to a range of visual, oral and written storytelling. Humans are hardwired to connect with stories because our brains are well attuned to process visual imagery.

In many of the studies looking at how the human brain retains information, an exercise the researchers often use is to show subjects lists of disconnected words and check their recall periodically. These tests routinely show that words alone are processed by our short-term memory, as time goes by, recall accuracy drops until eventually, the keywords are forgotten.

However, when the researchers arrange those same words to create a visual picture through a story, they appear instead to be committed to long-term memory. Study subjects told a story can often recall the keywords, with a high degree of accuracy, even years later.

So to have your brand remembered, you must present information in a way that appeals to the visual mind of your customers.

What is a Brand Story?

A brand isn't just a logo or niche, and a brand's story is not merely it's founder's biography; it is the evolution of an entity told with personality.

An excellent brand story should impart all that an entity is and all that it does in the simplest, most engaging terms. The brand story is the people, places, and ideas that form the foundation the company is built on and the mission that keeps it going and growing.

Your Brand Story is your raison d' être; it's why you exist.

While the superficial answer may be "to make money" I think we can all agree that is hardly a compelling reason for potential customers to love and trust you; after all, it is their money you are counting on!

To grow, you will need a long-term connection, that is where your brand story comes in.

To find your brand story, you will need to dig deep, to reflect and write for yourself your company's history; the mission, purpose or problem that was your initial inspiration; the people or audience you aim to serve; and the goals to which you aspire.

"To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom." Socrates

Before you can write your brand story, you need to know yourself.

Here are some questions to help you discover who you are as a brand:

  • How did your business come to exist; what is your history?
  • Who are your main characters, founders, people (real or fictional) that make your business thrive?
  • Why are your products or services different, special?
  • What are your passions; what is your mission?
  • Does your company aspire to a particular culture or image?
  • How do you make people's lives better?
  • What have been your struggles, how have you failed?
  • Why would you do business with your company?
  • What good things have others said about your company?

Once you have filled a notebook with musings and answers to these deep, existential questions about your business, you will have the beginning wisdom to condense it all down into your brand story.

Crafting Your Brand Story

Relatable and engaging brand stories always have a beginning, a middle, and an end and will contain at least one of the Four I's.

Interest

They capture our
attention.

Instruct

They communicate
meaning.

Involve

They draw us personally into the
story.

Inspire

They make us want to be or
do more.

By following this simple rule, you create a simple story in a form that people expect, which immediately begins building trust.

Decide which of the Four I's offers the best lens through which you'd like your customers to view your story.

As previously stated, to be remembered, you must appeal to the visual mind of your customers; therefore, you need uncomplicated, yet evocative and descriptive language to tell your story.

  • Beginning
    A great place to begin your brand story is by explaining who you are and what was the problem you set out to solve or the need you set out to meet.

  • Middle
    Your story's middle describes your journey, adversities you faced, how you met those challenges and solved the problem or met the need.

  • End
    The 'end' is not a finality or conclusion; in a way it is a new beginning, it imparts the excitement, opportunity and community your success produced and the potential the future holds for your business and your customers.

There are no prescriptive rules for how long or short a brand story should be, but given we live in distracting times, people's attention spans are getting shorter, so try to keep it concise while still maintaining enough detail to have character.

Telling your Brand Story

Once you have nailed down your personality-rich brand story, you need to have it inform every facet of your business, from day to day operations through to branding and marketing.

Use your story to guide and keep your business on track and connected with your target audience.

Reflect the truth of your brand to your audience in everything you do, from the style and presentation of your packaging to the staff you hire.

Sharing your brand story tells your customers "we relate to you, we understand you, we are like you" that builds trust and is something that people care about, buy into and wish to become a part of.

Need Help?

Zeemo's creative writing team are experts in trust-building brand storytelling, contact us to discuss how we can help create a powerful brand story that will connect with your customers.