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Telling your brand story to win customers
Since the golden age of the internet which brought transparency over pricing and a wider choice of products, consumers are savvier than ever in terms of what they buy and who they purchase from. Following the coronavirus pandemic, where trusted local businesses disappeared from the high street, and the goliath Amazon saw its biggest growth to date, consumers have now had a chance to reflect and take stock. A backlash is emerging. More of us are now choosing to buy more responsibly and from businesses that reflect our values, based on aspects like sustainability, eco-friendliness, charitability or background.
With this rise of the responsible consumer, the brands that will fare best are not those that can supply the cheapest product within the quickest timescale, but those that can prove to customers they are worthy of their money in more meaningful ways. This might include sustainable product sourcing, low carbon footprint, quality and durability of product and reliable customer service. It also means being a business that is likeable, trustworthy and makes the customer want to be part of the journey.
In order to educate your customer and build a connection, you need to unleash your brand story. This story should explain to the world who you are and how you came to be. Your story might be short and simple or quirky and happenstance, or it could be the culmination of a long drawn-out period of blood, sweat and tears, or a strong pedigree with heritage and intrigue at its foundation. Whatever the story might be, it must very honestly describe your roots, values and goals – and most importantly, tell your audience how you can support them in their own challenges and needs.
This guide explains how to create an appealing story for your brand to help win customers over and present you in the best light possible.
What is brand storytelling, and why does it matter?
A brand story provides a narrative that emotionally connects your business to your customer while showcasing your values and ethos. It can comprise many of the elements behind your brand, including your history, mission statement and goals.
It is called a ‘story’ because it has story-like components. The hero of the story is your business. Conflict will come in the form of a challenge you have had to overcome or will help your customers to overcome, and the climax will be the position you are in today – as an established business seeking to move forward.
Most significantly, the narrative you create must explain why your business exists and make customers believe that the cause you are pushing matters. By doing so, they will trust you and see you as a genuine entity, while actively wanting to support you as you reach your goals. Due to this, your brand story is essential in promoting brand awareness and warm sentiment by making you a likeable presence that people are proud to buy from and happy to recommend to their friends.
Research on brand storytelling has found that people are 55% more likely to buy a product if they love the story behind it. 44% will share the story, and 15% would immediately make a purchase after reading. This highlights the power of your narrative in winning customers over and setting the foundations for success.
However, if you want to reap the benefits of brand storytelling, you need to perfect your narrative. Keep reading to find out how to do precisely that.
Our top tips for telling your brand story
1. Understand your audience
With this understanding, you need to focus on the values they hold dear and make sure your brand story aligns. This could be the problems they need to solve through your offering, or you could appeal to their moral code by showing you support a cause they care about.
The main priority is to find the synergy, highlighting commonalities between your business and its audience and giving a reason for them to want to become loyal customers.
Let’s take the below example from Purina, a pet food brand. In their story, they clearly highlight their mission to help pets live happy and long lives. As their customer base will be pet owners, this mirrors their personal priorities in looking after their pet. By creating these shared goals, a customer is more likely to trust Purina and choose their products for their pet.
2. Ask what you do, how and why
When crafting your brand story, you need to explain the reason that your business exists. Your products, services and the processes you utilise to provide them form part of this narrative by tying into your ethos and enabling you to fulfil your mission as a brand.
If you are struggling to tell your brand story, an excellent place to start is asking what you do, how you do it and why. Example questions you might like to ask yourself include:
- What was your motivation for starting the business?
- What challenges in your life led you to become a business owner?
- How do you hope to support others through your brand?
- How do your operations enable you to serve customers?
- Do you run your business in a way that helps the wider world, e.g. through local employment and economy, eco-friendliness, social responsibility?
By answering these questions, you will start to form a natural narrative based on the interesting points about your business. You will also better understand your purpose, which will help you to reiterate it to your audience effectively.
3. Select your type of narrative
Brand stories come in various forms, each of which has a unique emphasis. These are the common focuses that a brand story may choose to take:
- Mission – focusing on why your brand exists and the challenge you want to tackle (example: Etsy)
- Founders – putting the business leaders at the forefront through their experience and vision (example: Skinnydip London)
- Legacy – looking at the history behind the brand (example: Cadbury’s)
- Vision – the future you want to create as a business (example: IKEA)
- Team – showcasing your staff and their motivations (example: Amazon)
- Customers – highlighting who you want to help, how you will do so and why it matters (example: Netflix)
The type of narrative you choose may naturally emerge as you figure out your story, based on the strengths and background of your business. For example, a legacy narrative is a good fit if your brand has been present since the 1800s. Similarly, if you have a charismatic founder with an exciting vision, you may choose to push them as the focus. It’s also possible to mix elements from each, such as focusing on the customer while exploring your company timeline (as Under Armour do in their brand story).
The key is identifying what makes your business magnetic and creating a story off the back of it, all the while relating this to the value you can offer your customers.
4. Be authentic
Your brand narrative should build a connection with customers based on trust and belief in your mission. The story you create must therefore reflect the reality of your business. If you make claims that don’t hold true to the daily operation of your business, customers will quickly suss you out, and you will lose credibility.
Make sure the values you lay in your brand story are embodied in the business decisions you make. For example, if you claim to support the environment, it doesn’t look good if you start using materials that haven’t been sourced in a sustainable way. It would be a PR disaster.
By ensuring every part of your business, from its products and services to policies and processes, fits your narrative, you can easily prove that you practice what you preach – and your customers will trust and respect you as a result. You’ll also avoid irreparable reputational damage later down the line.
5. Be consistent
While being authentic, you also need to be consistent. Your brand story should be more than just a page on your website: it should be embodied in everything you do, including your marketing and communications across all stakeholders of your business.
Your story should tie into your brand personality. This personality should, in turn, be reflected in your branding, website design, tone of voice and the key messages you put out into the world. This thread continues across your content, social media, email, video, customer service and so on, encompassing every touchpoint a customer may have with you.
By ensuring this consistency, you can live and breathe the motivations and mission outlined in your brand narrative, leaving no mistake about who your brand is and what customers should expect from you. This will enable them to understand and like who you are, helping you build a presence and favourable reputation among your audience.
6. Seek an emotional connection
Brand storytelling should make customers care about you by creating an emotional connection.
There are many ways to assist an emotional connection with your audience. Firstly, use emotive language that evokes a reaction from your audience. Your brand story is not a time to be mild – instead, create a powerful narrative that pushes the integral points about your business and values.
Next, be open, personal and above all, honest. Customers are likely to relate more to other people than faceless brands, so don’t be afraid to speak about struggles you have faced or talk passionately about what you want to achieve. This will give life to your brand, making it easier for customers to build those essential connections that lead them to want to purchase from you.
A great example is The Body Shop. Throughout their story page, they speak about the motivations of their founder, the late Dame Anita Roddick. By focusing on her vision, actions and activism, a reader may develop admiration for her efforts or share the same ethos, and goals – and by extension, will support the brand too.
7. Look to the future
The climax of your narrative should be where your business is now in relation to the mission that kickstarted your journey. However, it’s equally crucial to showcase that your company still has a road ahead, driving your development and customer experience. This means outlining your goals and how you intend to carry on embodying your values, working towards a more positive future in some way.
If you don’t have a vision, people might assume your brand is stagnating – which is not appealing to anyone.
In explaining your future, you must encourage readers to come alongside you and be a part of the journey. Your goals should give them something to want to be involved with, such as doing their bit to tackle a social or environmental issue or being part of your success as you grow. This will encourage them to become a customer today while improving their chances of remaining loyal in the years to come.
Telling your story well is essential in building the foundations of a brand that continually attracts customers and grows. It will also carve out your position more clearly within the crowded market, showcasing what you are passionate about and want to achieve, as well as your customer charter.
Most importantly, through engaging your audience, with values and a mission that correlates with their personal motivations can help to set a trajectory for your business that they actively want to be part of.
Turning customers into proud customers who return to your brand time and again. It also increases the chances of your customer sharing their positive brand experience with the rest of the world, helping you grow your customer base and drive that all-important bottom line.