The Insider’s Guide to Creating a Powerful Brand Story

By Laura Scholes, Creative Director, Copy

You’ve probably heard marketing gurus rave about how brand storytelling can turn your customers into brand fanatics. 

But if you’re confused about what “brand storytelling” actually means, you’re not alone. 

Though we’ve all been telling and listening to stories since we were kids, bringing storytelling to your business doesn’t happen naturally; it’s something you have to learn.

Before we teach you the basics, let’s take a quick look at why brand storytelling is so important today.

Why brand storytelling is critical for your business

Before the internet, marketing was pretty straightforward: buy an ad in a newspaper or local TV station and watch the sales rack up and the money roll in. 

But today, our world is so saturated with products and content, brands constantly have to fight to grab the attention of a constantly scrolling audience.

Just check out these stats:
• 44% of direct mails are never opened
• 86% of TV ads are skipped
• 45% of email traffic is spam

It’s clear that your brand has to work harder than ever to cut through the noise. And the dull, one-dimensional, product-centric marketing that’s so common just doesn’t cut it. 

Brand storytelling is the thing that can take your business from incognito status into the rarefied air shared by the likes of Apple, Tesla, and Nike.

These and other savvy brands have figured out that if they can make their stories “sticky,” they can embed their brand in the hearts and minds of their customers—for good.

If people love your brand story:
• 55% are more likely to buy the product in future
• 44% will share the story
• 15% will buy the product immediately.

Source: Headstream

Ok, but what exactly is brand storytelling?

Let’s look at what brand storytelling isn’t first. Brand storytelling isn’t just about bringing a more human touch to your marketing (though human-centered selling is great!). 

And it’s not even telling the story of your brand’s history (though if you’re a brand like Toms, please go right ahead!).

It’s about bringing your brand to life through the storytelling techniques that humans have been using since we lived in caves. 

That means infusing your marketing with your brand’s unique narrative—with a focus on what you stand for and why you exist—so you can create faster, stronger connections with your customers. 

Think about the stories you love most: Harry Potter. James Bond. Titanic. It’s a Wonderful Life. What do they all have in common? There’s a person you connect with deeply, and over the course of the story, you become invested in their success. (And that’s why these are some of the most financially successful stories in history). 

But storytelling isn’t just a Hollywood thing; it’s science. We’re genetically wired to love and respond to stories. And the power of brand storytelling was proven in the lab of scientist Paul Zak, when they discovered that people are substantially more motivated by a company’s transcendent purpose (how it improves lives) than by its transactional purpose (how it sells goods and services). 

And Dr. Robert Cialdini, author of the seminal book for marketers, Influence, identified a direct tie between good storytelling and success in the marketplace: people prefer to say yes to those with whom they share common ground. 

How to create your brand story 

To get to that common ground through brand storytelling, you’ll want to start by asking yourself questions like:
• What’s your brand’s reason for being?
• What does your brand mean to your audience beyond what you’re selling? 
• What emotions and values do you want to share? 
• What do you want your audience to feel after they’ve interacted with you? 

Here are a few more tips to get you started on creating your own brand story, one that will pull at customer’s heartstrings and make them say “you complete me” before smashing your BUY NOW button. 

  1. Know your audience Some people love Marvel movies; some love The Notebook. Different stories, different audiences. So the first thing you need to do is figure out who yours is so you can craft a brand story that’s going to resonate with them.
  2. Create your brand personality Once you know who you’re telling your story to, you need to define your brand’s personality. Think of your brand as a person: How do they talk? What are they obsessed with? What’s their favorite ice cream flavor? Have fun with this part! 
  3. Keep your story simple The simpler your story, the stickier it is. So use simple language and reduce complexity to activate the parts of the brain that connect to an emotional story. But simple doesn’t mean vague. Be specific with your details to deepen your story’s impact on your audience. 

Let Pinwheel guide the way

Want to become a brand narrator? Download Pinwheel’s complete guide to Brand Storytelling—it’s free (and it works)!

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