Every business starts with a story. Branding comes down to so much more than a logo and website architecture - it’s also about sharing your journey with your audience. Doing so helps to create more meaningful, emotional connections with your target market, demonstrating to them why you exist in a ways that they can clearly understand, with the goal ultimately being converting your audience into loyal customers.
Where to start?
You don’t have to be a business with a decades-old legacy to have a great story. Back in 2009 Entrepreneur Magazine set some guidelines for a good brand story:
It must be true
It has a human element
It serves the customer
Let’s break them down.
1. It must be true
This one’s a no-brainer, really. Even if the story isn’t necessary mind-blowing, it’s important that it is true. Audiences are very savvy when it comes to marketing, so it’s important to stay authentic and genuine, so that you can build trust.
2. It has a human element
If your brand is missing personality, it’s difficult for your audience to relate to you. In the content-saturated world of social media in particular, it’s important to stand out by fostering real, genuine relationships with your audience - and that all starts by creating content with heart.
3. It’s original
Again, this about building trust with your audience. Whatever you create, keep the copy original, the design original and make sure it’s created in your brand’s voice. Audiences can quickly lose interest and trust if they see an idea that has already been executed by another brand before. The exception here is creating content that is based on a trending meme or viral video (remember the mannequin challenge? Or cheese slapping videos?). So long as you aren’t unfashionably late to the party, creating content that fits in with those fleeting trends is a great way to get people talking about your brand.
4. It serves the customer
Every business provides a service at the end of the day - and the same rings true of content. Just like you’d put the customer first in practice, keep your audience at top of mind when creating content. A good way to test this is to ask yourself: “What’s in it for me?”. It’s important to balance education and entertainment - give your audience a reason to keep thinking about your business after they’ve engaged with your content.
Sell your story
Storytelling is just one piece of the puzzle. Storyselling is about taking that great story and sharing it in a way that will generate real results for your business - be it leads, click-throughs or other. Here are three steps to get you started:
1. Cut through the noise with eye-retaining content
Really, there are so many brands out there sharing their stories in similar ways, it can be hard to ensure that you audience isn’t feeling fatigued from things like product demos and customer and staff testimonials. Humour is a great way to capture and retain your audience, and even encourage them to share your story with their audiences. This is particularly effective if it’s unexpected of your brand (but still aligns with what your brand is about, of course)
2. Make the path from consumer to customer easy
Content marks the start of the consumer journey, so ensure that some pieces of content are coupled with a clear path to purchase/sign up, whether that’s a call-to-action (CTA) or an embedded link. Ensure the CTA isn’t dominating to the point where your content is lost in the way of a hard sell - or that your audience feels pressured to take action.
3. Test, test, test
Audience tastes change as quickly as the weather, and some quality content can take weeks to put together before it goes up on social. Engage in weekly and monthly reviews of your company social channels to identify trends to build on. Are there particular types of content (video, blogs) that people engage with and share more? Are there content topics your audience likes more than others? Do audiences respond better to personal anecdotes? Adjusting your content plan to respond to changing tastes will keep your engagement building and your audience growing.