Every brand has a story. And that story is how people come to understand your store, your concept, your fashion label, or whatever else it is you are creating. Telling that story well is a crucial element of brand success and making sure your business lives up to its potential.
We’re running down the who, what, why, and how of brand storytelling, and exploring the things you can do to tell your brand’s story as cohesively and concisely as possible.
What is ‘Brand Storytelling’?
First and foremost, your brand has an inherent story which is the story of why and how you started. It’s how you came to be, how the idea became reality, and the hard work you had to put in to getting to where you are today. That story is key to your brand and helps provide an invaluable asset to your company: authenticity. More on that later.
Secondly, brand storytelling is how you tell the story of your brand across your different channels. This encompasses marketing, advertising, in-store experience, your website design, and so much more. How you educate and illustrate what it is that you do and how you can help is a story that you tell to potential customers. Making this story engaging and connecting with the right people is critical, as is the case with any good story! After all, a story told to an uninterested person falls on deaf ears.
Why is it Important?
You could have the most important and innovative product on the market, and without an engaging story it could go nowhere. Back in 2013, the Boston Consulting Group conducted a study of consumers, finding that “being authentic was indeed one of the main qualities they said would attract them to a brand. For younger “millennial” consumers (born between 1980 and 2000), it was second in importance only to rewarding their loyalty with discounts.” It’s 5 years later, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down.
Furthermore, in a crowded marketplace, setting yourself apart has more to do with the way that you talk about your product or store or concept and only so much to do with the actual product itself. And it’s not just about what you’re saying, since details do matter, but about how you’re saying it. Storytelling bridges that inherent gap. To quote Econsultancy, “[storytelling] is one of the fundamental ways we communicate ideas, educate and entertain each other from infancy. We remember information far better when it’s in the form of story rather than as a list of facts.”
Who’s Doing it Well?
Warby Parker, the online eyewear service that revolutionized how we think about shopping for glasses, did so in no small part due to their fantastic storytelling. Not only does the story start from an authentic place, with one of the co-founders having lost his glasses on a trip and then continuing on blindly (yep, pun intended) without the money needed to buy a new pair (if you don’t wear them, you should know that glasses are expensive, and for no good reason!); furthermore, they’ve painted themselves as upsetting a massive industry, and play the underdog card well!
While they are much cheaper than their competitors, they’ve managed to avoid being considered ‘cheap’ through their sophisticated content writing, using words that elevate their brand all while undercutting mainstream eyewear companies.
Take, for example their mission statement: “Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.” Take that in for a moment, and see how their word choice plays so effectively into their story. At their core they offer a service for glasses, an innovative concept in its own right. But the story they tell provides so much more for their brand, giving it a reason, a personality, and an engaging tagline.
What Can You Do?
Take a good hard look at your business, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the game for a while. Evaluating where you are an where you’ve come from will give you the best ideas for how to tell your story succinctly.
Find some defining keywords that make your brand stick out and dive into them. What are the elements that you provide that differentiate you from your competitors? What are you doing but better? Focus on these and make yourself shine by comparison! (As a side tip, it rarely helps to go negative. Staying focused on what you do and what you offer is always the better way).
Finally, in terms of actually writing your story and how your content should be expressed, we have a few tips there as well. A good storyteller knows when to elaborate and when to cut right to the chase. Take a look at the copy you are writing--is it too long? Is it clear? How can you say what you want in as few words as possible. Oftentimes what helps is taking not one, not two, but three passes at your material.
The first is for you to jot down what you want to say. Often this is informal, and you should treat it as if you were simply talking to someone. What would you say about your brand in conversation? What would you highlight?
Next, come back to that first pass and touch it up. Put in the words that you feel would make it sound ___er (smarter, funnier, bolder, whatever you are going for with your messaging). Finally, leave it for at least a night and then take your final pass. What should stay? What should go? Is it as clear as you originally intended?
With all this in mind, what really helps at the end of the day is being mindful. There are plenty of people out there doing very similar things. And often the biggest difference in success is who can tell their story well. All that’s left for you to do is be the storyteller for your brand.