Brand storytelling has been a buzz phrase among marketers for a while. And with good reason. Neuroscience studies have shown that people are able to process and retain information better when told as stories. But, when it comes to effective brand marketing, it’s not about telling any story. It’s about telling one that resonates with your audience. Here are some tips on how to do that.
Image Credits: Etienne Girardet / Unsplash
Focus on the why, not the what
The first mistake that many brands make is focusing on their product. Instead, as Simon Sinek famously explained, brands should focus on their ‘why’.
Why do you exist? What is your reason for being? By focusing on this – the problem you’re solving – you’ll build a stronger connection with your customers. People relate to others’ experiences, particularly if they’re similar to their own.
Focusing on the why also helps you stand out from competitors. There are very few truly unique products. What is unique is why your brand makes it, so tell that story.
A great example of this is Burt’s Bees – the natural, honey-based beauty brand. The brand started in 1984 and despite their growing success over the decades, their philosophy hasn’t changed: “What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.” This is their ‘why’.
Make the customer the hero of your story
Another common mistake is to focus on the word ‘brand’ in brand storytelling. Yes, you want to communicate what you’re about. But, the best way to do that is by showing that you understand your customer. Ultimately your customers are your reason for being. It’s their challenges that you’re trying to solve with your product.
Brand storyteller and entrepreneur, Donald Miller, encourages developing communications around the traditional storytelling format: “The Hero’s Journey”. In this case, the hero is your customer and you are their guide. The stories you tell should be about them, their challenges and how you can help them.
Land Rover’s 70th anniversary campaign is a great example of putting the customer at the centre of the story. They highlight the challenges the people of Maneybhanjang in Nepal face, and show how Land Rover has consistently helped them overcome them.
Be transparent and truthful
A final mistake is when brands tell a story they think people want to hear, rather than the truth. For people to buy into the story you’re telling them, it has to be authentic. That means being truthful about the why, and staying consistent. Customers need to trust you to commit to the story you’re telling, so you need to be open. Even when things go wrong.
A real world example of this is Australian hair care brand, KEVIN.MURPHY. They are committed to producing sustainable products, and in 2018 they announced that in future all their packaging would be made from 100% Ocean Waste Plastic. When it became clear this was unachievable, rather than trying to brush the u-turn under the carpet, they owned their mistake and explained the reasons to their customers. By being open and re-confirming their commitment to sustainability in other ways, the brand was able to keep their customers on board.
Ultimately, storytelling is about building connections. As a brand, this is the ultimate goal, as connection builds trust and loyalty. By focusing on these three elements you should be able to create stories that resonate and stick with people long term.