Who doesn’t love good stories? We’ve been hearing all sorts of bedtime stories as a kid and now, we read them all over the Internet as an adult. Although the form of telling stories have evolved over time, one thing remains the same: The need to hook your target audience into wanting to know more and buildup of anticipation that draws other people’s attention.
Storytelling is an essential tool in building your brand, captivating your audience, and creating a community of loyal brand advocates. As someone who worked in the PR and advertising industry for almost a decade now, here are some tips in crafting your brand story:
Understanding the Impact of Storytelling
The earliest documented form of storytelling is cave drawings from around 30,000 years ago! Even today, the discovery of these visual stories tell the realities of life and survival.
Then came oral storytelling. Songs, chants, and other stories about epic adventures and important milestones passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth ensured these pieces of history stayed alive.
When machines like the movable-type printing press came about and people had better documentation systems, stories then began to travel. Newspapers, books, and other inked documents reached a wider audience to spread more information.
Today, storytelling has the same structure, but comes in different forms, on different mediums, and moves even faster. In the digital era, the Internet has helped storytelling evolve: photos instead of cave drawings; videos and podcasts as oral storytelling; blogs, articles, and even captions and comments as written stories!
Media platforms have also developed to cater to the specific stories we tell. Instagram and Pinterest, for instance, are your modern ‘caves’; X (formerly Twitter) would be the go-to for the written word.
With the evolution of this art, the channel you use to tell your story becomes as important as the story you tell. When the right stories are told on the right platforms to reach the right audience, they make an impact!
This is something brands need to remember. Done right, it could lead to:
1. Active Emotional Engagement
Stories help tell what your brand is all about. Providing brand context in the form of relatable stories throughout your brand lifecycle helps keep your audiences invested and emotionally engaged. When they know you better, they engage more actively.
For instance, fledgling brands can post creatively crafted introductions to who or what the brand is, what it stands for, and who it’d like to reach. Follow it up with stories of real-life applications and brand benefits, and post it all on the channels relevant audiences are on. See the impact on engagement then!
2. Better Brand Retention
Consistently telling brand stories on the right platform will not only help your audience understand you better. It may also help them emotionally connect to and advocate for you.
They begin to associate your brand with an emotion (ideally a positive one). When evoked, your brand comes to mind.
Think of the brands who have stories you know by heart. Who doesn’t know the series of Kwentong Jollibee, for instance? These short films have gone globally viral with their nostalgia-inducing portrayal of their customers’ real-life experiences.
Touching, relatable stories such as these are most likely to be retained and retold by your audience in association with your brand.
3. Decisive Consumer Action
With a deeper audience connection thanks to stories that resonate, you can now inspire action.
Say you are an advocate of a zero-waste lifestyle. When you tell people about your experience through artfully crafted, non-preachy, relatable stories, it may influence others to adopt the same lifestyle.
As long as audiences feel like they know your brand thanks to the stories you’ve shared, it is easier for them to decide to support you and heed your call to action.
Now, how exactly does one ‘do storytelling right’ to get engagement, retention, and action?
Read on to find out.
Think back on your primary school lessons on the basic parts of a story: the theme, the main character, the supporting characters, the conflict or climax, the resolution, and the moral of the story. Let’s apply this to branding:
- The theme
In crafting your (brand) story, have a theme in mind. This will establish the atmosphere and context, the start of the character’s (your brand’s) journey, and will give readers a glimpse of what to expect next. Examples of brand story themes include love, family, self-care, growth, freedom, nostalgia, positive change, and more.
- The main character
Main characters help give a focus as you navigate the plot. It also helps with the relatability factor. In crafting a story, remember that your business is the main character! Thus, this protagonist must connect with your audience on a personal level while staying true to the business’ core values and goals.
Brands with their founder’s namesake personify their story’s main characters pretty quickly. For example, family-favorite local restaurant Little Quiapo, known for their dishes like pancit and halo-halo, constantly puts the founder – the current operator’s grandfather – in the spotlight. Even without a real person, you can personalize and personify your brand to exude that #MainCharacterEnergy.
- The supporting character
Supporting characters are best portrayed by the elements of your brand. Your brand is the main character, so key components of your brand can be supporting characters. Think of your key messages and content pillars. Your audience – and their testimonials and reviews – can be supporting characters, too! Use these in the entirety of your brand story carefully.
- The conflict
Like any other story, a plot with a conflict can make it more compelling. This isn’t to say conflict is always required of brands. However, when you have compelling stories of rising above adversity and crises, it’s not a bad thing to incorporate that into a well-rounded brand story. In capitalizing on ‘conflict’ or struggles that your brand has itself experienced, always keep sensitivity, empathy, and compassion in mind.
- The resolution
If there is conflict that moves the plot (or the brand story) forward, the resolution brings closure to the story and provides a sense of satisfaction to the audience. This will help gain audience buy-in and enhance that relatability factor further. No resolution in sight for the conflict yet? The key is to exude sincerity in your brand story. You may find that, when touched by an authentic brand story, your audience will be with you for the ride until the resolution comes!
- The moral of the story
Go back to your theme. How does this apply to real life? How does your brand make your audience feel? What actions do you want them to take now that they know your brand story? The ‘moral’ of your brand story could be guided by these questions.
Take Nike, for example. They focus on stories about conquering self-limiting beliefs and Just Doing It. There’s a nice takeaway!
Simply put, your brand’s purpose – your biggest Why – is your brand story’s moral.
- BONUS: the composition makes the connection
To truly connect with your audience, you need to make sure they understand your story. It’s easy to sound intelligent – maybe even sound like an AI – but remember that your audience are real people with real emotions who love to read real stories and maybe even do something about the feelings evoked thereafter.
Thus, part of the art of compelling brand storytelling is using words that your audience uses to drive home that emotional connection. Do millennials and Gen Z have different vocabulary? Is formal writing required of broadsheets where creative writing is needed for social media memes? Make that emotional connection with the right choice of words.
Still unsure of how to apply these elements to your ultimate brand story? It can be confusing and intimidating at first. It’s an art, after all. It’s an investment.
So here’s our final tip: Collaborate with experts, such as one of the top PR agencies in the Philippines, to help you craft your brand story. You’ll be ensured of a compelling brand story created with more personalization and intention for a more purposeful and effective impact.