Every brand has a story behind its creation, including yours.
No organization is brought into the world without envisioning, planning, and executing the dreams of an individual or team. More than likely, there’s also a massive narrative behind its purpose, or why it exists in the first place. After all, what’s the reason to start a business if there is no goal in mind? Every successful brand has a history begging to be shared.
Whether you are a novice entrepreneur, or a coveted Wall Street giant, you have a story to tell. Oftentimes, people don’t associate brands with stories. But businesses don’t have to be described with dry, impersonal factoids and statistics; each and everyone has a story of inspiration, creation, and progress. In addition, one’s success is often equated with its reliability and relevance to the average person.
For example, imagine the story of how Oprah rose to fame. Ponder on the hardships she endured as a child and into adulthood. And then wrap your mind around how she has become such a powerhouse in so many realms. The difference between where she was and what she achieved is quite remarkable.
Here is are a few ways successful brands use brand storytelling to share their mission:
They don’t boast, they inspireEveryone wants to be inspired. Click To Tweet
When you boast about your successes in cold numbers and percentages, you’ll lose the majority of people’s attention. However, if you are able to describe your brands challenges and purpose from the start, you are much more likely to gain people’s attention. Everyone loves a great story, and potential clients are bound to stick with the company that they can relate to, and whom they feel has their best interests in mind.
If you’re thinking that this is a great idea, but you’re not sure how to put your brands purpose into a compelling narrative, you’re not alone. Not only is storytelling a craft that has to be honed, it can also be uncomfortable disclosing personal details to the masses. This is a brave act that exposes your vulnerability, but remember that there is strength in openness and honesty. Oprah wasn’t the only one who disclosed her past to build her brand.
Think about Steve Jobs, a man who was the descendant of a Syrian refugee, and who “foolishly” quit college. Or think about Ellen DeGeneres, who faced adversity because of who she loved.
These people and their empires stick with us because of their relatability. We don’t love Apple products just because they’re cool, and we don’t like the Ellen DeGeneres show simply because it’s funny. We follow these brands because of who is behind them and what they stand for. The average person wants to be loyal to a brand that will understand them from a fundamental perspective, not one that is disconnected and untouchable.
How to inspire through storytelling
How exactly do you tell your brands story effectively? Harvard senior lecturer in public policy, Marshall Ganz, has come up with the perfect solution for those struggling to tell their history. In his “Public Narrative Participant Guide,” Ganz poses useful, thought-provoking questions that will assist anyone in putting their thoughts into words. He reveals that within every public narrative or shared personal story are three key points. There is the story of self, the story of us, and the story of now, and all become intertwined when describing your brands purpose.
While writing about yourself may be the most difficult stage of the process, it is also the most important. There was something that happened in your life that eventually sparked the idea to create your business. It was an “aha” moment that led you to seek a solution to a problem you experienced, or possibly a way to make yours and others life simpler.
Think about this time in your life, and brainstorm about it; you can always edit later. Ask a close friend or business partner to prompt you with questions; oftentimes we don’t even credit ourselves with the pivotal moments that led to success.
Discover common stories
The story of “us” is an account of your community; a meshing of you and your demographic. How have those around you contributed to the growth of your business? Why should other individuals care about and want to join your cause? This exercise will help you zero in on your target market and how you’re going to help them.
Lastly, the story of “now” is just that — how have all of these past events between you and your community evolved into what is happening now with your brand? How is what you’re doing relevant to today’s business climate? Why should customers be interested in your purpose right now, and what motivation do they have to follow along your journey as a business? What’s in it for your clients or customers?
Get out of your comfort zone
Overall, storytelling might take a bit of effort and a stretch outside of your comfort zone, but it is proven to be an effective and powerful way to relay your brands purpose to the world. Not only that, but it is also an essential tool for growing your customer base and establishing yourself in the business world.
Think of the most successful people of our time, and of decades before us, and oftentimes it is their legacy- or their personal story — that we remember much more than any revenue statistic or marketing strategy. After all, the best marketing tool is open storytelling that inspires and connects.