A brand isn’t just a set of logos and a name with a catchy slogan. To survive in today’s highly competitive, ever-changing business environment, it needs to be more – and that means unearthing the brand story that drives everything it does.
What is a Brand Story?
A brand story is a creative narrative that conveys all the facts, feelings, and motivations a company creates. The goal is to inspire an authentic, one-of-a-kind emotional reaction. From tiny mom-and-pop stores to giant corporations, every business has a brand story – whether they realize it or not. Content is the key to bring it to life.
Take a look at the content you are currently producing. Sure, it might be gaining a fair number of likes or earning a spot in people’s inboxes, but does it tell your story? Does it reveal who your brand is and why it matters to customers?
In this piece, we want to teach you how to identify your brand’s personality and story. Then, we’ll encourage you to closely analyze your current content and how it can be improved to better relay on these components to the public.
1. Define Your Brand’s Identity
a) If Your Brand Were A Person, Who Would They Be?
A key part of understanding your brand story comes from understanding its personality. Although this is something you can develop, it’s also something that is innately born with the development of your products, website, slogans, and more.
To better help you comprehend your brand’s personality, think of the human characteristics and attributes you could apply to it. For example, let’s take the giant corporation of Apple. Steve Jobs and his legacy have cultivated a very definable personality: sleek, intelligent, put-together, innovative, and futuristic.
As you develop your brand’s tone and bring its personality to the forefront, ask yourself, “Who is this brand? What makes it tick?”
According to behavioral psychologist and Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker, there’s a framework that includes five dimensions to a personality. When you look at the graph below, you’ll see five main types of brand personalities with common traits.
As soon as you look at these descriptions, you can likely think of brands that embody them. You’ve probably seen a truck commercial that showcases the “outdoorsy” trait and a tech advertisement that’s daring and trendy.
Does your brand fit into one of these categories? Or do you feel it’s scattered across several? A vague brand personality isn’t just hard to advertise – it’s difficult for consumers to grasp.
b) Describe Your Company In Three Key Words
Your brand might currently have a personality that’s a little too big and loosely defined to do you much good when it comes to storytelling. That’s why it’s recommended that you learn to accurately describe your brand in one sentence – but we’re going to ask you to take it one step further.
Defining your company’s personality in just three words will force you to really dig down to the bones of what makes your brand story unique. You’ll likely find that picking just three words is a challenge, but by the time you settle on three, you’ll have a much clearer idea of your brand’s core traits.
c) Why Does Your Brand Exist?
As you really barrel down on what your brand’s key descriptors are, ask yourself this: what is your brand’s purpose? You can’t tell a good brand story without knowing why you’re telling it.
Back in the beginning, you created your brand for a reason – and saying that you wanted to generate revenue just won’t cut it. Modern customers are increasingly looking for brands that are problem-solvers and working toward a greater good.
In fact, 89 percent of consumers believe that a brand’s purpose is demonstrated through how the company benefits society (and potentially the environment). They want to see words, products, and actions that reveal an authentic purpose that benefits others.
When you’re thinking of the words that most strongly encompass your brand’s personality, are you considering how it benefits society? Are you highlighting your goodwill or an overarching, important purpose?
Ask How Content Marketing Reveals Your Brand Story
a) Who Are You Telling the Story To?
Hopefully, by now, you’ve started to hammer down who you think your brand is. Let’s take a step back and return to the idea of storytelling.
A good story in content marketing does two things: it grabs the reader while simultaneously revealing a brand’s identity and purpose.
Let’s start by analyzing the grab the reader part: who is your reader?
Sure, you could attempt to write content that engages every kind of viewer, but in reality, that won’t help you too much. You need to write for an audience that will click with your brand’s personality.
Think about it this way: when someone writes a bio on a dating app, are they trying to attract everyone on the site? Or are they trying to find the people that will actually benefit from a relationship with them and vice versa?
Great brand storytelling via any form of content comes from understanding who your audience is, why they should care, and what they’re looking for. The more you understand what kind of story your readers are on the hunt for, the more accurately you can shape and distribute your content.
b) Do You Speak in a Personal Manner – Or Are You Faking It?
Continuing on with the concept of speaking to an audience you know, let’s talk about language. Every brand has different standards when it comes to writing and speaking – and it’s important to understand where yours lie.
When you visit Old Spice’s website, you immediately expect to be entertained.
The brand is known for being witty, comical, and downright satirical at times – and their language reflects that, even on their homepage. Customers have bonded with the brand because of its story and language.
On the other hand, take a look at Slack, a brand that is more serious but also extremely intentional with its language.
Everything about the productivity app screams efficiency, even the way it speaks to its customers and advertisers.
An important thing to remember is that you can’t just pick a voice and decide that it matches your brand’s personality. Your language needs to stem from your personality and the brand story you want to tell, not the other way around.
So, ask yourself, “Are we creating content that sounds like the authentic voice of our brand? Or are we faking it to mimic other popular companies?”
c) Where Are The Visual Aspects of Your Content?
You’ve heard the overused saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, and we’re here to tell you that it’s true: your visual content has a major role to play in your identity and the story you present to customers.
According to 64 percent of consumers, shared values are the main reason they have and maintain a relationship with a brand. They’re not just looking for good products – they’re looking for an emotional connection that goes deeper than buying and selling.
When you’re trying to reach that personal connection with consumers via storytelling and content, you need visual triggers. Studies have shown that images have a greater psychological impact on readers than statistics, and although statistics are still important, a story isn’t fully effective unless it’s paired with the right imagery.
For instance, take a look at the global shoe company TOMS.
The brand has worked extremely hard to cultivate a personality of charitable giving and dedication, and part of that comes from their storytelling in which they reveal how the brand partners with companies around the world to create positive changes.
TOMS could talk about donations left and right, striving to paint a picture of a brand that has a story to tell, but it’s clear that the imagery they select gives their brand a more emotional appeal, as well as an air of authenticity.
Where are your images coming from? What visual aspects are you incorporating, and more importantly, are they supporting the brand story you’re telling or distracting readers from it?
d) Is Your Content Honest?
Whether we’ve been discussing language as a storytelling tool or imagery, we’ve used the word “authenticity” quite a bit. A whopping 90 percent of millennial shoppers have said that authenticity is important to them when they decide which brands to support – and that’s a statistic that’s grown over the years.
At the end of the day, your content can be enticing, well-written, and full of personality, but if it’s not true to who you are, it’s not contributing to your overall storytelling ability. Value facts, truthfulness, and validity over the “wow” factor some brands adopt.
Examine The User Experience within the Content
a) Is Your First Impression Enticing to Customers?
Up until now, we’ve been talking a great deal about defining your own brand story and making changes to reveal your personality and attributes. Now, it’s time to talk about the consumers’ side of things.
When a customer sees any piece of your content, whether it be a blog, advertisement, video, or audio, they’ll form an impression. The story you’re telling will help them create an initial judgment and that opinion matters.
As you unearth the story you want to tell within your content, understand that statistically, you have about seven seconds to make a good first impression. This can’t be a long story that takes ages to tell – it needs to be immediately visible.
b) How Do Your Stories Matter to the Audience?
While forming your brand story, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Why should anyone care about this?”
Your content could house a million relevant stories in it, but if your audience isn’t making that connection and benefiting from it somehow, there’s hardly a point. Good brand storytelling is all about forging a strong connection, and to do that, your story must matter.
Within seconds of reading about Krochet Kids, a clothing non-profit, you have a clear idea of what they’re about.
You know they care about quality, sustainability, and their consumers’ trust. Bam. That’s instantly a brand that will lead others to care about their story, even if they’ve never heard about them before. Krochet Kids didn’t choose that content arbitrarily. They knew that showing a bit of their personality and story would forge an emotional, meaningful connection with shoppers who fit in their target demographics.
When people see a blog from your company or even your homepage, why do they think it matters? Can they tell right away, or do they really have to think to make it connect to their own values?
c) Will Others Tell Your Story for You?
A great brand story can be told over and over again. In fact, that should be your brand’s goal: by unearthing the story within your personality, you should hope to give customers a brand they want to talk about and a story they want to share.
When people talk about the eyewear brand Warby Parker, it’s rare that you just hear people say, “Their glasses are so fashionable!” Instead, you often hear shoppers telling a bit of the brand’s story while complimenting the products.
They talk about how WP’s goal is to make prescription glasses affordable and that their frames are hand-assembled. If they know more, they might even delve into how the brand donates eyewear to people in need.
The brand has done something remarkable by transforming its customers into brand storytellers. If you play your cards right, you can do that too – you just need the right ingredients for a story that will matter to readers and spur them to share it with others.
Your brand’s personality and story are your content’s bread and butter. It’s what drives you to connect with customers and earn their trust. In many ways, a brand with no story is like a steak with no seasoning.
Hopefully, this article has helped you bring your brand’s core identity into clearer waters. As you examine what makes your brand tick and what story drives you, remember to think about how all of this plays into your connection with consumers.