Coca-Cola sells sweet carbonated water, and Adidas sells shoes. A brand is, first and foremost, a business. But not all businesses are brands.
When you read the names of the brands mentioned above, though, it’s not only the goods they produce that come into your mind. Go ahead, and think about a brand you like for a few seconds. What thoughts and emotions do you think and feel?
The key ingredient that transforms a business into a brand is storytelling.
What is Brand Storytelling?
Brand storytelling is “using a narrative to connect your brand to customers, focusing on linking what you stand for to the values you share with your customers.”
Storytelling convinces your audience that you are not just selling your product or service. You are selling a lifestyle, a philosophy, a story. Your product is only part of your story.
Brand storytelling is what can differentiate your brand from the competition. Brand storytelling creates emotions that build intimacy and affiliation with your brand.
It’s what will help connect your business with your customers.
Brand Storytelling & The Audience
People love stories. They love telling them as much as they like hearing them: from the ancient tribes gathered around the campfire to a company of friends gathered around a monitor. Let us not forget the arts and what they all have in common: the story. Each form of art is only the medium that delivers the story.
Like in every story, the main character is the protagonist.
The protagonist is at the story's center, making all the critical decisions. The audience wonders what the protagonist’s next move will be and empathizes with their struggle and, inevitably, their success or loss.
Your business is the protagonist, and your clients are the audience. You are the storyteller – the one who delivers a good story.
You have to relate to your audience, and to do that; you have to identify your audience first.
To whom are you telling the story? What is their age, and what are their desires? What do they want to see and hear from you?
The more you know about your audience, the more relevant your content will be. It would be best if you considered your target audience without alienating your potential one.
Creating the right content for the right people is a two-way interaction. What is odd, yet engaging with this kind of interaction, is that your audience and your content will co-transform: your audience will build in line with your content while your content will shape according to your audience.
How Can You Do Brand Storytelling?
Background stories make your business look more transparent, humanizing your business and allowing your audience to know you better. These are some stories that require strategy on your part to expand upon:
A Story about your business’ birth
You don’t have to be Twinings tea, a brand that your great-great-great-great-great-(at this point, I’m improvising)-grandfather could be enjoying as much as you do now. If you have a long history or tradition, that’s great – history is fascinating to almost everyone. You will have a lot of material to go through and process and share with your audience.
Are you a new company or a startup even? That’s fine! You are history in the makings. Tell your audience what you are about: Why did you choose this kind of business, how did everything start, and the reason your company came to be? Share info and numbers that look interesting and communicate your status and values.
A Story about your business today
Give your audience an inside look at your company. What does it look like? What does your business’ building look like from the outside? What do you see from your window? What’s inside? The rooms, the desks, the chairs – where the magic happens. What tools and software do you use? Does your product’s development have anything interesting to offer?
A Story about the faces behind your business
The human element. You and everyone working for the company.
How many people are required from point A, the birth of an idea, to point Z, the audience buying your service or product?
What is each of them doing, and how do they contribute to completing the goods you produce? What motivates you and your team to go to work each day?
A Story about one of your products/services
Ok, this is not Psychology Today’s blog, but I want to share a truth: All parents have a favorite child. If you didn’t know, I hate to break it to you. (That doesn’t mean they don’t love you!).
In all seriousness, if you make/distribute/sell more than one product, chances are one of these is your favorite.
What makes it so unique? It could be a product that’s not selling too well, but you still have a special place for it. Maybe it was the first item your company ever sold or the one you found the most useful yourself.
A Story about your clients
Case studies and success stories let you showcase your customers’ experience with the business. An authentic testimonial piques interest and drives leads. Give your reader context and write a few words about what the project or product is all about.
Don’t get too technical. Numbers and how-to steps are acceptable if they are not your primary focus. If you increase your clients’ sales by 50%, mention it, but it’s equally as important to share a unique angle you took or an exciting insight you can share.
Brand Storytelling – 3 Case Studies
Let’s jump straight to 3 examples from 3 completely different industries. How did brand storytelling help their business connect with customers?
Airnbn knows how to build brand awareness.
In Airbnb’s case, the brand doesn’t sell anything that belongs to them. The service, in their case, is the customer – both Airbnb hosts and guests are built precisely on that. Instead of telling the brand’s story, they placed their customers at the center of the brand, urged them to tell their story, and made them the brand. Then, Airbnb dedicated a whole section featuring stories from the community all over the world.
The stories are likable and engaging regardless of your need to use Airbnb’s services. But they will make you want to use them.
Naturally, they share their stories through many mediums, but their favorite is the video format, Youtube being their channel of choice. Having almost 100k subscribers and more than 100M total views, they share places, people, and what they stand for across the globe: Belong Anywhere.
At a well-established point, the streaming on-demand media company realized that it had a lot of customer data at its disposal—data from millions of users.
Spotify gathered its users' music choices, location data, and demographics and combined them to create the Spotify Insight Blog.
The blog releases insights such as ‘How music taste predicts movie taste’ or ‘Which emojis are used to describe which artist or genre.’
In 2017, Spotify created an interactive site called ‘How Students Listen 2017’, using data to create an interactive microsite, examining how different colleges and universities in the U.S. listen to music. It provided insight such as genre popularity, track duration & tempo i.e.
Spotify gave their customers a sense of connectivity with others and a sense of ownership over their music tastes.
Using internal data this way helped brands like Spotify create original stories based on insights they can access.
Another Spotify’s remarkable original story: Musical Map of the World.
Dove’s mission didn’t look easy even on paper: Redefine what natural beauty is.
Dove is not selling dresses, ties, jewelry, or anything that enhances the beauty of a human. They are selling soap. There is nothing fancy about soap.
But that didn’t stop them.
In the mid-00s, during the dawn of Youtube, they launched the ‘Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.’ I can’t remember how I bumped into it for the first time, but what matters is that I, someone who doesn’t care about soap brands, was somehow watching this video: The video had gone viral – what at the time was just known as ‘popular.’
Their story made quite an impact. They said something that nowadays looks commonplace: Beauty standards are fake – Everyone is beautiful.
It is a commonplace today because this story, like others, fulfilled its brand storytelling purpose: Engaging with the audience.
Since then, Dove has launched similar campaigns. This one taps into the far-too-common emotion of insecurity, beauty standards, and how we perceive ourselves.
Our friends initially published this article at GrowthRocks.