Your audience wants to hear your personality.
A brand story does that. It tells the audience who you are, what you stand for, and what sets you apart. Brand storytelling extends your brand's narrative, creating a connection with your audience through shared values and emotions. Your brand story can be part of a brand refresh strategy that brings new life to your business. It keeps your core identity while adapting to the digital climate and customer needs.
So, let's look at what brand stories are all about and how they hold the power to change brand perceptions.
What is a Brand Story?
A brand story is your company's narrative. It takes customers on a journey when they engage with your brand, connecting with them on an emotional level that goes beyond products or services.
Andy Henderson, Head of Design at RCCO, stresses the importance of authentic brand storytelling –
“If it feels flat or disingenuous, if there’s no journey to take your customers on, then they aren’t going to engage. A story is what makes a business personable, people relate to stories. You feel closer to someone from hearing their history and their passion for what they want to achieve in the future.”
Why is Having a Brand Story Important?
A brand story is vital for businesses of all sizes. It's a key tool for building trust, loyalty, and a unique brand identity.
A strong brand story sets a business apart in a competitive market. It's about being relatable and authentic and building a brand that attracts loyal customers and encourages advocacy. It nurtures a sense of community and promotes sustained interaction.
In our collaboration with Ad-lib.io, we crafted a brand story highlighting their innovative approach and customer-centric values. This narrative contributed to Ad-lib's development into a $100 million brand. It shows how a brand story can shape the perception and success of a business.
Essential Elements of a Brand Story
A brand story combines several key elements together. Let's look at these essential parts of a good brand story.
Authenticity plays a key role in your brand story. It should mirror your brand's true nature, not create a false image. Showing realness in your story helps build trust and credibility with customers. They appreciate authenticity and can sense when a brand is honest about its identity and values. This transparency forms the basis of solid, enduring customer relationships.
2. Consistency across touchpoints
Consistency in branding across all touchpoints - your website, social media, packaging, and even customer support – fosters recognition and trust. There’s no point in putting all your efforts into making your brand identity clear and memorable if it isn’t consistent on all platforms.
Imagine someone experiencing your brand for the first time through Instagram and then visiting your website. If they find the same story and feel the same vibe, it helps build the connection.
3. A compelling narrative
Your brand story needs a narrative structure that captivates your audience. It should start with a beginning, move through a middle, and have an end – this is the journey you take customers on.
A good narrative makes your audience feel part of your brand's journey. This engagement makes your brand's story stick in their minds, which turns passive leads into loyal followers.
4. A clear mission and values
Your brand's story should centre around your mission and core values.
- The mission states the brand's goal
- Values highlight the beliefs driving its actions.
Your story's clear mission and values help your audience find common ground with your brand. This fosters a sense of belonging and shared purpose.
5. A problem and solution
A great brand story starts with a relatable problem. It then showcases your brand as the solution.
When you present a problem, your audience feels heard and seen. That's when your solution - your product or service - steps in as the hero. This approach positions your brand not as a seller but as a problem-solver.
9 Steps to Create a Compelling Brand Story
Creating a compelling brand story involves careful crafting and a deep understanding of your brand's essence.
Here are nine steps to guide you through the process.
1. Know your brand inside and out
To craft a compelling brand story, begin with a thorough brand audit:
- Explore your brand's history: Understand where your brand came from and its journey so far.
- Clarify your mission: Define what your brand aims to achieve.
- Identify your values: Pinpoint the beliefs and principles that guide your brand.
- Highlight unique selling points: Determine what sets your brand apart from competitors.
A comprehensive analysis of your brand's identity lays the groundwork for your story. Knowing your brand inside out ensures you have an engaging story that’s true to what your brand stands for.
2. Define your target audience
First, define your target audience to create a brand story that hits the mark:
- Identify your ideal customers: Who are they? What are their demographics?
- Understand their pain points: What problems do they face that your brand can solve?
- Know their aspirations: What are their goals and dreams?
- Learn their preferences: What do they value in products or services?
Tailoring your story to meet these aspects ensures it resonates with their needs and emotions. A well-defined target audience means your story speaks to those who matter most. It makes your brand relevant and engaging to the right people.
3. Craft a narrative structure
Develop a narrative structure for your brand story. Consider using the classic "hero's journey" or a linear progression – these fit well with different brand journeys.
The "hero's journey" places your customer as the hero, with your brand aiding their journey to success. This format sells your brand but also makes your customer feel at the centre of the story.
A clear structure makes your story easy to follow, which helps your audience connect with your brand's path.
4. Emphasise your brand's mission and values
Highlight your brand's mission and core values in your story, and show these values guide your brand's actions and decisions:
- If you have sustainability as your mission, demonstrate this in your product choices and business practices.
- Similarly, you may have customer-centricity as a core value. You can share stories of outstanding customer service or products developed based on customer feedback.
Aligning your story with your brand's values connects your audience with your purpose and principles.This deeper bond creates longer-lasting relationships with your audience.
5. Weave in relatable characters
Characters add a layer of humanity to your narrative. They transform it from a mere business tale to a relatable, emotionally engaging story.
Imagine sharing the journey of your founder, where their passion and challenges breathe life into the brand's mission. Or consider the stories of your employees, whose dedication and experiences reflect the brand's culture and ethics. Even customer stories can play a vital role showing the real-life impact and value of your brand.
By weaving in these personal elements, your brand story becomes a collection of human experiences that resonate with your audience.
6. Keep it concise
While creating depth in your brand story, remember to keep it concise. Focus on the most impactful elements and avoid adding unnecessary details.
Conciseness in storytelling ensures that your audience stays engaged and grasps the core message. A detailed story risks losing the audience's attention. Concentrating on the essential parts makes your story more digestible and memorable.
7. Ensure consistency
Ensure your brand story remains consistent across all channels and touchpoints. Whether on social media, your website, or advertising, the story should align with your brand's visual and verbal identity.
For instance, the tone of your story should match the language used in your marketing materials. The visuals should reflect your brand's colour scheme and style.
Maintaining this consistency reinforces your brand's message and strengthens brand recognition and trust among your audience. Customers who encounter your brand in different places should recognise and connect with it.
8. Test and refine
Before finalising your brand story:
- Test it with a segment of your target audience.
- Share the story with a small group and gather their feedback.
- Pay attention to their reactions and opinions.
After sharing your story, get answers to the two important questions:
- Are they connecting with the characters?
- Do they understand and relate to the core message?
This testing phase helps you understand if your story resonates well with your audience. Based on the feedback, refine your story. Adjust elements that don't hit the mark and enhance those that do.
Great Brand Story Examples
Great brand stories shape a company's identity and forge deep connections with audiences. Here are some exemplary brand stories that demonstrate how a well-crafted story can captivate, inspire, and foster a strong, loyal relationship between a brand and its customers.
PureGym, the UK's largest gym chain, excels in innovative fitness solutions. In partnership with RCCO, they've crafted a compelling brand story around their marketing strategy. This includes creative campaigns like:
- "Just Another Year to Get Stronger" where we helped to showcase the impact the pandemic had on the puregym community and how their team continued to strive and uplift throughout
- "Free to Be" where we helped PureGym communicate it’s values to promote inclusivity among staff
- Its "National Relay" connected gyms across the UK for charity, and our high energy brand film and social assets helped PureGym raise over £300k for Mental Health UK.
- The "Rise and Shine" campaign, where we helped PureGym create an empowering, honest and emotionally compelling video campaign to celebrate Pride month 2022 and show PureGym as an inclusive work and gym space.
PureGym's story focuses on resilience, community, and inclusivity. It strengthens its position as a fitness industry leader.
Patagonia, renowned for its durable outdoor clothing and gear, stands out for its commitment to environmentalism. They've woven this dedication into their brand story, using it in marketing campaigns. Their Worn Wear program exemplifies this by addressing the issue of clothing waste. The narrative starts with the global issue of excessive clothing production, leading to high waste.
Patagonia presents a resolution with Worn Wear, which refurbishes used items to a like-new state at discounts. This initiative reduces landfill waste and provides quality gear to new users.
Patagonia's story skillfully combines product excellence with environmental responsibility. It resonates with eco-conscious consumers.
3. Mercedes Benz
Mercedes-Benz, known for its distinctive three-pointed star, represents perfectionism and exclusivity. Mercedes-Benz cars, renowned for their advanced engineering, cater to a premium market.
In the story, a father drives his son to the cinema in their Mercedes, navigating through heavy snow. The suspense builds as we wait to see if the son's date will arrive, and another Mercedes-Benz appears.
This ad cleverly highlights the car's features while connecting emotionally with the audience. It reinforces Mercedes-Benz's image as a reliable and luxurious brand.
Apple has always stood out in its marketing approach. Steve Jobs' philosophy of "it’s better to be a pirate than to join the navy" influenced many of Apple’s iconic product launches.
A prime example is their groundbreaking Super Bowl ad. Inspired by George Orwell’s "1984," the ad featured a rebellious spirit against conformity. It cost $650,000 and almost didn’t air due to negative test group feedback.
Apple's secret lies in taking risks. This ad, aired during a politically charged climate, made a bold statement about American politics and its rivals, particularly IBM. It declared Apple as revolutionary.
Ignoring test groups, Jobs and Wozniak chose to air the ad, which paid off, becoming one of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials.
Refresh your story
From authenticity to emotional engagement, your brand story plays a key role in your brand's identity and how you connect with your audience.