I’ve written a lot about your brand story, about creating it and making sure everyone involved in what you do understands it and truly gets it. Your brand story should sum up where your business came from, what you do, where you’re going and why you do it, without being the length of a novel.
Not even a short one.
What about your brand stories? How about we start with a few things they’re not?
What brand stories are not
Your brand stories are not different versions that you tell to different audiences. That’s your brand story, made appropriate to the people you are talking to.
Your brand stories are not fairy tales. In other words, don’t fib. They might be about your brand legends. The best often are.
Your brand stories are not your advertising. But your advertising has a role to play in telling your brand story and could be part of your stories.
What brand stories are
It’s worth thinking about your stories as the added colour or flavour to your brand story. Think about it this way. Your brand story is unchanging. Where you came from and why you started is always your brand story.
Why you’re relevant now, what you’re doing for your customers today and tomorrow, what you’re getting involved in as a business…those are all stories.
Your stories should all add up to your story, and help customers understand that it’s so much more than “just” a story. It’s what you are, and what you do, all the time.
How not to tell the stories
I wanted to share an example of taking the added colour too far. I did some exploratory work for a beauty brand a couple of years ago and was impressed at first glance at the vast range of Pinterest boards under the brand name. Impressed and intrigued.
When I spoke to the brand owner, I said I was fascinated to know the story of her interest in hot rod cars. Her blank look told me everything.
Someone on the team like Pinterest and had created a whole heap of boards that they fancied making. The majority of which had little to do with any element of the brand story. Some of them were a bit at odds with the overall image of the brand.
You need two things: a clear view and plan of what stories you will tell, and clear agreement on who creates and posts them.
How do you decide what stories to tell?
There are no hard and fast rules on this one, other than above all they need to link back to the overall brand story. They have the power to add colour or to restore faith in what you do if things have gone slightly off track.
Think about the stories only your business can tell, what makes you unique. Also think about the ways to tell it, as it just doesn’t have to be in the written word. If video or photographs do a better job, then use them. Or use them as part of a mix. People like their stories told in different ways.
Be deliberate in your choices
One of the reasons that beauty brand’s Pinterest boards were all over the place is because no one had set out deliberate choices for their storytelling. This doesn’t have to be hard work. Just take yourself, and your team if you have one, off for an hour and discuss it between you.
You’re looking for broad headings that link back to your overall story. For example, for a food brand, it’s obvious that you might want stories about recipes and your production methods. So how can you take it a bit beyond the obvious? Suppliers, travels, tales from the team, your local community, your activities beyond the factory door or sales floors.
There is no limit, as long as they still meet the overall purpose of what your story says you do.
Update them, regularly
One of the things about being deliberate in your choices, it helps give you a plan of what you are going to create. You can keep going back to the list and look for new chapters in these stories. If they are at the heart of what you do, then you should never really run out of ways to tell them.
Your list might evolve as your business grows and evolves. Some parts of your original list might stop being as important. The thing is to stop and review every so often, both in terms of the results they are driving for you and where your business is heading.
People love stories; we are wired to respond and remember stories. They stimulate us mentally, otherwise, they are not stories, they’re just statements of facts. Stories fire up emotion, and emotions take us beyond just a transaction. Emotions generate bonds, loyalty, repeat purchase. Now, doesn’t that make getting your stories right worthwhile?