Brand storytelling

Storytelling is an ingrained part of every culture, and an engaging way to communicate and build connections with your audience. When you work in marketing or e-commerce, creating impactful brand storytelling can make you stand out from your competitors.  Read on for more details. 

Brand storytelling

How this guide raises your game.

1. Learn why it’s important to define a story purpose of entertaining or educating.

2. How to use the principle of the story arc.

3. Where you can use storytelling in your marketing and e-Commerce activities.

Storytelling is embedded in our way of life as a way to entertain, educate, preserve cultures or instil moral values.

Brands and business that want to connect with consumers use brand storytelling to help articulate what the brand stands for and what it does. This is a great way to build a memorable presence in the mind of the consumer. 

So how do you as a brand or business owner create stories that you can tell to help grow your brand?

Storytelling on stage - woman presenting to audience

Entertain or educate?

For most businesses, the purpose of most of their brand storytelling is to entertain or educate

So a good place to start is to be clear on why you want to tell a story. 

Entertaining

Stories that entertain add value to the consumer. They might be humorous or scary or dramatic.

But by entertaining someone, you create an emotional bond with them. You influence how you want them to feel.

Woman on couch reading

Entertaining stories are often easy to remember and pass on. They can become a way of reinforcing a brand or company’s values and personality.

For example, read The HP Way by David Packard* about the origins of Hewlett Packard. He tells a great story about how competitors in the early days of the business would lock up all their tools at the end of the day. They feared that employees might be tempted to steal the tools.

But a lot of the culture at Hewlett Packard was built around the concept of trust in their employees. Packard shares the story of how they went the opposite way. No locked cupboards. Employees could do whatever they wanted with the tools … because they trusted them.

This is a very simple story which is much better old in the book. But it is a very neat way of highlighting a complex issue (trust). It does it in a way that is easy to visualise and share with others. The use of the ‘no locked cupboards’ story is a great way to bring to life the culture of trust at Hewlett Packard. 

Educating

If your story exists to educate, there are many examples of where brands have used stories to bring to life an education message.

Brands that have a clear purpose particularly in the non-profit sector are great at this.

One of our favourite brands is Who Gives a Crap who share the story of why they came to be. By using the privilege of access to safe sanitation in developed counties and setting up a system where buying toiler paper from them helps improve toilet facilities in underdeveloped countries is a great and inspiring story.

Whatever your brand story is, how then do you go about building that story?

The story arc 

Most stories will follow a common structure, In very simple terms, they will have a beginning, a middle and an end. But each of those is also usually set up so that the story follows a particular story arc. 

In the beginning, we get to meet the characters and understand the context and environment of the story. There’s usually some sort of issue, crisis or problem that needs to be solved that creates a tension or struggle for the characters. Think of your favourite movies or books and you’ll find most start this way. Princess Leia being captured by Darth Vader in the original Star Wars. Allied soldiers captured by Nazis in The Great Escape. Mr Blonde shot in the aftermath of a diamond heist in Reservoir Dogs. We could go on.

The middle of the story usually builds the struggle to overcome the initial challenge as it builds towards a climax and then the resolution of the issue at the end of the story. The evil empire is defeated. The soldiers get killed or escape. The diamond robbers the same. 

So your beginning story could start with the customer need not being met that you saw. Then your middle could be the things you did to get your brand up and running. And now your end story is where you are now, solving your audience’s needs. 

Brand storytelling in marketing and e-Commerce

There are three common areas where storytelling crops up the most frequently in businesses. 

Your origin story

The first is any place where you have to talk “About Us”. That is most commonly found on your website and social platforms. These areas are great places to talk to your consumers about why you exist. How did you come into being? What was the idea or vision that inspired or motivated you? What did you do about it that got you to where you are and what you do today. 

Communications

This story telling concept can then be expanded out into how you use your communications more broadly. Most TV advertising when you break it down uses storytelling techniques albeit crunched into 30 second sound bites to capture attention and engage your audience. 

Face-to-face

And then finally, when you have to physically present your brand or business to others. At an investor presentation or even speaking directly to your target audience for example.  

Storytelling is a great way to make your brand feel more human and more real.

A great place to check out storytelling techniques is on the ted.com website. In 18 minutes, the speakers tell stories with a beginning, middle and end that normally starts with a problem or issue, takes you through the struggles to solve the problem and ends with a climax and resolution.

The three-brains story

We started three-brains because we saw a problem in many businesses that marketing, creative and sales teams often struggle to talk the same language and connect with each other. They bring a single function mentality and don’t always have the agility or flexibility to get the best out of their colleagues.

We believed that being able to put yourself in the shoes of each of these different skills and connecting them together was an opportunity to create something new and different.

To work with companies looking to up their game, by connecting marketing, creative and e-commerce skills into a single unified approach. That this joined up expertise could create better, stronger brands.

We’ve had to work hard to create the content and approach and get it out to our current and future customers. It continues to be a challenge and opportunity every day.

Our story is still only halfway through, but it’s pace is picking up as our message gets out there and our community of followers continues to grow.

* As an Amazon Affiliate, we earn with every purchase 

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Three-brains and creative skill development

We believe the best marketing and e-commerce activation pulls knowledge from many areas of the creative world. But most marketers or e-Commerce managers don’t get trained in creative skills. So there’s a huge opportunity to raise your game by having a good level knowledge of key creative skills you can either grow for yourself or know how to find and use professionals.  

If you want to raise your creative game through creative skills development, contact us or read more about our coaching and consulting services.

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