Beyond the Mission Statement: Building Your Brand With Effective Storytelling

Business.com / Branding / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Your brand story already exists, whether you realize it or not. It’s your job to uncover that story to better promote your business.

Business success is built on personal and emotional connections with individual customers, not some corporate mission statement that supposedly conveys your brand’s core values and goals.

Despite this truth, so many stubborn businesses continue to focus on developing internal clarity as opposed to delivering unique messages through external storytelling.

What about your business? Are you focused on issues that don’t really matter, or are you committed to building your brand with one-on-one engagement that transpires through storytelling? If you're not, it's time to be.

Related Article: Telling Your Brand Story: How to Engage the Masses

Storytelling as a Branding/Marketing Medium

As Christopher Ratcliff of Econsultancy says, “We remember information far better when it’s in the form of story rather than as a list of facts. People tell stories, art tells stories, TV tells stories, ads tell stories…so it seems straightforward enough when a marketer talks about ‘storytelling,’ we know what they mean.” A brand’s story gives people an idea of what the brand is about, what they’re trying to accomplish, and how everything cohesively fits together.

Tips for Finding Your Brand Story

You don’t really write your brand’s story as much as you find it. In other words, your brand story already exists, whether you realize it or not. It’s your job to uncover that story, shed light on the best aspects of that story, and ensure your target market hears and identifies with that story.

1. Identify Your Core Message

At the end of the day, after the money is counted and paychecks are delivered, what is your company’s overarching goal? If money weren’t part of the equation, what would remain? This is your core message and will be the central theme of your brand’s story. For example, if you’re an auto repair shop, your main goal may be “to help local drivers care for their vehicles and safely get where they need to be.”

Do you see how this core message is different than something along the lines of “maintaining a 30 percent profit margin?” The former allows you to tell a story, whereas the latter only looks good on a balance sheet.

2. Reflect on Your Journey

Your brand isn’t static. It’s a living, breathing organism that has a past, present, and future. Storytelling requires you to reflect on your journey, where you are, and where you’re headed. As Quick Sprout suggests, you’ll need to find answers to questions such as these:

  • How did your company get started?
  • How have your products and services evolved over time?
  • What’s the one motivating factor that wakes you up each morning?
  • What sort of customers do you work with, and why?
  • Where do you see your company in three, five, and seven years?

Actually take the time to write down answers to questions like these. You’ll find that you spend more time carefully considering the details when you put pen to paper.

3. Give Your Brand a Relatable Character

In order for brand storytelling to be successful, you need to attach a face and persona to your brand. There are plenty of options for how you can do this. For example, you can create a fictional character like Progressive has done with “Flo.” But that’s not the only way. You may choose to feature some of your own employees – or yourself. Whatever you do, though, your brand needs a human face to it. Otherwise, you’ll be seen as too corporate and removed.

4. Connect the Dots

Storytelling has to be congruent. You can’t tell one story on your website, another on your social profiles, and another when you’re directly communicating with customers. The story has to mesh across all mediums. This is the only way your target market will become comfortable with your brand.

What Brand Storytelling Is Not

Unfortunately, a lot of brands think they’re investing in storytelling when they actually aren’t. This is arguably more damaging than ignoring storytelling altogether, as it gives you a false impression. Here are a handful of things that brand storytelling is not:

  • Creating a viral video and trying to share it in as many places as possible.
  • Writing a single blog post that explains your company’s history.
  • Developing a fictional character for your brand.
  • Creating a fictional story about your brand.
  • Delegating the storytelling to your marketing department and failing to include everyone.
  • Trying to manipulate customers into feeling a certain way.
  • Trying different stories until you find one that sticks.

Investing in Storytelling is a Must

“Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct and indirect brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority,” says Susan Gunelius, Forbes.com contributor. The question is, are you ready to commit to storytelling in an effort to grow your brand and engage with your target market? The answer to that question should be simple.

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