This article is a follow up from “Why storytelling must be part of your strategy” in which I highlighted the points about the importance of storytelling in marketing and sales in general. But how do you put together an appealing brand story that your target audience and potential customers will respond to? We all know what story is, after all our educational years gave us enough practice, right? So why are we finding it so hard when it comes to writing a brand story?
The reason why it can be so challenging is the dilemma of how much to reveal. On one hand we should be personal but on the other hand we also should be professional. “People buy from people”, we are told from every possible angle. And that’s true. But increasingly I’m finding that small business owners and product-based solopreneurs are pushing it too far. I can definitely see that this type of strategy might be working now but the question is: Is it sustainable in terms of growth in the long run?
To me, business is about having fun but also it is quite serious, or can become serious at different stages of the business cycle. And so your brand story should reflect that. It’s about finding the right balance. To help you define your brand story, I created a 6-step formula. This formula came about from my own experiences but also out of my own need to understand the brand stories we write about in ESTILA. I found that brands have amazing products and services but their stories are very weak. They focus too much on the product’s benefits (WHAT) rather than the story (WHY).
6 steps to writing a brand story:
Your brand story starts actually way before you created it. A trigger is an event that has a profound impact on your way of thinking and changing your mindset. An “open my eyes” moment, you start seeing things differently. You start noticing things around you that no one else is bothered about. While you seek the solution, others quite happily work with what they’ve got.
Story template: After (insert event) I wanted to buy (insert your product) that was organic and made from 100% natural materials. I searched the whole market and visited shops big and small but couldn’t find what I was looking for.
As you dig deeper and research the problem, you get increasingly frustrated. How come no one is solving the problem? The more you investigate, the more you realise that there is an opportunity for a business venture.
Story template: As I was looking more and more into it, I spotted a gap in the market .. expand on this further.
Your frustrations shape the concept of your idea/brand. It defines your brand’s values and foundations of your brand’s DNA. The best way to define your concept is through mind-mapping. Write down keywords which sum up your idea. What kind of service you want to provide? What kind of product you want to offer?
Story template: The idea for our brand was born out of my own personal need to find a solution to my problem. Our brand values reflect what we stand for. Our tagline sums up what we’re about and who we’re serving.
As you start defining your idea, you need to think about WHY you exist as a brand. Who is your customer? What problem are you solving? How are you helping your customer? What is its outcome? Why should be pay attention to your brand?
Story template: We want our customers to feel (insert your own – suggestions: happy, more confident, more eco-friendly, living more sustainably etc..)
Mission is about seeing the bigger picture. It’s about practising your “calling”. Your mission is something which you will never stop doing. It’s the by-product of your brand’s existence.
Story template: Our mission is to help you in everyday life. We understand how busy life can get and so we want to make things as easy as possible for you. And in the process we want to make a change on how society views (insert the topic). Through our educational programmes/initiatives/workshops/charity work we want to teach the future generation about the positive impact they can make on (insert the topic).
Your mission will give you the clarity and focus for your vision. Vision is seeing your brand’s development in long distance. Where do you want to get to? Why are you doing what you’re doing? Is it for financial security, providing you and your family with a good lifestyle, or is it something else? What is it?
Story template: Our vision is to grow into a (insert your vision) so we can make our mission a reality.
So these are the basic 6 steps to writing a brand story. The first five I would recommend to write as part of your about page, include in your promotional materials, some of this content to put on your welcome/home page and social media profiles. Your vision can be private to you. It serves mainly as your compass to where you want to get to. Once you get clarity on that, the decisions you make now will help you reaching that vision. You also will find actively seeking out opportunities that again will help you get there.
In summary, going through this exercise, you should be able to define the WHYs, which will form the backbone of your brand story and existence. You should also get more clarity and focus, and be able to confidently talk about your brand in a cohesive manner. However, there is more. This is just one part of the two part to storytelling. Stay tuned!
Want to be part of a group of like-minded creatives who are going through what you’re going through? We have an amazing community of emerging designers, interior designers, stylists, fashion accessory brands, artists and photographers, where we help each other grow. This is where I encourage sharing knowledge and brand collaborations. No fakes, self-centred liars and backstabbers are allowed. Please join us here. And, feel free to share if you found this useful!