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Building Your Brand Through Storytelling

The definition of branding is no longer limited to labels, logos and packaging; these are only subsets of a much larger category. Due to social media, and greater awareness in general, today’s savvy consumers want to buy from brands they trust. So, it’s important to give your customers a reason to know, like and trust your brand. We do that by brand storytelling.

That said, story or no story, it’s difficult for a consumer to trust a brand when there are no people visible behind it. So, through personality-driven storytelling, you give them someone real to trust, and something to believe in. In some cases, this “someone real” is the company’s founder. In many cases, it’s the consumer themselves.

Take Apple, Coca-Cola and Nike for instance. These iconic brands have built trust by telling the consumer a compelling story. When you watch their commercials, you will become a part of them, able to tap into the feel-good emotions demonstrated by the characters. These are transformative stories that reveal something so powerful that their ideal customer wants to become a part of it.

A brand story is more than content and a narrative, it’s a complete picture of history, facts, values, feelings, mission and vision. It’s about the signals and messages your brand sends, based on your company’s actions and commitment. A powerful brand story can transform your presence and identity, resulting in higher revenues.

Burt’s Bees is a good example of branding through storytelling. When you dig into their story, you know why they exist. To make money? Sure, but there’s a more compelling reason. In 1984 the company’s future co-founders, Roxanne, an artist, and Burt, a beekeeper, met during a chance hitchhiking encounter. They eventually decided to make wax candles together. Today, Burt’s Bees manufactures hundreds of products, the most popular being the Beeswax Lip Balm. Their philosophy is, “What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer,” and “We should treat our skin and the world we live in, with care.” This, mixed with a dose of activism and the brand’s guiding principles: people, profit, planet, keep them firmly planted in the “brands we trust” category.

When marketing storytelling is done well, it:
•Clearly establishes what your brand is all about: its purpose, core values, history and mission.
•Connects the consumer with an experience they want to be a part of. A cause, mission or just a feel-good story.
•Creates a loyal following by building content that leaves the audience feeling as though they would risk missing something important, trendy or otherwise significant if they don’t get on board right away.
•Inspires others to tell the story.

How to build your story.
Never diminish the importance of your story. Some individuals go into business because they have an idea they believe will make money. Most do it because they had a problem they creatively solved and want to help others do the same. Why did you begin handcrafting your products? Go all the way back to the beginning. Write about everything you can think of, no matter how small the detail. It’s difficult to see the trees through the forest, so share your notes with a creative friend, coach or mentor to find the golden sharable nuggets.

Level up your story.
The majority of consumers prefer to buy from a cause-related brand. Burt’s Bees is all about saving the bees and saving the planet. The story of two people who decide to make candles together is dull, but learn their story and you want to become a part of their mission. What do you care about and how can you tie it into your brand?

Be active on social media.
Pinterest, YouTube and Facebook are only as powerful and effective as you make them. I once had a client who became an overnight success (literally) when an image of her product spread like wildfire on Pinterest after an influencer shared it with her board.

Go tell your story.
Whether social or work-related, every time you are out and about you have the opportunity to tell your story. When I go to a craft show about 95% of the crafters just stand there and smile (if that) when I approach their booth. This is dull and ineffective. It’s those who tell their story from whom I buy. Seek out speaking opportunities, write guest blogs, tweet about your day, create videos, and upload story-telling images frequently.

Make it simple to share.
Social media makes your story very easy to share. Also, there are many things your website programmer can do to make it shareable. You can ask for things like a testimonial, a tweet or Facebook share, or conduct a quick survey via a follow-up email. Since everyone loves to tell a story, give your customer something compelling and they will talk about it.

Most importantly, be authentic and consistent. Your product speaks for itself; your brand needs a voice too.

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