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Your business needs a strong brand story. Do you have one?

By Pauline Muindi | March 24th 2021

Stories are a powerful tool in creating human connection. The most successful brands in today’s world use the power of storytelling to create a closer, more trusting relationship with their consumers. Research shows that the human brain responds deeply to the descriptive power of stories.

Without a clear brand story, many businesses experience difficulty coming across as genuine in their marketing efforts. In today’s competitive business world, simply stating what you do in your “about” page isn’t enough. To have an edge over the competition, you have to engage your audience with a strong brand story.

Here are tips to help you create a powerful brand story for your small business:

Figure out your identity

The first step to creating a compelling brand story is figuring out what your brand stands for. What are your values as an organisation? What is unique about your offering? What is your unique brand voice? Who is your target audience?

Many business owners assume they are done with branding after coming up with a business name and creating a logo. But they can’t articulate what their brand stands for and they have vague understanding of their clients’ needs. Not having a firm grasp on your brand identity often leads to mixed brand messages that don’t inspire trust and confidence in the audience. To define your iIdentity, take some time for observation and introspection. Think about why you started the business. What was your inspiration and what did you want to achieve? Secondly, listen keenly to what customers, prospects, and employees say about your brand. Thirdly, look at what your competitors are doing and how your brand is doing things differently. Use this information to who you are and what you stand for.

Start at the beginning

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Do you have an interesting origin story? Your audience is highly interested in hearing about how the brand they love was born, how it went from idea to reality.

People also want to know about the challenges you encountered and how you overcame them, so don’t make your story unrealistically struggle-free. Highlighting your struggles makes your brand more relatable. You also look more honest, approachable and trustworthy.

Think of your brand as the hero of the story. For a story to be engaging, the hero has to go through growth-inducing challenges and conflicts that eventually benefit the audience. The most compelling brand stories include struggles, wins, beliefs, and highlights that define the brand’s journey.

Emphasise on people

Too many brand stories are just dry, reworded marketing material that don’t connect with the audience. To tell a truly compelling brand story, you have to focus on the people behind the brand. For example, people can connect with the story of how two 20-year-olds, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs set up shop in one of their parents’ garage and sold their meagre possessions to start a company that is now known as Apple.

Now imagine if Apple’s brand story focused on the details of testing different prototypes to create new computers. Boring, right? While such details might be interesting to enthusiasts in the field, it wouldn’t be an engaging brand story to a majority of the brand’s audience.

Make it simple

Successful brands usually have simple, clear stories at their core. Just think about Apple, Virgin, and Airbnb. Just like any other good story, your brand story needs to have these simple elements: problem, solution, success. While complex stories might work for TV series such as Game of Thrones, brand stories need to be simple with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The beginning defines the problem you set out to resolve, the middle explains the solution you came up with and the challenges you encountered, while the end is all about success.

Bear in mind that unlike traditional fiction stories, brand stories don’t have a clean ending point. Brand stories are left open with an encouraging and bright future. This shows the audience that in addition to everything that has happened, there’s plenty more to come.

Know your audience

When you don’t know who you are targeting, it is difficult to tell an effective brand story. Find out what your demographic is and try to understand its needs, fears, motivations, wants, and dreams. This will help you fine-tune your brand story to appeal to the target audience.

Don’t forget that as much as the story is about your brand, its main goal is connecting with your customers. With this in mind, tell your story in a way that tells your customers: we understand you, relate to you, we are like you. You can test your audience to see the kind of brand messaging that resonates the most. For example, do they respond more to video or blog posts? Invest more in the kind of messaging that works best for your brand.

Implement your brand voice

To tell your story effectively, you need to also have a clear focus on your brand voice. Your voice is largely determined by your target audience. For example, if your brand targets a young audience, it should also have a young, fun voice. On the other hand, if you have a health brand targeting a general audience, your brand voice can be informed and trustworthy. Incorporate the traits in your brand’s personality in the way you tell your story.

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