Brand storytelling is exactly what it sounds like: using narrative structures to support and build the reputation of your brand. As a facet of your broader content marketing strategy, it’s one of the most effective forms of communication. There’s something human and personally appealing about the nature of stories, and if you can use them properly as facilitators of your brand, you’ll be able compel and attract thousands of new brand evangelists to your cause.
Finding the sources for those stories, however, can prove difficult, especially if brand storytelling is a new concept for your business. Fortunately, there are several brainstorming and ideation strategies that can help you come up with ample stories for your content marketing campaign.
Brand storytelling is any type of story structure that either indirectly informs a reader about your brand, or endears them to your brand. It can take a great many forms, including:
If you’re struggling to find ideas for your next brand storytelling project, try one of these strategies to come up with a new source for your next piece:
Personal stories are sometimes the most effective, and your corporate leaders are some of the most influential people under the umbrella of your brand. If you’re the founder or CEO yourself, you can simply use your own stories and experiences. Otherwise, you can arrange for an interview with someone else.
The topic of the interview is up to you. If you’re aiming for a more personal approach, you can describe the personal and professional experiences that led the interviewee to hold a position at the company. This can do wonders to improve the authority and reputation of the brand, and help connect readers emotionally by presenting a personal story.
You can also use a storytelling mechanism to describe the role of the individual within the company. Explain his/her responsibilities, and use the results of the interview to give a handful of entertaining or unique anecdotes relevant to the business. Any indication of passion for the business will help readers connect the individual’s personality to the greater brand.
Take a look at your client base, especially the ones who have been around for the longest amount of time. Odds are, you have at least two or three that you’ve sustained a healthy relationship for a period of years. For each of these, break down the scope of services and the length of the relationship to determine which one would make for the best story, then reach out to that client and ask for their collaboration in the form of an elaborate case study.
While your case study will end up in a narrative, storytelling format, numbers will be the most influential portion of your case study. Numbers will guide your narrative; start with the year your relationship formed, and metrics about the scope of their business before you got involved. Support the scope of your services with accurate numbers such as how much of a product you produced or how many services you provided, then follow up with the final results of the campaign or partnership. Getting some quotes from the client in question will be particularly useful.
When you work in a specific industry, it can be hard to see your products and services with fresh eyes. Spend some time imagining different applications for your products and services, and the qualities that make them unique from those of your competitors.
Find a way to present the advantages of these products in a story-based format. Imagine someone is using them or taking advantage of them for the first time. What is this person experiencing? What is this person’s mentality before, during, and after the acquisition of the product? Weave an engaging narrative that allows new readers to gain an understanding of your products through a story format. Some of the best brand stories are invented.
If you’re struggling coming up with ideas, try asking some of your newest brand fans, including people who have recently followed you on social media. Ask them what they think about your core products and services, and how they see them applying in their own lives. It could give you that final push of inspiration you need to come up with a compelling, imagined story.
Some brands have made extensive use of recurring characters as a medium for their storytelling efforts. You could do the same. Your recurring character won’t exactly be a mascot, but it will come to represent your brand in some way.
Use your character to illustrate uses of your product in different situations, or use your character to execute a hypothetical situation that demonstrates the power of your brand. You could even use your character as a substitute for a real-life customer (if the customer refuses to disclose his/her identity publicly). If you use the character frequently enough, you’ll generate a loyal following.
One of the most important strategies is also one of the easiest. Instead of relying on an invented character or an imagined storyline, why not ask your followers directly for inspiration? Make a public callout on social media and ask your audience for their own personal stories.
If you’re willing to give up some level of control, you can let your audience take direction on the content creation portion of brand storytelling. Ask them to post testimonials on their own pages, or post video reviews of your products, along with a personal story of why your brand is meaningful to them. You’ll generate great attention for your brand as well as valuable external links that build your domain authority and increase your rank in Google.
Just having a story isn’t enough. You have to broadcast that story in a way that makes sense for your brand and simultaneously enhances the advantages of the type of story you’ve chosen. For example, you wouldn’t want to reduce the power of a case study several years in the making to a series of 160-character tweets. You also wouldn’t want to stretch the simplicity of a simple allegory to the span of an entire whitepaper. Learn to pair your types of brand stories to proper mediums, and syndicate them accordingly. Different stories carry different levels of authority, and communicate to different segments of your core audience.
Brand storytelling is a highly valuable strategy, but only when it’s implemented with care and consistency. Like with any element of your content marketing or branding strategy, you’ll need to work diligently to refine it and improve upon it. Over time, as your users get used to seeing more engaging, dynamic stories, you’ll earn a more loyal following. Your readership traffic will grow and you might even earn a higher conversion rate as a result of your efforts. More than any other format, stories engage people. Make the most of the medium for your brand.