How to Tell a Great Brand Story
It was starting to sprinkle, and the wind was picking up. I kissed him goodbye as he went to go find a place for a coffee and I was determined to finish my shopping.
I forgot to get the umbrella.
The sprinkle turned to rain, the rain turned into a downpour, and with the added force of the wind, in about 20 minutes I was in a full-blown gale.
I scooted along the sidewalk and under awnings, ducking into the first store I saw.
A nice man said cheerfully, “Come on in and get out of that rain!”
I shook myself off like a cute little wet teacup poodle, looked up, and was so happy that this was the store I’d decided to accidentally walk into.
The nice man was a salesman named Andy, and I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to tell him to shut up and take my money.
Story Telling is Human
Story telling is fun, exciting, and magical. I defy you to find someone who doesn’t like a great story. I’ll say, “Why don’t you like stories?” and they’ll say, “Well, once when I was a kid—” and I’ll cut them off and say, “FUCK YOU YOU’RE TELLING A STORY RIGHT NOW!”
We can all think of stories that moved us, or spoke to us, or inspired us. And for each person, the reason is different.
Stories work so well because they cause us to actually feel the experience of the speaker, which is called neural coupling.
Studies in an fMRI machine showed that when a speaker told a story to a listener, the same parts of the brain would light up in both the speaker and the listener, showing that the two were in sync with each other as the story was being told.
All this neural coupling creates comprehension, understanding, anticipation, and receptivity.
Very simply put, stories create trust.
And I’ve already talked about how important trust is for the success of your business.
But, you’ve got to pick your story well. The scientists in this study could tell how effective the communication was based on the level of neural coupling.
So, how do you figure out your story?
Figure out your story
You need to find the magic that makes your story and tell it to your customers.
The end to my story was that I’d walked in to Rudsak; a wonderful Canadian leather goods company. And while their bags and clothing basically sell themselves because they’re that damn good, it was Andy’s story that started to whole process. (That, and Andy being an all around amazing salesman.)
He told me how long he’d had his bag, and how much he loved it. When I asked how it held up to weather and travel, he went to the back and brought out his own bag to show me how well they weather and age.
“I’ve taken this bag everywhere.” he told me. “And it holds up like nothing I’ve ever seen.”
I had to have it.
I was originally shopping for a purse. I walked out with a purse, a messenger bag, and shoes.
And now my bag has been to three continents and five countries. It’s been to Parisian coffee shops, Canadian bars, and little Thai food carts.
What I’m saying is, if my bag has a story, I know for sure your brand does.
Put Your Personality in the Story
Your story is inspired by the people that create your brand.
Whether you’re in total and sole control of your company, or you’ve got a few people working for you, this is the heart of your story.
Who are the people that make your brand and how do their stories feed into the personality and story of your brand?
Keep It Simple
Simple stories are stories that sell. Although our brand stories definitely have depth and intricacy to them, the simpler you can make them, the better.
They should all follow this basic format:
- Beginning: Your Problem
- Middle: Your Solution
- End: Your Success
The end of your story, its success, shouldn’t be a stopping point. It should be like the end of the first book in a series, where you feel like there’s another chapter just waiting to be written. The relationship between you and your customer is that next chapter.
Make Sure Your Story Resonates with the Customer
Ask yourself, “Why does my brand exist?”
Your reason for existing will help answer the customer’s question of, “Why should I buy from you?”
You started your business because you wanted to share something with other people. Your story is part of what drove your business into existence, and needs to resonate with your customer.
People will identify with that story and with your brand, prompting them to choose you over a competitor.
Customers Buy Your Story, Not Just Your Product
When customers buy your product or service, they are buying a part of your story. Take TOMS, for example. We have endless options for choosing shoes.
So why do people choose Tom’s over another brand?
There’s the aesthetics and fit of the shoe of course, but there’s also a story. People are buying part of the story that says, “When you buy a pair of shoes from Tom’s, you’ve also bought a pair of shoes for a child that can’t afford them.” It’s a story that people are proud to participate in.
Encourage Customers to Tell Your Story
I talked about how creating great conversations with your customers is important to growing your business, but encouraging your customers to also share your story will help you, too.
Have people interact with your product, or talk about your service. They’re part of the story you’ve created, so encourage them to share that with others.
You’re Selling More Than Just Your Product
When you’re selling a product or service, that’s not all your selling. You’re also selling your own story. Make sure that you make it one worth sharing.