Creating a Powerful Brand Story (Guide)
If you've been following along, you now have a base understanding of what branding and digital marketing are, and what they mean for your business. If you've missed those, STOP what you're doing and go check out our Studio Notes where you can find all past articles.
If you’re caught up, great! Keep reading...
Over the next few articles, we’re diving even deeper into each component of BRANDING and exploring the specific ways to build a relationship with your target audience. The first component we’re jumping into is creating your BRAND STORY.
To recap, a brand story is the all-encompassing, meaningful narrative that covers the mission, values, origin and ultimately the why behind the brand. A brand story reveals its primary purpose for existing, in a way that elicits an emotional response from its audience. This is one of the easiest ways for a brand to become memorable and differentiate itself from others in its market. For us, your story starts with what is known as the “why.” WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?! Depending on your specific business, this can mean you can focus on the mission, why you started, the gap you’re trying to fill in the industry, or the value you aim to provide to your audience.
The power of storytelling
Stories bring people together and help keep them engaged by building relationships. A good brand story connects your brand to the world around you. It is especially important to invite your audience to join you on your brand’s journey and having a strong story has the potential to do just this, in an organic way.
Fear of God is an example of a brand that does this well.
Fear of God (FOG) has remained true to their story since its launch in 2013. While founder, Jerry Lorenzo’s religious upcoming is the most significant element behind the brand, he was inspired by his own family’s sports legacy, his love of hip hop, and the 90’s grunge movement. Through a perfect mix of luxury meets streetwear, he created a unique aesthetic that stems from these inspirations and also serves as a guide for each new collection and the types of collaborations they take on.
FOG uses the personal values found in his family’s legacy and his interests to connect their audience to a deeper meaning behind the collections they produce. For example, their fifth collection launched with a visual storytelling experience. The short film tugs at our heartstrings as it captures the essence of family with its reminiscent shoot, using shots of a young boy and his father, Lorenzo’s grandmother’s furniture, and old family photographs.
When a customer buys a pair of their military sneakers, they are buying a part of their story which allows them to feel like they are actively participating in the brand.
While personal stories and interests work best for b2c or consumer-driven brands, you can see how everything is weaved together to create a strong tie to the brand.
Fear of God showed us the importance of:
Understanding who you are.
Bringing an emotional, relatable element into an otherwise salesy business model.
Maintaining your brand’s morals and story no matter what. There should never be a time where your brand values or story completely changes depending upon the audience or opportunity. Consistency is key. No identity crisis,’ please.
Having a clear brand narrative that makes you stand out, but one that nurtures a special connection to your consumers.
So, What’s your story?
An Effective Brand Story Tells Your Audience 4 Things:
01 What You Do :
What types of products or services you offer.
02 Who You Serve:
The target audience you are trying to reach (our next article will dive into audience).
Who benefits the most from what you offer.
To truly understand exactly who your audience is, it takes time and research.
03 How and Why Your Brand Started:
Your origin story.
04 What Your Plans Are:
The mission or big vision (goal) you’re working towards.
Your story can be a combination of these or focused on the most relevant angle, depending on how your brand came to be. Your brand' story is your most POWERFUL marketing tool. That being said, a good story needs to be real and authentic in order to gain trust and seem credible to a target audience.
Your Guide to Creating a Brand Story
Why was your company started in the first place and what was the motivation?
While this is important, as it speaks to your intentions as a business owner, don’t focus solely on yourself unless it’s directly related to the product or service you are offering. Even if it is related, it should only be a few lines to give context and mainly focus on the value for the customer.
If you had to describe the core elements on your brand in 5 words, what would those be and why?
What are your audience’s wants and needs?
This is especially important to take a close look at. We exist in a marketplace that is constantly changing and highly competitive. It is crucial to stay ahead of the game, by knowing what is trending and listening to your customers. There is a sweet spot between framing your story around trends and looking to trends to help upgrade to a message that is still relevant. Try to align your story with the general direction of your particular industry, while still staying true to who you are. Beware of trying too hard to be trendy- it can trigger brand inconsistencies, a risk you don’t want to take.
What makes your business unique? What are you offering that is different from others doing the same thing? Do you have a specialty?
What is the group or type of person that you best serve or want to work with? Why do they do business with you?
What does your ideal customer need to know about you?
Notice how the majority of these questions tend to focus on what your brand is about rather than conforming to who you think you should be. You genuinely will shine through so long as you speak from the heart of your brand.
No matter what context it carries, every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, carrying a natural sequence. After you are finished answering the above questions, try formatting your answers into the below format.
Beginning: The Problem. Explain the problem that you are determined to solve.
Middle: Solution. Share your remedy and describe a little about how you solved it.
End: Success. Get others psyched about the success of your brand’s effects. Spread your joy and share your glory!
Create a short paragraph from your noted answers in as many different ways as you can. From there, create a more detailed and paired down version of your story that seems most fitting to use across your brand.
Is your story:
and most of all, RETELLABLE?
What’s the feeling you want your audience to feel after you’re done telling your story.
Perhaps you want them to feel a sense of community, connected, empowered, joyful, inspired, etc.
BONUS: Once you complete the guide, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your brand’s narrative and we’ll post a select few or even surprise you with a bit of fun, harmless critique (we won’t be too harsh, don’t worry)!
Ooh, I Got a Feeling —
If you want your audience to feel connected and inspired by your brand story, YOU have to feel it first. You cannot give something you haven’t got!
Now remember, practice makes perfect. Every great artist needs some kind of rough draft before the masterpiece (yes, even Beyoncé heavily rehearses, as we all saw her do in her documentary, “Homecoming,” on Netflix.) Lastly, know your story as well as you know those all-nighter work hustles and endless cups of joe during the morning grind. If you know and tell your story well, it impacts how others will talk about you.
OF COURSE, BRANDS ARE EXPECTED TO EVOLVE AND GROW! YOUR STORY MAY SHIFT AND CHANGE AS YOU START UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIENCE MORE, AS THE MARKET CHANGES AND OTHER FACTORS CAN COME INTO PLAY.
This is real life, ok!
Change is unavoidable. So, we STRONGLY suggest starting with where your brand is at right now because that authenticity goes a long way.
Let’s Do This!
Having trouble with your story? Don’t panic- we have you covered! Our Discovery series helps us guide you through this process, as well as better understand your target audience, necessary engagement for your brand, and so much more.