The Story Board – 7 effective ways for brand storytelling and for the Brand’s Story
Brand storytelling and Business in human society relies on human-to-human connection. The human connect is at the core of all business.
The bottom line is that all business dealings are about dealing with people and people related issues. The brand, the company, the business is all about solving people problems, alleviating pain points, and providing services, products and resource, with enriching and satisfying customer experiences.
Revenue is a byproduct of a good and stable business model that provides content quality and a positive customer experience. Revenue is not the focal point. The focal point is the customer interaction.
Since time immemorial, storytelling has been the most powerful tool of communication. And good communication is the foundation pillar of relationships. Hence, it can be understood that in business too, storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships with customers and audience at large, for business empowerment.
Story telling is an age-old concept that brings people together and keeps them engaged, and is an ice breaker that encourages interaction. It really is of no consequence as to where in the world the brand is based, or how much funding the startup has. The fact of the matter is that a good story sells. A story teller is all that is needed.
It is very critical to the business interest that companies invest time and resource into developing their storytelling strategies and methodologies.
A good brand storytelling empowers the business by giving the brand a big and powerful voice. A great story is a powerful voice for small ventures. Storytelling and marketing are intertwined. Whether it is infographics, writing a copy for a Facebook ad, or writing a free online guide, the critical part is to capture the attention of the audience.
Consumers are constantly bombarded with an advertisement overload. Marketers are in a constant competition for their prospects, and vying for the customer’s attention. It is a high probability that the brand advert may get buried under spam advertising messages.
The whole point of advertising, brand storytelling and marketing is to make the brand stand out and not get buried in the inbox. Storytelling is the key to making a brand stand out. It is crucial to understand –
- Why the brand should prioritize
- How the organization/ brand should get
Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool. Learning to use it for impact, is the lesson.
Brand Storytelling- The Definition
Brand storytelling is a story structure based on certain facts about the company. A good brand storytelling must take the following facts into consideration:
• The reason behind the origin of the company.
• The ideology of the company that motivates the team to work with dedication.
• The reason behind the origin of the brand product.
• Type of customer profile that finds value in working with the brand and the reason they like the brand.
• A transparent view into the people profile behind the company workings and policies.
• Building the brand story as a relationship-building tool.
• Keeping the brand story more subtle than loud and aggressive.
• A base concept that underscores the entire web presence of the brand.
• The uniform code of the brand that the entire team, at all organizational levels, embraces
• A look into the entire company profile and identity.
• A direct approach.
On the other hand, brand storytelling is definitely NOT:
• A lengthy, 5-paragraph winding essay about the company.
• A blog post.
• Something isolated, without reference to context.
• A fragmented and disjointed view of the company.
• Something that is reserved for the marketing team only.
• A PR stunt
• A viral video
• A tool to manipulate customers and prospects.
• Too artsy.
A good Brand Storytelling is not about the company alone. Brand Storytelling is about the customers, and the value that they get when engaging with the brand product or service.
The most impactful and powerful brand stories are the ones that prioritize customers as the stars and put them first, and put the brand or the company second, as a supporting character. This is the most critical component of the overall brand storytelling strategy.
Marketers often get stressed over communicating the perfect message, and get so stuck on it that they get confused as to which department or segment of the business should house the initiative of storytelling, and is capable of delivering the perfect message.
Should a consultant be hired or should the company’s EVP of corporate communications be given the task of storytelling. And in case of a professional, who will handle the storytelling.
These are all relevant questions. However, instead of overthinking, it is important to understand that storytelling is something that everybody does naturally, without really realizing it.
Storytelling is not the problem. The problem is penning down a story. The problem is that online content is difficult to write. Stories get lost in translations. A minor error here, or a loose end there, or lack of connectivity and flow, too long or too short, all these are cracks that result in the interest waning away and the brand losing ground.
Writing down a story can sometimes be a daunting task, making one feel at a loss for words to describe what the company does and in what way is the brand significant to the customers.
A good idea is to allow the customers themselves, tell the brand’s story for the company.
The example of “Clarity” company is worth understanding. The company provides a marketplace for advice seekers and experts to connect and share business advice. Clarity Company recently launched a series of stories from actual customers.
These stories were about the experience of the customers with regard to how Clarity helped the customers grow their business. Their Story line was “If you’re wondering how Clarity can help grow your business, take a lesson from the leaders who actually use it”. The rest of the story was told by the customers themselves.
This approach of customer’s narrating the brand’s story is a powerful approach, not only for the startups, but for all brand profiles. Enterprise CRM Salesforce hosts customer success videos on its Pinterest page.
Brand storytelling is much more than what is written on the webpage as information for the customers, and much more than the blog posts or social media pages. Brand storytelling is the manner of all communication that helps convey the message of the brand story to the customer.
Brand Story is the values and ethos of the brand that are infused into every interaction, communication, information, content that the brand puts forth in front of the customer, to answer customer queries, and as brand service and products.
With so many aspects to a good brand story, storytelling seems a tough job. Web copy and advertising messaging can be challenging to write.
However, a basic guidance can make the job of storytelling much easier. Here are listed a few guiding tips to help maneuver through brand storytelling.
Marketing is Not the Focus in Brand Storytelling:-
It is true that a good brand storytelling is the key to successful marketing. However, marketing is not the focus here when creating and strategizing a brand story.
The focus is not on trying to sell brand product.
The real spotlight is on developing human interest. A good brand story must answer the question as to why people should care about what the brand has to say. The human and brand connect is the focus of the brand story.
It is all about being persuasive, reaching out and appealing to emotion of the audience.
Being boring is catastrophic in brand storytelling. Moreover, the content on the brand page must reveal and present the identity of the personalities behind the functioning of the organization, as this provides a human connect and helps to establish a bond between the audience and the brand.
A good brand story shares more than just the product or service. It shares the strengths, and weaknesses, and the brand’s journey of growth and progress from origin to where it is today. Participating in the storytelling ecosystem is a great way to help build a brand story. Making use of customer testimonials and case studies and paying it forward by offering to do case studies for other companies, is a good way to go,.
Conversational Communication is a Great Asset in Brand Storytelling.
Originality and authenticity is crucial in copywriting of the brand content. Extreme formal or guarded approach makes the brand lose trust with the audience as it does not allow the audience to establish a personal connect, and it also hampers transparency that is essential to trust. Consumers can easily sense disingenuous messaging from miles away.
Awkward stock photos involving fake customers, false promises, empty messaging hurts and damages the brand’s reputation and goodwill
The Humane Aspect is of Great Advantage in Brand Storytelling:-
When developing a brand storytelling strategy, it helps to do a role play in the mind and pretend that one is talking to a new friend over drinks or coffee, instead of giving an academic presentation in 1862. A formal, preaching like vibe, sermonizing or talking down to the customers and prospects, or any indication of lack of respect, makes the customer shut down immediately, and stop listening.
Dwelling on technicalities like perfect grammar, kills the flow and creativity. A copywriter can always be hired for language correction and enhancement. Focus on developing the messaging content, instead of grammatical perfection, is more important.
Conversational writing is short and crisp. Being direct and straight away writing what is needed to be conveyed is the right approach in brand storytelling. A good way to go is to get it all on paper and then cut and edit it. Getting trapped in a mental space of the minimum word count supposedly needed to convey information effectively, is detrimental to building an effective brand story.
Writing as the feeling flows, without letting the stories get too long and unwieldy, is the right methodology. Excessive written content on a blog post or webpage, makes the readers feel distracted or lost.
It is important to say only as much as is needed to be said, in as few words as possible. Trying to sound smart or wise, and a preaching vibe, is detrimental. The fact that the brand has built a great product is enough to prove, to the customers and prospects, that the brand is smart.
Intelligent Crafting of the Message Architecture Enhances the Brand Storytelling:-
Brand storytelling is an art of subtle expression. The story about “how the brand came about” matters a great deal. There are great success stories to learn from. Pinterest’s lead content strategist, Tiffani Jones Brown, with her 5-person team, created an amazing voice, tone, user-facing copy, grammar conventions, and pinner education on the site, proving that it takes just 5 people to get Pinterest’s public-interface messaging right.
The company’s message architecture is a carefully, strategically developed planning, to position the brand story on the top. It is not random or coincidental.
Good stories do not appear out of nowhere. Careful focus on developing the right messaging is needed. It is critical to craft the company’s message architecture to underscore all of the brand communications.
Conceptually, to connect with the company’s core audience, time and timely action is of utmost importance. Waiting too long to connect with an interested prospect, the company risks losing its prospective customer and business.
At the same time, when sales teams are too aggressive in selling their story, they risk driving customers away. Selling is not about annoying the customers and prospects. It’s about being the first to respond and build an effective and a superior connection with the audience.
It is important that before articulating the company’s brand persona, a thorough outline of the message architecture is developed.
A message architecture is a way to transform vague goals into substantive concepts, with a clear context and priority status.
The goal is to keep the communication standard across the entire team, and maintain this core consistency even as the organization begins to scale-up. Hence, it is imperative for the company to define its message architecture as early on as possible.
The company’s story with regard to technology, partnerships, and customer-service oriented organization, must be well presented in everything on the website. Irrespective of whether the company’s blog and help center, for instance, are managed by two different sets of people, be it a customer service lead and a marketing consultant, it is important that the same brand story must shine through to the audience.
It is crucial that the message architecture have carefully chosen keywords, which help to place the company on top in the search engines. There is a technique by which to choose the keywords.
Card Sorting is a technique of selecting key words, a technique leveraged by brand strategists. In Card Sorting the following tips are to be kept in mind, when selecting keywords.
1. A list of key words relevant to the brand must be penned down. These are keywords that the customers have used with regard to the company, or they are words that describe the company, chosen by the company employees.
2. These keywords are then transcribed onto note cards.
3. Next step is to sort through the note cards and determine which words are most applicable to the brand. These selected words are separated from the rest.
4. Next is to surf through the cards left, and rank the balance keywords in the order of priority, as per their relevance to the brand.
5. All these keywords are then assembled into sentences that describe the brand.
6. Lastly, the constructed keyword sentences are pieced together into the brand’s message architecture.
It is a good move to get the customers involved in this process of finding keywords and creating a message architecture. A way of integrating customer involvement is through interviews. Customers may be interviewed as customer case studies. The words and expressions used by them to describe the brand can be noted down as keywords.
Interviews and service reviews bring to light more keyword patterns, and are of great value.
It is important and advantageous to allow the customers to determine the brand messaging, and allow the customers themselves to define the voice behind the company.
On-site and Off-site Presence Must Be Unified:-
The brand story, message architecture, and brand identity of the company must be consistent and follow the team members everywhere, from on-site blog posts to PR opportunities in all major media channels.
The company’s identity must be kept consistent and unified in all digital platforms and profiles. It is of extreme importance that the image of the brand shared with the world should be a genuine, authentic, and transparent view into the organization, for a brand storytelling
Wise Choice of Words is a Wise Strategy:-
The content and the manner of conveying the content, both are important in brand storytelling. The tone, voice, and communication style used must align with the target audience and their preferences.
If the target audience are the millennials, for instance, then a casual, conversational tone and style is what appeals to them.
The concepts of voice, tone, and style need to come together comprehensively. A style- guide that provides instructions for all of the on-site and off-site brand communications is of help always.
To get started, one needs to:
1. Set a Website goal: Note down all that the website visitors would desire to accomplish when visiting the brand website.
2. Define the Audience: The target audience expected to engage with these specific website sections, must be defined.
3. Reinforce the Core Concepts: It is important to define and structure what the brand wants its audiences to feel on visiting the requisite section of the website, or the piece of writing or content.
4. Define the Tone: What emotions the brand story evokes, must be defined. That is the tone of the brand story. How the visitor feels after they read the brand story, or section of the website, it must be engineered into the brand story.
5. Define the Perspective: Define and structure as to whether the writer of the brand story, or brand content, is supposed to communicate in the first, second, or third person. As well as the profile identity of who is telling the story.
6. Define the Voice: Whether the language of the brand story and content is conversational, formal, or somewhere in between, it must be defined and structured in.
The brand style-guide and message architecture may be customized and tailored to suit any form of multimedia, beyond writing. Infographics, brand videos, e-books, or blog posts, all the plans must ensure that the messaging is consistent across all mediums.
Writing is one form of online communication. It is imperative to invest the time in energy in creating a structure behind everything that is produced online for Ecommerce presence, and be on top of the cut throat digital market. .
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