Humans have been master storytellers since our cave and loincloth days when we needed a way to communicate the dangers of our pre-historic world. Families would gather around the fire and share stories after a long day of hard work (I’m talking REAL hard work...like, your life depends on it hard work - not the kind of “hard” work we complain about today).
Life was physically tough and living conditions were brutal, but the magic within the stories of their ancestors and their deities carried them through.
Stories are the backbone of humanity.
Things may have evolved since then, but the foundation of a good story hasn’t changed. Hundreds of years later, we’re still enchanted by the myths of Achilles and Odysseus. We love reimagining the story of Noah’s arc and modernizing Shakespeare’s plays.
A good story is a good story and will stand the test of time, making its characters and its premise immortal and legendary.
Brands that master the art of storytelling connect better with their target audience and have no problems building trust leading to an almost effortless sale.
The best brands humanize themselves in 3 emotionally-appealing ways.
1) Through a real person acting as a guide
2) Through a fictional mascot
3) Or with an overarching goal and purpose
Let’s take a look at these three brand storytelling strategies a little more in-depth…
BRAND STORYTELLING STRATEGY #1 - THE GUIDE
I’m a crazy huge fan of the Social Media Marketing podcast with Michael Stelzner, and the episodes I’ll never forget? You guessed it, the episodes about brand storytelling, one with Donald Miller of Story Brand, one with Gary Vaynerchuk of, well, Gary Vaynerchuk (VaynerMedia) and Park Howell, brand story strategist and the host of The Business of Story Podcast.
All of these people use “The Guide” strategy as the main story arc of their business.
Donald Miller straight up calls himself “Your Guide” as he markets his workshops on his website and it was one of the main things he stressed during his appearance on the Social Media Marketing podcast.
How to use The Guide in your brand story
This brand story works best when the products or services a business is selling offer some sort of knowledge gain or advancement for its customers. Coaches, strategists, consultants, designers, and service providers all can benefit from this brand story model.
BRAND STORYTELLING STRATEGY #2 - THE FICTIONAL MASCOT
The Geico gecko used to really make me laugh although he’s lost a little bit of his momentum, but nonetheless, you still probably think of our little green friend when you think of Geico.
Or what about Flo from progressive?
Or every single flippin’ Disney character that we’re all so enchanted by? They’re brand ambassadors, don’t be fooled. Every character of every movie, short, TV show, and physical product that Disney sells is part of the larger brand story that Walt Disney created when he first drew Mickey Mouse.
And that’s the magical power of stories that can be applied to your business… even if you’re a plumber or working in an industry with little to no “magic” in it. That’s the beauty of it all, it’s up to you to create the magic and you absolutely can.
How to use The Fictional Mascot in your brand story
Create several personas of your target audience and use those personas to create a fictional mascot for your brand story. You can choose the one persona you feel is the strongest and will resonate with most of your audience or you can mix and match traits from the different personas to create a SUPER-persona that almost everyone in your target audience can find something in common with.
After you determine the character(s) of your brand story, write that characters story! It sounds silly, and can be tricky for someone who has little experience with fictional writing (or just plain hates it!), but it’s imperative to the success of your brand.
And knowing your complete brand story in tandem with your customer personas can help you create stronger, more targeted products and services for your target market.
BRAND STORYTELLING STRATEGY #3 - THE OVERARCHING GOAL OR PURPOSE
Mega-rockstar brands like Warby Parker, Toms Shoes, Apple, Go-Pro, Tesla and Google use the “overarching goal or purpose” as their brand story.
These are the brands that not only impact individual lives, but they impact humanity on a large scale. They disrupt the norm, they make things better, their products impact your daily life and make your life easier or more exciting.
These are the brands who affect change, advance humankind, and start viral movements. These are the brands you recognize when you see their products while you’re out and about.
Their brand stories are so strong that you can spot their products from a mile away. And they have raving, loyal fans to boot.
These are the brands that take brand storytelling a step further - they make it a lifestyle.
How to use The Overarching Goal or Purpose in your brand story
You don’t need to be a mega-company with a billion dollar advertising budget to create a brand story with an overarching goal or purpose.
You can create the same effect on a smaller scale by increasing transparency, consistently pushing towards a common goal (make sure you create a clear and concise brand goal from day ONE) and sharing your progress with your customers.
Go forth and conquer your brand story...
These three brand storytelling strategies can be wildly powerful when used correctly. The key is to gain clarity on your brand messaging so that you project a consistent brand story to your audience. The worst thing you can do to your business is not be consistent (if you struggle with this, I feel you! This was super hard for me to master in the beginning).
Good luck to you on your brand story journey. If you need help, drop a comment or join my mailing list for weekly tips sent straight to your inbox!
Until next time,