Story Branding 101: How to Create a Captivating Brand Story in 4 Simple Steps
Every business is a relationship business.
And stories have always been and will remain, the main way people relate to each other.
A good story teaches you something, makes you care, and inspires you to take action — all at the same time. Master the art of storytelling, and you’ll make your brand irresistible to your target customers!
So what makes a great brand story? Why do we shrug some of them off and move on, while others lodge themselves deep in our memory, almost despite ourselves?
In short, it’s all about three elements…
- Emotional resonance
- Relevance to the audience
In this week’s article, we’re going to show you how to create a story that nails all three — and more! Read on to learn the 4 steps for creating a powerful, engaging story for your brand…
Step 1. Define your reason for existing
In his book “Start With Why” — and his many excellent talks — Simon Sinek says this:
“People don’t care about what you do, they care about why you do it.”
We’d like to put a different spin on this idea… as outrageous as it feels to correct someone like Simon! It goes like this, “In order to care about what you do, people need to know and care about why you do it.”
So before you write down a single word of your brand story, ask yourself: why does your brand exist? What’s your mission as an entrepreneur, beyond just making money and improving your own life? There’s nothing wrong with those things, of course — but they don’t make for a good story.
Once you zero in on your “why,” try to summarize it in one sentence. A good template is, “[Your brand] helps [your target market] to [the problem you’re solving].” It doesn’t need to be any more complicated than that.
Step 2. Map your brand’s journey
Eventually, we’ll get into more sophisticated storytelling frameworks and formulas on this blog. But for now, let’s keep it simple: every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
OK, that’s a bit too simple! So let’s unpack these, one by one:
- The beginning of your brand story needs to capture why your brand exists. You already have the short answer from Step One — now it’s time to elaborate! Describe the problem you are solving. Then, tell people what made you want to solve it. And if you can’t pinpoint a single pivotal moment, just say that you had a passion for it!
- The middle of your story is all about how you’re solving the problem. This is where you describe the struggles, the discoveries, the conflicts, and the villains (if you have any). Basically, write out how your brand arrived at this moment. Before you add any details, think back to your “why” and ask yourself: if you include this, does it help to reinforce the core message? If the answer is no, cut it. Yes, even if it makes you look totally amazing!
- The end. Of course, it isn’t the end of your story — not really. But you do need a conclusion of some kind. So here’s what you do: celebrate! Talk about the success you’ve produced. Describe the impact you’ve made on your customers, your community, the world — or all of the above. Give your audience an exciting payoff!
Of course, as long as your brand exists, your story will continue. That means you need to do something else, too…
Step 3. Paint your brand’s ideal future
OK, this might sound crazy, but we’re going to say this anyway…
The most valuable part of your story is everything that hasn’t happened yet.
Here’s why: if you want to win your customers’ hearts and minds, you can’t just tell them you’ve had a good run. You have to get them emotionally invested in your future.
Luckily, it’s not that hard — because the future is always full of potential! However amazing you’ve been doing up to this moment, you hope and plan to accomplish even more.
So don’t keep your ambitious vision for the future to yourself and your team. Instead, use it to connect with your customers!
“Painting the future” is easily the most underrated story branding technique. But when done well, it can inspire millions of people to take action: spread the word about you, buy your products, or even come work for you.
If you want examples, just look at companies like Tesla, or Apple, or WeWork. Their versions of the future may not be “realistic” — but they are powerful, and they resonate.
Of course, you don’t need to add a 12-point world domination plan to your brand story. But you do want to:
- Share some reasonably ambitious plans for the future and
- Connect them directly to what your customers want or believe in.
For example, you can be straightforward and tell them what’s in it for them (new products, expanding to new locations, improvements to service, etc.) — or you can talk about your broader mission and values and confirm your future commitment to them.
Finally, you can also describe other ways your brand plans to make an impact, like your community initiatives, charitable work, and new partnerships.
Step 4. Add humor and personality
Now that you have your story, it’s time to give it some extra oomph!
You don’t want to sound like thousands upon thousands of boring About pages and mission statements all over the Internet. So use the magical power of editing to go back through your story and make it glimmer with personality and humor.
Here are a few ways you can achieve this:
- Use plain English as much as possible. Remember: most people don’t speak corporatese! Remove all unnecessary jargon, unless those are the exact words your target customers would use themselves.
- Add low-key humor. Good options include puns (yes, they are cheesy, but people love them anyway), witty analogies, occasional interjections (yay!), and other inoffensive humor. If your brand personality allows for spicier stuff, you should go for it — don’t let us stop you!
- Consider writing in the 1st or 2nd person. If your personality is a big part of your branding, then it makes a lot of sense to tell the story from your perspective as the business owner. Also, it’s often a good idea to talk directly to the person reading/listening to/watching — after all, that’s how storytelling is supposed to work!
- Throw in some power words. For extra clarity and punch, see if you can’t infuse your brand story with power words. That way, it’s more likely to grab attention and engage your audience. We cover some good power words in this post… or you can always check out this humongous list for inspiration.
Here’s an idea: tell your brand story with video!
Video is hands-down the most engaging way to present information — which makes it the perfect medium to share your captivating story with the world…
How do we know your story is going to be captivating? Because we’ll help you make it so!
Here at The Draw Shop, we employ world-class copywriters and storytellers who can discover the core of your message and make it resonate powerfully with your target audience. And then our skilled artists will bring it to life with eye-popping visuals.
Your brand deserves nothing less than an unforgettable story. If you want us to help you tell it, let’s talk!