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Storytelling is an integral part of the fabric of human history.  It is how information has been handed over, from generation to generation over the centuries.  Starting off as an oral tradition, the medium and formats have changed to evolve in tandem with modern technological trends.

Despite these changes, the underlying purpose of storytelling remains the same to this day: stories facilitate a way of getting to know or understand something or someone.  More than being just words about an object, stories create meaning, facilitating an emotional connection.  This connection is the power behind a story – giving someone a reason to develop an attachment which creates increased brand engagement.

What is brand storytelling

In the same way, brand storytelling provides insight into the “who” your brand is and the “why” it provides the services it does.  This is the start of a brand story, serving to establish a connection with an audience with stories which resonate with an audience, allowing them to emotionally invest in a relationship with your brand.

Brand stories are more than the information they share.  They are a means of showing the human side of the business, giving your brand a distinctive personality and identity, which in turn creates a unique perception about your offering.

The Starbucks brand story is an excellent example of how a brand can use content to go beyond its products and services, facilitating an immediate connection.  The Starbucks story takes the customer on a journey, giving insights into its humble beginnings as a fledgling coffee company, growing into a company which uses coffee as a symbol of connecting with people.

In this way, the brand sells the idea or perhaps rather, the experience of connection, an essential human need, rather than overtly selling the actual product (i.e. the coffee).   So, by default, drinking the coffee allows you to experience connecting, allowing the brand story to come full circle in the process.

Note:  This tactic can’t be superficial.  If it’s not part of the ethos of the company, it won’t work.

As Starbucks describes in their story “we are so much more than what we brew”.   This is certainly true of the brand.  They may sell coffee but they’re in the business of creating the feeling of connection with their brand.

Creating a brand story requires thought into how you want to be perceived as a brand.  This is a significant process as it is something that becomes associated with the what and why of your brand.

How to use storytelling for your brand

If you are looking to create your brand story, here are 6 key questions to ask when creating storytelling content: 

1 – What experience do you give your customer – what benefit does your service provide?

Looking again at Starbucks, the company immediately differentiates itself by saying they strive to be different.

Starbucks doesn’t just offer coffee, it offers connection.

In the same way, other brands offer an experience or ethos beyond their product and service.  This can be seen with Jeeves Heated Towel Rails which offers the experience of luxury and indulgence or Australia Wide Chauffeur Cars which offers productivity and sophistication for its customers.

2 – What is the company background:  how did it start (either real or fictional)?

Starbucks authentic Italian flavour with an American edge has a decidedly American flavour.   This information gives insights into the motivation behind creating the company.  If you dig deeper you can uncover why and what the founders hoped to accomplish.   By sharing this content, the customer is given behind the scenes entrée into the beginnings of the brand.

3 – Who are the founding members?

These may be real or fictional.

Asking questions such as who started the brand or why did they start it?  What was the intention? This can open up a world of information about the way in which the business began with background on its founders.

4 – Company ethos – what are the values and company culture?

Two brands which come to mind, when it comes to company culture are Google and Zappos.  Both brands have an employee-centric environment.  This translates into its products.  They have an environment of innovation, in technology, products and in what they give their people, encouraging people to associate with a cutting edge, open hearted brand.

5 – What are the learning experiences from the brand?

Richard Branson and Oprah Winfrey are both charismatic entrepreneurs who speak about their experiences in relation to their brands and how this has resulted in life lessons.

Different experiences lead to different outcomes and learnings.  These can be translated into insights which can be shared.  This plays a role in helping the customer, forging a relationship in which the brand becomes part of the solution to their problems, going beyond the offerings of the product and services.

6 – What are the highs and lows of the company history?

This question often yields interesting information, allowing the company to appear more human.

Insights may be humorous, intriguing or touching.  In fact, they open up a whole world of possibilities. Either way, it reveals a common experience of the vagaries of life – further humanising the brand, creating credibility and trust as a foundation for customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

By using information from these questions, content can be created which tells the different stories about the brand.  This provides interesting insights, which draw the customer, evoking an emotional affiliation which leads to engagement with the brand.

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