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How to Create Compelling Brand Stories in a Noisy World

How to Create Compelling Brand Stories in a Noisy World

Storytelling has been considered an art form for millennia – people capable of telling compelling stories have always been treated with respect and fascination.

Today, this is reflected even in the way people are making their buying decisions.

Brands with interesting, original, unusual stories can hope to sell more than their blander competitors.

The reason is, stories touch upon emotions; and the latest findings in neuroscience show that human beings make decisions based mostly on emotions and not on logic.

The human brain is hardwired to be fascinated by good storytelling – and your business can benefit from it.

Nevertheless, even today many companies don’t try to create and tell their brand stories or make only perfunctory efforts in this area.

In this article, I will discuss ways you can construct a better brand story, present it in a more favorable light and effectively engage with your current and potential clients.

1. Embrace your status as an underdog

If you are currently an underdog in your industry, especially if it is dominated by large and well-established companies, you needn’t try to be what you aren’t. On the contrary, the very status of an underdog can serve as a foundation of an attractive brand story.

Firstly, because people love the plucky underdog opposing stronger opponents despite all the hardships. Secondly, because the very fact of being an underdog means already being in the middle of a story – a story about pursuing an ambitious goal and, potentially, dethroning a stronger competitor. Thirdly, because underdogs are more relatable, personal and human than large faceless corporations.

2. Use a variety of formats

A brand story needn’t be comprised only of text, and it needn’t be located only in one place. If you want to convey your meaning effectively, you have to make several formats work together. Your website copy, images you use, videos, even interactive content – all this should work in conjunction with each other. The entire presentation of your brand, both on and offline, should speak about its story, directly and indirectly.

Therefore, you should make sure all the parts of your message are professionally made. If you don’t have special skills in any of these areas, hire experts. Find good copywriters to write content for your website, professional photographers and illustrators to provide high-quality visual imagery, a video production company to prepare video content (and preferably study a comprehensive guide before deciding what your video should be like).

3. Show, don’t tell

This phrase is often cited as one of the primary principles of storytelling in general, and it is just as true for brand promotion as it is for literature or the film industry. Don’t waste your readers’ time telling them how awesome your brand is and what qualities it has­ – instead, focus on telling the stories of individual people who have benefited from your product; or specific challenges you and your team overcame; or a typical day in the life of your company.

4. Show off your failures

Advertising is traditionally all about advantages, success, and victory; so much so that people today often filter out the majority of messages based on them, or at least take them with a grain of salt.

The idea of putting forth your failures may sound absurd to a conservative marketer but think about this: the idea of a brand story is to be relatable and human, and there is nothing more relatable and human than making mistakes.

No human being (or company) is flawless, and organizations that only speak about their successes often come across as insincere and phony. And vice versa, if you own up to your mistakes, clients will see you as somebody who is honest and can be trusted.

5. Make the customer the hero of your story

Brand stories become truly compelling when your customers can put themselves at their center.

That’s it: when you don’t tell about the tribulations your company had to go through, focus not on yourself or your product, but on real people using your product or service.

Think about how the situation looks from the client’s point of view. What is the main problem they are facing? How can your product change their lives for the better? Then show it.

6. Make your story short, simple and vivid

According to marketing experts, an average human is exposed to about 5,000 advertising messages every day, and this number is constantly growing. This means that to stand out your message should be short, vivid and to the point.

Facebook has created an ultimate version of this with its mini-ads that give you 6 seconds to grab a potential customer’s attention, forcing you to condense your message as much as possible. In other words, you don’t have time to lead up to your message gradually – you should hit the reader/viewer with everything you have as soon as they start reading/viewing.

7. Be consistent

If you choose to be humorous, remain so throughout all your storytelling. If you select a particular visual style, stick to it in all your media. Set limitations upon yourself – this will help you stand out and be more creative (because you will have to invent new methods of solving problems with your limited toolset).

Don’t overcomplicate your storytelling – clients value simple messages they can connect to emotionally, not something they have to spend time deciphering.

If your first brand story doesn’t turn out to be ideal, don’t worry – nobody says you are limited to only one. You will have an opportunity to create other stories, and they will get better with experience.

Guest author: Melissa Burns is an independent journalist and business consultant. Marketing, business innovations, and technology are central topics of her articles. She started writing with a single goal of sharing her expertise with other people. Melissa also provides workshops for start-ups and small businesses.

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