Businesses can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on marketing, social media, and content creation, but all of that is futile without a solid brand strategy. That’s where storytelling comes in – by creating a powerful brand story, businesses can increase the perceived value of their product or service, earn the loyalty and engagement of their audience, and clearly communicate their vision and purpose to the outside world.
Branding is a key (and often overlooked) component of setting up a business, and powerful storytelling can generate massive results in your life and business. In fact, the most successful companies in the world have profound stories behind them that instill a sense of bigger purpose and meaning into what they do.
I share three simple steps to crafting a captivating brand story that will resonate with your audience:
1. Share a relatable journey
Think of your brand story as a journey you are taking your audience through: the hero (brand) goes through a tense situation because they believe in something more, they push through growth-inducing challenges, and eventually, find a resolution that benefits the audience. The most relatable brand stories address the struggles, wins, beliefs, and highlights that occur during the journey.
When mapping out a story arc that audiences can follow and authentically connect with, it’s helpful to create a framework that clearly identifies a vision, core values, and an ideal audience (read more on how to do that here). The story should directly or indirectly address who the brand is, what it stands for, and why.
2. Offer value in every piece of content
When it comes to effectively communicating your brand story, quality is far more important than quantity.
While consistently publishing content is a must, it’s far better to post a few meaningful, strategic pieces than tons of thoughtless content that people will scroll past. Brevity is preferred, but long-form content can also be powerful so long as it offers value to your ideal audience. For example, since my brand revolves around storytelling, my long-form posts receive far more engagement than my 180-character ones. My audiences look for substance and are willing to consume more content if I am delivering on expectations.
To offer value, ask yourself:
- What is the key takeaway the audience is walking away with? If this can’t be summarized in a sentence or less, the message is likely confusing.
- What is the result your audience receives from consuming this piece of story? This can be mindset-driven (they’re inspired, motivated, or moved), as well as measurable (they have a checklist, instructions, or tips).
- Take it a step further – what will transform in your audience’s life if they continue to subscribe to your story? For example, do you want to push them to follow their dreams, to dress for success, or take control of their finances? The transformation should be closely tied to the brand vision.
Respect your audience’s time and attention by being intentional with the story you feed them. Your audience will appreciate consuming content that serves them and come back for more.
3. Include a call to action for your audience
A brand story can have a tight framework and strategy, but it won’t stick without an element of human connection. At the end of the day, we share stories because it reminds us of our humanity – no amount of big data or marketing savvy can replace our fundamental human need to feel connected.
Offering calls to action is a great way for brands to engineer moments of human connection. Calls to action don’t necessarily have to be sales pitches or requests for purchase – they could be, for example, natural and genuine invitations for the audience to share their stories, opinions, or connect with one another.
Brands can leverage content to set up a tension, resolve for that tension, and then ask for engagement through a call to action. My most engaging posts are when I get very vulnerable about a real-life situation I’m struggling with (e.g. not taking proper care of myself, working too hard, feeling self-conscious), tell a story about what I’m doing to move past that struggle, and ask my audience for thoughts on how they’ve dealt with similar issues. If I am promoting my articles or services, I gently direct them to a link where they can learn more.
The authenticity of the story is made or ruined by what is being asked of the audience at the end of the message: be tactful in creating a safe space for people to respond, directing to a service or product, or offering actionable tips to solve a problem. Even more importantly, you should be just as genuine in responding to the people who engage as you were in asking them to do so.
To create an engaged and loyal community, you first need to give people a reason to believe in your brand. The most powerful brand stories tap into the humanity of any situation and speak to it in a way that strongly resonates with the ideal audience. Once you communicate a story that’s powerful and easy to understand, it’s only a matter of continuing to provide your audience with the high-quality content and value they deserve.
Originally published on Forbes