Once Upon a Time … 5 Tips for Better Brand Storytelling

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

Anna Pfeiffer, Senior Marketing Strategist

Engaging in brand storytelling can be a daunting task, but it should be at the forefront of your marketing initiatives. These days, consumers are blinded by advertising oversaturation. If they see a message as purely commercial, they might just tune out. Consumers want to be entertained, informed, and educated. They want to build their own identity based on what they purchase and what brands they engage with. What your brand says about your products is as important as what those product purchases say about the consumer.

In order to successfully incorporate brand storytelling into your commerce marketing strategy, you need to focus not on driving revenue but on having a conversation. As you engage your audience and they become loyal customers, even brand evangelists, revenue will come naturally.

How do you get that conversation started? This can be a hard question to answer. What do you have to say? How do you connect with your audience on this level? And why is it important?

Stop thinking like a marketer, and BE the consumer. Think about what engages you with the brands you love and trust! Get started with your brand storytelling with these five tips:

1. Define Your Brand’s Purpose and Themes

You have great products or services. That’s a given. And you’ve perfected how to tell consumers just how great they are. But do you ever communicate WHY your company makes these great products? What are you trying to help the consumer accomplish with your products, and why was that important to your company in the first place? Is there a story behind why you created your brand? Let’s say you produce shapewear for women. Don’t focus on the product – focus on what it DOES for your customers. You’re not in the business of selling shapewear; you’re in the business of building women’s self-confidence!

2. Listen to Your Audience

Don’t just guess at what interests your customers and prospects. Listen to them to find out what drives their engagement. Monitor their interactions on social networks to hear what they’re really talking about, and then speak to those topics in your brand story. Give them ways to connect with you and with content they will appreciate. Tell them how to achieve what they’re looking for with your product by relating it to the lifestyle they’ve indicated they want, based on their interactions with your brand.

3. Identify Your Differentiators

It’s not all about creating a counter-story to your competitors, but you must clarify why your brand is different. Find ways to explain how your brand does things outside of the norm. What makes you stand out? What problems can you solve that your competitors cannot? Don’t focus entirely on comparisons and keeping score, but make sure part of your brand story is about differentiating yourself in the marketplace.

4. Craft a Brand Personality

Your brand needs to speak with heart! Share the people, the driving forces and the passion behind your company. Why do you do what you do? It’s not just about selling products. It’s about enriching your customers’ lives, and they need to know that’s important to you. Make sure your tone matches your brand and what you value. Is your brand a matter-of-fact problem solver? Quirky and fun-loving? Let this come through in your brand storytelling efforts. That personality is part of what makes a consumer choose you over the competition.

5. Extend Your Brand Story Beyond Your Roots

It’s not all about who you are, what you care about and how your brand came to be. It’s also about what you’ve done over time, a key to allowing your brand story to continue and iterate. Focus on telling that story through customer testimonials and other areas in which your business has made a difference. Demonstrate what you’ve done to help your customers achieve their goals and solve their problems. Show how you’ve changed products over time in response to customer feedback or based on how they can impact the world at large. Don’t just promote a product as new and improved, tell the story of WHY you made these changes.

As I mentioned before, brand storytelling can be a daunting task, and a lot of brands worry about how to not only craft this strategy but keep it moving forward without repeating the same old routine. Continue to find ways in which your brand story plays into the decisions you make as a business and how you serve your customers.

Start with these tips and then develop the storylines you can deploy across multiple channels to engage your audience. Keep the focus on the brand story instead of just the products, and you’ll find it’s not as difficult as you may think. And don’t forget to ask yourself with each message you create, “As a consumer, why should I care? Why should this interest me? What does it mean to my life?” If you start thinking this way, brand storytelling will become a lot more intuitive.

Has your brand engaged in storytelling yet? Is it something you’d like to pursue? Let me know by commenting below!