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Brand storytelling has never been more important.

In a time of increasing competition and uncertain economic times brands who have a unique story that connects with its customers will thrive.

Brand stories are nothing new.

They’ve been around for years, Apple and Coca Cola are probably the best known examples of brands using their story. But how do you build a story that connects with customers? One that resonates on a emotional level to build a long lasting connection with your audience.

Our brains connect with stories

Why do brands use stories?

If you’ve ever read fiction or a story you’ll know how intensely you can feel the experience you’re reading about, as if it is actually happening to you.

When the brain detects an emotionally charged event, the amygdala releases dopamine into the system. Because dopamine greatly aids memory and information processing, you could say it creates a Post It note that reads, ‘Remember this.’”



John Medina, Brain Rules

Brands use stories to tune us into their message, to feel some sort of connection with them through a shared experience of a story.

via GIPHY

Big brands start small

The numbers of times I’ve heard the question “who is your customer?” answered with “everyone” is shocking. The days of everyone being your customer have all but ended, if they ever existed in the first place.

Yes your idea might grow to appeal to the masses but start by building a brand around people who care about something very, very specific.

Brands who have achieved global domination in recent years didn’t start out with millions of customers. They started by finding smaller groups of people who were obsessed with a very specific problem.

  • Uber: found people who were sick of waiting for taxis, not knowing when they were turning up.
  • Deliveroo: found people who wanted restaurant quality food without having to stop watching Netflix.
  • Slack: found people who were annoyed by email communication and wanted a faster way to communicate with their team.

By focusing on a small group of people with a very specific problem they were able to build a community of fans who spread their story.

via GIPHY

You helped someone change something that was really annoying them. That’s your story.

Find people who are ready to listen to what you have to say. Tell them why you’re the person to lead them to the solution and then do what you say you’re going to do.

The beginning, middle and end

To connect with customers you need to be the brand to solve a specific problem they have, then create a story with a beginning, middle and end aka the problem, your solution and the results.

  1. Beginning / The Problem: identify who your customers are, what specific pain points they have and why they care enough to make a change in their lives.
  2. Middle / Your Solution & Promise: craft your message around your customer, what is your reason for wanting to help them? Why are you the best person to help them? Are you reasons personal? What are you promising you will do to help your customer solve their problem?
  3. End / Your Customers’ Results: this is where your story spreads. By being remarkable and delivering on the promise you made to help your customer solve a problem you’re creating a way for your idea to spread to more and more people.

Communicating your brand story

To connect with your audience you’re going to need to use some storytelling tactics used by successful brands.

  • Craft a unique personality: brands who are smashing their marketing have personality. Think Gymshark, Aldi, Spotify and Paddy Power – they all know who they are and use imagery and content to share their message consistently. They stay true to their brand and communicate authentically.
  • Be value driven: by focusing on values that resonate with your customer you can make value based decisions when you’re expanding the business. Does this fit with what my customers value? No. Don’t do it.
  • Make it easy for your customers to share your story: the easiest way to spread stories is by having other people share them for you. Make it easy for your customers to spread the word and be remarkable by going above and beyond your brand promises.

Conclusion

Your customers are your story.

Your story isn’t set in stone, it should evolve over time. Stick to your core values but innovate and respond to changes.

Brands who will survive in times of uncertainty are those who have a deep connection with their customers and ones who adapt to their ever changing needs.

Author

Mitchel runs ethical marketing agency Reward which works with brands doing good, he's passionate about social mobility, the environment and ethical business.

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