Isn’t storytelling an overhyped branding word?
Actually, no. Storytelling can be a very important branding tool, if you know how to use it to your advantage. Storytelling is not an overhyped branding word, but a means of focusing your communication around a central theme and creating consistent brand messages. Furthermore, narrative has been argued to be a very natural occurrence in the human brain, as a natural way of making sense of the world and our experiences, and storing and understanding memories. Things are easier to understand in story form, which makes storytelling a useful tool to explain complicated business concepts/ideas, brand values, etc to your stakeholders.
What defines a story?
Generally, a story has a beginning, middle and an end. Good stories have a conflict, and engage their audiences emotionally. Engaging your audience emotionally through your story is an important idea to remember, since this may lead to positive psychological co-creation, and effective word of mouth for your business and brand.
Other important elements of stories are authenticity, honesty and credibility. These go hand in hand with good brand communication, as you want you brand to seem (and be) authentic, honest and credible. Stories are also more effective at communicating your brand values when they have moral and ethical undertones. So highlighting the activities your business carries out to help others can be extra effective.
How do you use storytelling in branding?
The important thing to note is that storytelling need not involve lots of drama, a villain or even a clear beginning, middle or end to be engaging. Rather, in using storytelling in branding, you want to make sure that all your communication revolves around a central theme. For example, if I had to describe the “story” that I model Web Couture’s communication around, I would say:
Web Couture was founded to help small businesses with their online web presence. I am met with resistance in that I am a self-taught graphic designer and front-end developer, and constantly learning. However, I have a deeper knowledge and understanding of branding and marketing than most web designers, and I am a hard and passionate worker. Through understanding the core of your brand and activities, and modeling your website, graphics and content to embody your brand’s values, identity and message, Web Couture will dress your brand for the web.
And more concisely, my theme:
Dressing your brand for the web.
The brand story can show up (also visually, storytelling is not only verbal) in several places, for instance:
- Your business logo, motto/tagline, mission, vision and values
- The customers you choose to take on
- The potential customers that you openly engage with online (for example through Twitter)
- Your about page & background story
- The graphics on your website
Till Next time
Homework till next Monday’s Branding 101 post is to think about your brand story through these easy five steps:
1. What are your brand’s values as you see them?
2. What message(s) does your name, logo, tagline and website convey about your brand?
3. Do these visible key features line up with how you see your brand values?
4. Who are your main social media buddies, followers and potential clients? Who do you follow, and what do you tweet about?
5. Do your messages to these groups follow your brand values?
If you answer no to 3 and 5, you’ll definitely want to stay tuned for next Monday when I write more about how you can practically use storytelling to gain consistent communication of your brand values.
By the way
If you want to read more about what storytelling can do for your brand take a look at these books:
- What’s your story? Storytelling to move markets, audiences, people and brands by Mathews & Wacker, 2007
- Storytelling – Branding in practice by Fog, Budtz & Yakaboylu, 2004
- The dream society: How the coming shift from information to imagination will transform your business by Jensen, 1999
For more posts about branding and marketing for small businesses, take a look at the Branding 101 category.
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