Updated: Feb 26, 2022
Here’s what you do to attract customers by telling a brand story - You grab a pot of coffee, sit down at your computer, and write.
Every brand story writer starts with a blank page and only succeeds by typing. Telling a story doesn’t take a lot of time. Now editing, revising, and polishing a story – That takes time, a whole lotta time. I love what Hemmingway said about the first draft, - it’s sh*^! When you sit down to write your brand story, don’t sweat it because your keyboard has a delete button. Let the words flow on the screen and then worry about what you will say.
The good news about brand storytelling is, you don’t have to submit 60 000 – 90 000 words to an editor. You only need 280 characters for a Tweet, 20-50 words for a social media post, and 1500 – 2000 words for a blog post. Which do you think is harder to write, a Tweet or a novel? Not which takes the longest, which is the hardest.
Try to tell your brand story using only 6 words, can you do it?
Hemmingway’s style of writing is perfect for social media and online content consumers because he used as few words as possible. His famous short story is 6 words: Baby shoes for sale, never worn.
It’s brilliant because he doesn’t tell you the story, he lets you experience it. Practice telling your brand’s story with as few words as possible.
Brainstorm a list of questions using the 5 Ws and How. You know, the who, what, where, when, why and how of a story. Once you have written out all the questions, answer them using as few words as possible, while still showing off the personality and humour of the corporate brand. If you don’t know your brand’s personality, we need to go back to the drawing board to determine tone, voice, and image of your brand before you start telling brand stories.
Here’s a few questions to start:
Who was your brand’s last customer?
What problem did they have?
Why did they have this problem?
When did they choose your solution? (what was the sales process)
Why did they choose your company?
Where did you solve their problem?
How did you solve their problem?
What happened when you solved the problem?
Want a worksheet to help you define your brand story? Download the Brand Story Workbook.
When I write a novel, I ask questions about the situation, the environment, and how my characters will react. Just don’t ask who I am asking, you might feel a need to send me white wall padding. As I answer questions, a story materialises and all that is left is choosing the right structure.
Think back to your high school English class, how many parts are there to a story? If you slept through English class, guess. If you answered 3, you get an A. Every story has a beginning a middle and an end, but not every beginning is the first thing that happened. A story can start by describing what happened in the middle of the story or even at the end before going back and filling in the gaps. Storytellers use flexible timelines to bring audiences into the story faster and hooking them by engaging their curiosity.
Let’s make this interesting,
I challenge you to start your brand story with the solution and without giving away the whole story in the first sentence.
Since I want you to succeed in your brand storytelling adventure, I’ll give you a bit of help with this example:
Joe shook my hand with a smile on his lips and relief in his eyes. “I thought I <fill in the quote with his worst fear.>” he said. It could have been a disaster if <describe the worst-case scenario> and for a while there, I wondered if we were going to <insert solution>. It was <time> on a <day> when Joe walked in to our <place of business> looking for a <solution> and he needed it by <urgent deadline> or else he was going to have to move into the doghouse permanently. <The doghouse can be swapped out for the real stakes of your story. The stakes are what trouble your customers would be in if he didn’t get a solution.>
You now have the beginning of your story.
You’ve let your audience know Joe was happy with the result, he had a problem, things could have gone horribly wrong. Your audience is now curious to know what happened.
Why Do You Need to Tell Brand Stories?
Our society needs to be entertained to pay attention. The more entertaining the story, the more our emotions are triggered, the better we will remember the story when we find ourselves in the same situation. The idea is to show – not tell – your audience why you are the best choice to solve their problem. Like Hemmingway did with his 6-word story.
Have more questions about brand story telling? Perfect send them to me and I’ll tell you a story. email@example.com
A Brand Story is a Journey not a Sprint
Often times we think a person needs to know everything about what we do so we bury them in a diatribe about us. The result is, they walk away confused and unsure about what it is that you do. This happens when a brand is more concerned about the result they want and less about who their audience is.
Good storytellers know who their audience is and what they need to know before they even write one word. With practice and insight, the process becomes more about intuition and less about analysing. One way for you to determine what your audience, customer, or employee needs to know is to switch places with them.
What would you need to know to make the decision?
Figure out what the climax of your story will be. The moment you solved the problem and changed a negative into a positive. This part goes at the end of the 2nd part of your story, the middle. Once you have the climax you can work back to tell the story between the beginning and the climax and you'll be able to stay on point by focusing on one story at a time.
Write out the story you want to tell. Go over it and remove anything that is not supporting the path to the climax, you aren't writing a murder mystery, no red herrings are not necessary. As you go over each sentence, you will figure out what you need to keep in and what you don't need to help someone choose your business to solve their problem.
When it comes time to give the pitch, presentation, or answer, don't worry if you forget something or don't recite it word for word. The point is not to memorise a script, the point is for you to learn which details matter to your audience and which ones can be left until another conversation. It will take practice to get it polished.
I am forever going over my blog posts, stories, and interviews to try to improve upon how I tell stories to the marketplace. I'll add a paragraph one week, then remove it the next, all in an effort to tell a better story.
Don't forget the ASK - or the End of Your Brand Story
You are still in business, you are still alive and kicking, so your brand story is far from finished. Still you will need to bring the chapters of your stories to a close by providing the result of your efforts to solve the customer's problem. Share the outcome and then ask your audience to continue on to the next chapter of your brand story. Whether that is asking for their business, to give you their email address, or clicking to read another blog post. Don't leave your audience hanging too long before providing them with a feeling of resolution.
MarketAPeel can be with you every step of the way as you build your brand story with a guided DIY program with copy, templates, tasks, challenges, and accountability. Discover more by clicking the red words below.
Click for the MarketAPeel Guided DIY Build Your Brand Story Digital Footprint for Thought Leaders Program
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