brandstoryIn case you haven’t heard, a list of features and benefits are things of the marketing past. People want to know you. Relate to you. They want to hear your story, and they make choices based on what it is.

Brand stories are the way to your market’s wallets, but first and foremost, they’re the way to their hearts. Not sure how to go about it? Here’s what needs to go into your story and some tips on how to decide what to put in it.

What’s important in your story?

The story of your brand is both about you and your customers. You need to be honest, authentic, and transparent about your reasons for doing what you do. You also need to appeal to what is most important to your consumers. You need to reach them on a personal level, tying your purpose for business to their purpose for buying your product or service. This can be a fine line because it’s tempting to just tell your audience what you think it wants to hear. If consumers get any hint of crap from you and your story, they will turn on you. Be genuine about what you do and why you do it, and be genuine about how the consumer’s life will change because of it.

Your story is not a one-page summary buried in your business plan, never again to see the light of day. Your story lives. Your story may even evolve. It can have a situation, conflict, and resolution. The resolution can be evident in each new marketing campaign or product. However you go about it, make it consistent.

Your ongoing story needs to have a share-worthy quality. Look at social media. What are the most commonly shared posts? People really connect with inspirational quotes and human-interest pieces. People want their hearts touched. They also appreciate humor. Your brand should have a personality, and that personality will shine through in your social media, customer service, and marketing efforts.

As with anything you read, you need to address the who, what, where, when, and why. These can overlap, but really think about these and how you are special. Who are you? Who can relate to you? What is your intention with creating this wonderful thing you have? Are you using any special materials for your projects? Where are you located? When did you start? Where were you when you started? Why are you doing this? What gets you motivated to work hard? How are you making your product or service differently than your competitors?

Writing your story

If you’re unsure where to start with your brand story, there are many questions you can answer to figure it out. The who, what, where, when, why should be a start. Here are several more to help you:

  • What is the story of how your brand started?
  • How did your brand change people’s life for the better?
  • What is the story of your brand’s core values and beliefs?
  • What is the story of your last product launch?
  • What was the path that got you here today?
  • What inspired you to choose this career?
  • What values do you hold close to you?
  • How is your product or service different than others?
  • How can you set yourself apart and succeed in your industry?
  • If you could have a room full of handpicked consumers, clients, and audience members, who would they be?

Another way to figure out your story is to do a card sorting exercise:

  1. Compose a list of keywords that are relevant to your brand. Include words from employees as well as customers (from testimonials, for example.)
  2. Put each key word on a note card
  3. Sort through the cards and choose only the words that are truly relevant and important to your brand.
  4. Prioritize the words you keep.
  5. Create sentences that describe your brand using the words you’ve kept.
  6. Piece together your message architecture.

If you’re completely at a loss on your story, you can also let client testimonials tell it for you. Choose the messages that really resonate with you and why you’re in business. Pay attention to what is most important in your consumers’ eyes as well.

Remember: include aspects that explain what makes you different, why you do what you do, and why people should care. In part two, we will cover how to match your story with the rest of your brand and what to do with your brand story when you have it written.

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