Telling Brand Stories: How to Build Trust With Your Customers
Brand storytelling, or brand narratives, is the central storyline of a product’s marketing. Each element of the story—logo, tagline, tagline slogan, and so on—is developed to establish a singular brand identity that will resonate with consumers.
The truth is, there are countless ways to tell a brand story. And while some companies tend to focus solely on selling their products and services, others take the approach of providing value to customers first and foremost. This can be done by sharing stories about the people behind the brand or by offering unique content and exclusive experiences. However, simply creating great content isn’t enough. To capture attention and interest in your brand, you need to craft a brand story that’s relevant and memorable.
Brands are built on trust. They’re built on customer loyalty.
They’re built on the ability to tell brand stories that are consistent and authentic.
And they’re built on the ability to connect with their customers personally and build a stronger relationship with them than any other relationship in their lives.
So how do you do it?
Brand Storytelling Creates Trust
Brand storytelling is an effective way to create trust. Research shows that when customers read a story about a brand’s value proposition, they are more likely to believe the claims made by the brand.
Brand stories are short stories that offer context for a product or service. They are often written entertainingly, allowing customers to understand a product’s or service’s benefit. We can do this through descriptive text, images, videos, or audio.
When we see a brand story on television, we know that the narrator speaks to us in a language we understand. It’s like having a friend speak to us. We begin to see the brand story through the eyes of the narrator and begin to think, “This brand is trustworthy.”
There are three critical steps to creating a powerful brand story:
Step 1. Identify the problem
A problem is a shortcoming or frustration preventing customers from achieving their goals. Problems are unavoidable, so it’s crucial to find out what people want from a brand before designing a strategy for communicating that value.
Ask your customers questions like:
- What problems are keeping you from achieving your goals?
- How would you describe your ideal solution?
- Why do you choose this brand?
These questions help identify the problem you want to solve and the benefit you are offering your customers. It would be best to consider whether the problem is internal (e.g., low customer service) or external (e.g., a competitor).
Step 2. Find the correct solution
The solution is what the brand does to solve the identified problem. It’s your job to determine the value proposition that will sell your product or service to your customers. A great product solves customers’ problems while offering them something they can’t find anywhere else.
Finding the best solution for your customers is your job as a marketer. Do you offer a service or a product? Are you an innovator or a follower?
A great product or service will automatically lead to trust. It’s more complex. If you offer a truly exceptional product, your customers may decide that your brand is the best.
The truth is that a customer is unlikely to trust a brand if the brand isn’t trustworthy. It’s up to you to develop your brand’s reputation.
Step 3. Tell the brand story
Once you have identified the solution and the problem, it’s time to tell a brand story. A brand story is a brief narrative that explains how your product or service solves your customer’s problem.
A brand story helps customers imagine the benefits of the brand. It gives them a glimpse of what it’s like to work with the brand. And it provides the context that customers need to make sense of your product or service.
A brand story is more than just a description of what a brand does. It’s also an invitation to engage in a conversation with the brand.
Your Brand Story Needs Personality
Brands with personalities, or unique characters, appeal to customers. People relate to brands they like, understand, and connect with them.
When designing your brand story, consider what personality you want to communicate and how that personality relates to your products, services, and company. The key is to consider what makes your brand memorable and the traits that characterize it.
Consider these questions to determine your brand’s personality:
- Do you represent reliability, quality, integrity, or fun?
- Does your brand focus on technology, craftsmanship, or design?
- What’s your mission, and does it involve helping others?
- What values do you promote?
- What is the personality of your product or service?
- How do your products and services work?
- Who are your customers, and how are they different from your competitors?
These questions will help you determine your brand’s personality and potential to attract and inspire customers.
As you think through the answers, consider whether your brand has a story, and if so, what is it?
Keep Your Brand Story Simple
We’ve all had our share of branding missteps. From being too complex to simple, too long-winded to too short, our brands often need to be more transparent and compelling. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
There’s no reason why we need to overcomplicate brand messaging. We can do more harm than good if we explain our brand in too much detail.
Instead, the best brands make it easy to understand precisely what they stand for. Their story is simple and compelling, and that’s what you want to convey to your audience.
Examples of Brands telling Brand Stories
When you read the names of brands like Nike, Nike+ Training Club, and Nike+ FuelBand, you know exactly what they stand for. Sure, they’re complex concepts—but when you put them into words, it’s easy to understand. You can even imagine how their products might work for you.
For example, the Nike+ Running app is simple enough to explain but provides enough information to inspire action. Just knowing that you’ll be able to track your runs, compete with friends, and earn points for future purchases is just the beginning.
You could also be familiar with the phrase “Think Different.” How often have you seen that slogan or heard someone say that they’d rather have “one less thing to worry about” than to think about their life? That’s the kind of simplicity that’s so refreshing.
It’s not always about having a clever name or catchy tagline. Sometimes it’s more important to focus on what the brand stands for.
In his book, sports mathematician John Urschel explains that champions don’t necessarily focus on their strengths. Instead, they focus on what makes them champions.
Focusing on the things that are difficult for you or make you unique will help you succeed. Don’t let the world complicate your brand; make it simple.
Focus on Why Your Brand Exists
Why does your brand exist? Why do you exist? Why do you matter? These are the questions that form the foundation of a brand story. When you ask yourself those questions, you can connect with your audience in a new way, creating a more meaningful connection that drives action.
Instead of focusing on why your brand exists, it’s far more impactful to focus on why people care. For example, if you’re a tech brand, your why might be to help people communicate faster, share information better, and access information on demand. If you’re a financial services company, your why might be to empower people to make better financial decisions through transparency and choice.
With these foundational questions in mind, we can tell the brand story. We can talk about why you exist and why your brand matters, but in the end, it’s really about what you do and why you exist.
Use Your Story to Connect with Your Customers
A well-told brand story inspires loyalty. People like to know where their products come from, who makes them, and what they do. That’s why a well-told brand story is one of the best ways to connect with customers.
By connecting with your customers, you become more human, and people will be more willing to engage with you, talk about your brand, and spread the word about your company. When you create a sense of trust and connection with customers, it’s much easier to build your business.
Customers Buy a Part of the Story, Not Just a Product
While the brand story is essential, there are three key aspects that you need to consider to build the best possible story.
First, the best stories are authentic. They focus on the customers and the real issues that matter to them. And they are truthful—they reflect the reality of how the customers live, work, and play. They are told from the perspective of a customer, not a brand. They show the brand’s human side rather than the corporate side.
Share the Value
Second, the best stories are about the value that a customer gets from a product or service. They are more than just promotional messages—they are about customers’ experiences. They share what makes the product or service unique, why customers love it, and how it improves their lives.
Demonstrate the Benefits
Third, the best stories communicate a customer’s benefits from the product or service. These are the results that customers can see, touch, hear, and smell. They are a demonstration of the value that comes from using the product or service.
Get Other People to Tell Your Brand Story
We know a story is powerful when told by a brand, and we can prove it to you.
As marketers, it’s our job to ensure that brands tell their own stories and that they’re effective at doing it. But what happens when your product could be more unique and compelling? When customers have heard a specific brand’s story a million times, how do you convince them to hear it again?
At some point, most of us experience the sensation of wanting to share something with a friend or colleague but not having anyone to share it with. You know what we’re talking about—you’ve sat in a restaurant with a friend and shared a meal that was so good that you both felt compelled to order seconds. You’ve met someone with a great sense of humor and want to share that with everyone. Maybe you’ve even tried to tell your friends about a fun experience you’ve had and were met with blank stares.
You get the idea.
Brands often experience this same lack of awareness, and their products and services need to be more uniquely compelling. Their stories haven’t been told. No one has heard them.
To help brands reach people where they live, work, play, and love, we created The Story Lab, a research firm that explores how consumers and employees think about brands. We work with leading organizations worldwide to understand how to tell their brand’s story so people can hear it.
Our mission is to help organizations create memorable experiences and conversations with consumers and employees.
How to Be a Better Brand Storyteller
The amount of online information is increasing every day, which can lead to a feeling of overwhelm. We rely on social media to help us stay informed, and brands need to be savvy in reaching consumers.
Stories are one of the best ways to connect with customers on multiple levels and help businesses build relationships with their target market. We can use them to sell products, engage potential customers, and share knowledge with existing ones.
To develop your storytelling skills, take the following tips into account:
Know What You’re Trying to Sell
Before you write a single word, you must know precisely what your product or service is. This will help you avoid creating content that doesn’t connect with your audience.
Focus on the Value of Your Product or Service
Your product or service should be the focal point of your content. Make sure your story focuses on your product or service’s value.
Create Content That Resonates With Your Audience
Most importantly, you should create content that resonates with your audience. You don’t need to do this through a deep analysis of your audience but by using your own experiences and listening to customer feedback.
Ask Your Target Market for Help
The best stories are the ones that are based on your audience’s feedback. Ask your target market to give you suggestions on how you can improve your content.
Humor is a great way to connect with your audience and break the monotony of the content. It’s a proven technique that helps you gain trust and credibility, but remember to use humor sparingly and make sure it aligns with your overall story.
Best Time to Share Your Story?
Generally, it would be best if you aimed to publish your story at the moment most relevant to your audience. For example, if you’re a business owner, publishing your story at 9 a.m. might be more effective than sharing it at 3 p.m. when people are on their lunch break.
Brand storytelling is powerful. They can communicate much about who you are and what you stand for. When done well, they can inspire your audience and encourage them to engage.
The problem is that most people need to learn how to tell brand stories. They don’t know how to build customer trust and create memorable experiences.
If you’re new to brand storytelling, it’s worth investing in courses or reading books that teach you how to write a story. It will pay off in spades.
Read this article about telling brand stories and learn how to build trust with your audience. Get started today!