Let me introduce you to Grace, a newly minted entrepreneur trying to stand out in this noisy world.
Grace is passionate about the magic of movie making and has been since she was a kid. She’s knowledgeable about the process and is just stubborn enough to pave her path.
Grace has decided to take that knowledge and passion and turn it into a business. Like everyone in the world, Grace saw the increase in online business videos where everyone is at least experimenting with the medium.
In Grace’s mind, not many people know her business and she need an education in making business videos. She decided to provide a space for entrepreneurs to improve business video skills.
She would offer tips, techniques and tricks for shooting business videos, online courses and professional consulting and video editing services.
After setting up her business, she was excited to get her first client but had no idea where to start. Grace was a passionate expert in her industry but didn’t know how to convey that in a way that would attract prospective clients.
What Grace needs is to learn the art of brand storytelling.
What is Brand Storytelling?
Brand storytelling connects your business to customers through a cohesive narrative that intertwines the facts with the emotions your brand evokes.
The Brand Building Truth
Brand building is about finding the right audience for your message and letting them do the work. Customer service, product quality, marketplace needs, the company’s mission & values, and so much more go into a business’ brand.
But, at its core, it’s just the fine art of “message matchmaking.”
Many experts today can blurt their confusing explanations of a brand, making it even harder to understand. So for simplicity, we’ll use the most concise description and best I’ve ever come across from Marty Neumeier’s book, The Brand Gap:
“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a GUT FEELING because we’re all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a PERSON’S GUT FEELING because in the end, the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets or the so-called general public. While companies can’t control this process, they can influence it by communicating the qualities that make this product (service) different than that product (service). When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand. In other words, a brand is not what YOU say it is. It’s what THEY say it is”
This is why branding is much more “message matchmaking” than anything else.
With this definition in mind, it becomes clearer that building your reputation is the key to building a brand.
You can successfully build the reputation you desire by using storytelling to control the narrative of your business.
And do it in a way that you’re speaking to the target customers you want to.
Building A Connection
Approaching branding in this way gives you a chance to influence your business’ reputation through the stories you tell and the messages you spread. Telling those tales using universal themes that your customers want to share.
Doing this will connect deeper with your audience, and your messages will reach them as if they were meant for them.
Finding stories within your business that humanizes it is much easier than you think.
You can start by telling stories about the inner workings of your business that show off its passion & humanity.
Building from that foundation, you could try out any of these 5 story techniques to build a connection:
The Failure story
“You always pass failure on your way to success.” ~ Mickey Rooney
Looking around the internet, it seems everyone wants to talk about their successes but rarely do you find someone that admits they’ve failed.
Failure is one of the most important stories you can inject into your marketing to build a genuine brand.
Let’s face it, we’re all human, and sometimes things don’t work out. Remember the time when the sidewalk jumped up and tripped you? We’ve all been there, yet we still go for walks.
Failure is a part of entrepreneurship.
Sometimes we get caught up in trying to show that perfect image to our prospects without showing how we got there (The fact that I wrote this sentence four times is proof).
Sure, you want to prove your track record, but you also want to show off those hiccups along the way. In those failures, you find common ground with your audience because you can provide them with the lessons learned and obstacles you overcame.
If you’re looking for authentic brand transparency, tell your audience that even your business’s failures will go along the way.
The Success Story
Of course, your business doesn’t always have failures, or you wouldn’t still be in business. On the flip side of all those failures are your successes.
Those times when you provided value for your customers and helped them solve a problem.
Maybe you helped them perfect a process that increased their revenue. You want to show your steps and the results.
Success stories aren’t about bragging but finding those little successes in your day-to-day that helped your business out. You’re confident you will also help others.
Take your audience through a reenactment of your idea(s) and offer them real value behind the process. Once you do this, your credibility will strengthen, and your audience will grow because of the value you provide with each success story.
A Customer Story
How has your product or service helped your current customers?
This is your chance to show prospects you’re worth spending their money on. The only catch is that you will tell this story from the customer’s perspective.
You can detail their struggles before becoming aware of your company and let them tell how your product or service solved a pain point in their lives.
This type of story is like an extension of the testimonial and the ultimate in providing social proof.
Instead of asking your customer for a quote, sit down with them and interview your customer about your business or get a third party to do it for you. If you’ve done it correctly, you’ll get them to open up about how their struggle went away because of your business.
Then take that interview and turn it into a narrative that will move future customers closer to taking action.
Because your customers are taking your audience on a journey using your product/service, it provides a stronger foundation than just telling them about it.
Maybe you had preconceived notions about your industry or what your products or services do. Still, through years of experience, you’ve discovered something completely different.
Customers love these stories because, as much as some of us don’t like to admit it, we love surprises.
You start by all the regular things you thought about your career or industry. Something familiar that the people outside of your industry knowledge.
You then take the audience on a discovery journey while redefining your initial thoughts.
When you do this with the mindset of providing value, you reach your prospects differently, and you connect with them deeper because they see you’re the same as them – human.
So the only question is, what have you discovered about your experience that you didn’t think you would?
Everybody likes a good analogy.
These types of stories work great, especially if you are using language and terms your audience understands.
Finding relevance in a familiar and universal story about a confusing process within your business is where these types of stories work best.
It helps take something complex and explain it in a way your audience will get.
Not only do you get your point across, but you do it in a way your prospects will understand.
Finding this relevance about your business that has nothing to do with it helps you get the point across to your audience.
And teaches them about something they don’t understand.
Through the art of telling stories to help build your brand will allow you to position your business within the hearts and minds of your prospects.
Creating this connection with your audience is precisely where every entrepreneur wants to get to.
Before you know it, you’ll build the type of audience that will help you spread your marketing message.
It’s no secret that we’re overloaded with information, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In a world where everyone is yelling for our attention, the simple practices of storytelling allow you to stand above the noise.
Few businesses are telling stories that their audience can understand. Take up this practice, and you’ll be ahead of the curve, humanizing your company that connects with your target audience.