How to Humanize Your Brand Through Storytelling

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Whats Your Story Sticky Note
What is it about garages? They’re supposed to be reserved for cars and junk that you don’t know what to do with. And yet, so many famous brands were born in them. From Amazon to Apple to Lamborghini, garages were incubators for brilliant, dedicated dreamers – and they’re the basis for why people love those brands.

Think about it. Apple fans love that it started in a garage because it underscores the human element of the company: two guys toiling away, chasing a dream, too broke to work out of a proper building.

That’s a compelling story.

Too often, brands neglect the story behind their products and services to their detriment. Customers want to engage with people, not with a nebulous corporate identity. Brand storytelling can be an effective way to earn customer loyalty and drive sales. To nail it, here are a few pointers:

Show your face

Every business has its mission statement, which is important. But is “providing the best service for our customers at an affordable rate” really going to make people remember you? You need to go beyond the generic.

What inspires you? If you started the business, you probably have an interesting story to tell. What was the “a-ha” moment where you realized you absolutely had to make a go of it? What were the obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them?

If you entered into an industry not by divine inspiration but because of a more measured career choice, consider what shaped your decision. Why are you excited to work in your industry? (Hint: making tons of money is not a good answer).

Clarify your values

Many start-ups and small businesses are socially minded. This is a great place to start when forming your brand’s story. Customers want to know what you believe in. Of course, not every business is Tom’s (the shoe company that donates shoes to needy countries), but that doesn’t mean you can’t emphasize your auistic or inspired goals. Even if you’re part of what some might consider a fairly mundane B2B, you can still strike a chord with people.

Take the case of Oren International. After a brand storytelling makeover, the content on its website went from dry facts about paper converting to memorable stories about partnering with other companies to bring their visions to life. After the site re-branding, Oren saw conversion rates for its ebook skyrocket by as much as 86%.

Write it down

So you’re convinced brand storytelling is worthwhile. Before you jump into revamping your image, spend some time writing out your story. Unless you’re a solo act, consult your employees as well. Also, consider feedback that you received from your customers. What did they like about your brand? Seeing the issue from their point of view is fodder for defining what’s great about your business. Is there a thread between what you originally set out to do and what your patrons appreciate about you? This might be a good through line for the narrative.

Be authentic

It’s tempting to want to sound important when scripting your story; resist this urge. Just write it out using casual language. It might even help to pretend you’re talking to a friend rather than addressing a huge crowd of customers. However, at the end of the day, remember your audience. Millennials may appreciate excessive casual language, but Baby Boomers? Not as much. As you edit it down and refine, you’ll find the sweet spot.

You should also be transparent. This may require you to take off your marketing hat, which is a good thing. People can smell a lie or even a half-truth from a mile away. If you’re depicting the trajectory of your business, don’t gloss over the bumps in the road. Customers will appreciate the honesty.

Let your customers do the talking

Again, when it comes to brand storytelling, soliciting customer feedback is important. But it can actually serve you in more ways than one. Don’t just weave their thoughts and feelings into the story that you shape; rather, let them share their positive experiences directly. Brands like Salesforce put their customers front and center by hosting video testimonials on its Pinterest page. This can be a really effective way to convince people of your unbiased value, and convert leads into sales.

Share your story online

Once you’ve crafted your story, it’s time to share it. As your website is the face of your brand online, you want to make sure users see the real you when they visit. Transforming your Home and About pages to reflect the story are good places to start. Blogs can also contribute, and they’re easy shareable.

Sharing the story online is key. Create a social media campaign around it. Craft first-person blog posts, meaningful status updates, and interesting visuals, and disseminate them through your social accounts. Make sure you track how the links are performing as well.

Do people watch your story video and then browse your products? Make a purchase? See what forms of your story are converting and bringing you SEO power. Then you can either emphasize those, or maybe tweak the underperforming content, and improve it.

For more on how to create an awesome brand story and incorporate it into a content marketing campaign, check out SPINX’s branding services.

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