The business landscape has never been more saturated. In order to cut through the noise, your brand must clearly and consistently share its story with the people who need to hear it.
However, there is a misconception that a company’s story will only take shape as it grows. While the growth process is part of the story, the milestones you hit as time goes by may not be the best foundation for your brand storytelling.
Instead, go back to the very beginning: Why did you start your company? Why did you choose your industry? What motivated you to start your business and persevere when things got tough? These questions delve into the core of your story, making up your brand story framework. This is where your marketing should begin.
What Is Brand Storytelling?
As the name suggests, brand storytelling is about telling your brand story. But it’s not just about telling your story brand or the events that lead to your company’s creation.
Brand storytelling uses a narrative to share your company’s values and beliefs. The story humanizes your company and shows audiences that the people behind the brand also share their values and beliefs. In telling your brand story, you enable audiences to connect with you on a level that nurtures a mutual sense of trust and true partnership in the long term.
What is brand storytelling going to do for your business? Creating a brand story offers many benefits:
1. It helps define your brand identity.
2. It shows your brand’s authenticity and personality.
3. It promotes brand empathy and makes your company “human.”
4. It helps you stand out by giving your company a defining characteristic.
5. It helps you attract the right people (those who share your values and are more likely to buy your products because of it).
6. It gives you a solid foundation for your future marketing efforts.
7. It helps establish the legitimacy of your business; that you’re not a two-year venture but a company with a vision for longevity.
A famous quote by Maya Angelou beautifully sums up the importance of creating a brand story: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
A product that is not the best of its kind can still become in demand if customers think there’s great value in buying them. That’s because if you tell a compelling and moving story, you can create value in the act of buying your products.
Shoe company TOMS is an excellent brand story example that shows the power of brand advocacy and storytelling. Fans of the brand do not buy their shoes for durability, style or comfort. The truth is that many buy TOMS shoes because it’s a cool way to donate to charity.
TOMS pioneered the one-for-one business model. From 2006 to 2021, the company donated one pair of shoes to less fortunate children for each pair of TOMS shoes sold. Although the company changed its charity model and is now pledging $1 for every $3 profit to grassroots organizations instead, its brand story framework is still clear: It is committed to helping improve lives.
If given a choice between two brands that offer the same products of relatively similar quality, people will choose the brand that offers even just a little more value. Your story brand can be the deciding factor. Show that you are the more valuable choice by creating a brand story and sharing it with the world.
How To Write a Brand Story
Telling your brand story requires going back to your roots. Many businesses don’t focus on brand storytelling initially, and that’s understandable – any effort that doesn’t lead to sales and revenue generation outright tends to be thrown on the burner. But if you want a memorable brand identity that inspires long-lasting respect, trust and loyalty, you need to find and tell your story brand.
So how do you tell your story? The first step is to find a brand narrative framework to foster brand empathy and gain customer support.
Below are examples of tried and tested story frameworks you can use to write your brand narrative. We’ll also give brand storytelling examples for each brand narrative framework for context.
The Basics of Brand Storytelling
If you’re figuring out how to write a brand story, there are six aspects at play:
• The reason your business exists (your purpose and why doing what you do is so important to you)
• Your history
• Your mission
• The people, things or events that helped shape your business
• The failures you went through
• The “slow” periods that became turning points for your business
These details bring out the human side of a business. They reveal the motivations of the company’s creators, what pushes them to grow their business and the values their company upholds.
What is brand storytelling going to achieve for your company? People who share your values and are inspired by your motivations – say, philanthropic like TOMS or idealistic like Tesla – will consider your brand as a partner, the perfect foundation for customer loyalty.
This brings us to our first storytelling framework.
The Golden Circle
Telling the story of why you do what you do is the principle of The Golden Circle. Made famous by Simon Sinek, this storytelling framework explains the “Why” before moving on to the “How” and finally, the “What.”
• Why: Share the core values of your company.
• How: Reveal how you are helping your audience.
• What: Introduce your product.
Apple is one of the best brand storytelling examples for The Golden Circle. The company’s message doesn’t focus on the fantastic features of their smartphones or computers. Instead, it highlights its desire to innovate and “challenge the status quo” by creating products that are beautiful, easy to use and designed to enrich people’s lives.
Its official Instagram account shows as much: There are no product pictures of iPhones or Macs, nor do they post explicitly promotional posts. Instead, they share ultra-high-quality images of people and moments, showing how their products can become part of people’s daily lives.
Apple rallies people to join their cause, which explains the perception of prestige and status that comes with owning Apple products. Of course, many people today would say they buy Apple products because of their cutting-edge technology. Still, the company gained loyal customers and became successful for its vision first and foremost.
Ideally, your target audience should find your brand story relatable, compelling and inspiring. If audiences can connect to your business in this manner, it becomes easier to earn their trust and make them your long-time customers.
Freytag’s Pyramid (traditional storytelling in five acts)
Also known as the Freytag’s Triangle, this storytelling method applies the traditional storytelling arc used in novels, movies and stage plays. It consists of five stages:
1. Exposition: Introduces the characters and background story.
2. Rising Action: Introduces the conflict and series of events that lead to the peak.
3. Climax: The most exciting part of the story and the characters’ turning point.
4. Falling Action: Reveals the aftermath or result of the climax.
5. Dénouement: The ending, which can be a resolution, revelation or tragedy.
The Freytag’s Pyramid is ideal for companies with long histories or whose founders experienced incredible journeys of self-discovery and are now driven with a new sense of purpose. For example, the story of how TOMS’ founder Blake Mycoskie journeyed to Argentina and witnessed the hardships of Argentine children who grew up without shoes fits this narrative style.
We recommend learning how to write a brand story using the Freytag Pyramid if you represent a non-profit organization or work on philanthropic campaigns. This narrative style is excellent at appealing to people’s emotions while educating them on the reasons behind your cause.
The Three-Act Structure
1. Setup: Introduce the character and situation.
2. Confrontation: Reveal the problem or pain point.
3. Resolution: Show a solution to the pain point, which is your product or service.
Whereas the Freytag Pyramid is best used in long, content-heavy campaigns, the Three-Act Structure is easier to apply to just one landing page, email newsletter or social media post. You can make a more significant impression on visitors by highlighting a pain point and showing how your business solves it.
If writing a Three-Act Structure campaign with a character limit becomes too challenging, you can seek a quality content writing service, like what we offer here at Thrive. Expert content marketing writers can condense your marketing message into a brief, three-act story that will captivate your target audience.
If you need a good brand story example for this narrative style, check out Trello on Facebook. Many of its posts follow the Three-Act Structure and positions its collaboration platform as the answer to numerous problems that plague corporate offices.
The StoryBrand Formula
The StoryBrand framework has a different storytelling approach from the previous two. Instead of treating consumers as an audience, StoryBrand takes them through a hero’s journey in which the narrative focuses on them and not your products or brand.
Author Donald Miller first introduced this brand story framework in 2017 in his book, “Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.” StoryBrand designate:
• The consumer as the main character
• Their problem as the villain
• Your business as the helpful guide
Your role as the guide is to show the hero a clear plan to solve their pressing problem. A distinctive quality of the StoryBrand framework is it explicitly shows the positive outcome character can enjoy if they follow the guide’s advice – your advice. Similarly, the StoryBrand method states the consequences if they don’t.
This brand narrative has seven steps:
Step 1: The story starts with a character (the customer).
Step 2: The character has a problem they want to solve.
Step 3: The character meets a guide (your company).
Step 4: The guide offers a plan to solve the problem.
Step 5: The guide tells the character what they can do.
Step 6: If the character follows the guide, they can solve their problem.
Step 7: If the character doesn’t follow the guide, they might face an even bigger problem.
Building a StoryBrand requires you to let go of your “brand ego” and make the audience the main character in the narrative. It works on the premise that consumers care little about your company and much about themselves. So instead of waxing poetic about a brand’s milestones, the StoryBrand framework answers the audience’s most important question: “What’s in it for me?”
A good StoryBrand example, therefore, talks about:
• Benefits, not features
• Human needs
• Your value proposition
When building a StoryBrand, you need to articulate what audiences want in relation to your business and then position your brand as the guide who will help them avoid failure. Another reason this brand narrative is so effective is it encourages the character to do something to avoid a specific bad outcome. Don’t want to fall asleep on your desk and get in trouble with your boss? Take this energy drink. Don’t want to disappoint your in-laws with poor cooking skills? Cook a dish using this meal kit. Again, positioning your business as a helpful guide is key. A good StoryBrand example for this is the life coaching company Motivated Mornings.
Level-Up Your Marketing With Brand Storytelling
Building a StoryBrand, writing your About Us page following The Golden Circle principle, producing marketing content that follows the Freytag or Three-Arc Structure – any of these can reinvigorate your marketing efforts. When there are already many of you offering similar products or services, the brand that has a compelling story will be the one to captivate people. This, in a nutshell, is why brand storytelling is essential today.
If this will be your first time using brand storytelling in your marketing, this new approach might be challenging.
Thrive can help identify a story from your history that is worth telling. We have online marketing experts and writers who can polish your storytelling to flow smoothly and get the desired reaction from your audience. With our help, you can be the next brand story example other businesses look to for inspiration.
Choose Thrive’s quality content writing service to nurture a meaningful, mutually beneficial bond with your audience. It will be our mission to communicate your purpose and demonstrate your expertise. The top-level content we produce will positively impact your bottom line. Contact Thrive today and ask for a free proposal.