May 2021

The Comprehensive Guide to Brand Storytelling

Learn how to write and show off a “best selling” brand story from a leading brand marketing agency

Customers don’t just care about what they’re buying. They also care about who they’re buying from. They want to buy from brands that are easy to work with, who care about the same things they do, and whose solutions are tailor-made to solve their problems. That’s why it’s so important to have a brand story that resonates with your customers–and also why it’s important to be able to communicate that story once you have it.

Here at Responsival, a top Pittsburgh-based brand marketing agency, we have a lot of practice working with our clients to discover and communicate the types of brand stories that attract business and drive sales. Want your brand story to become a “best seller?” In the rest of this article, we’ll show you how to make that happen.


What is a Brand Story, Anyway?

When It Comes to Your Brand, Marketing Agencies Suggest that Customers Want to Know Your Story 

man smiling while looking at his tablet
How do your customers feel when encountering your brand?

Simply put, your brand story covers everything about what your brand means, on both a factual and emotional level. There’s a whole cast of characters that give this story its flavor: from your products, prices, and customer experience to your history, values, and reputation. Ultimately, all these things work together to create the feelings and facts that surround your brand. Does the experience customers have with your website make your brand feel accessible? Does your founder’s small-town roots make your brand feel like part of the family? 

There are innumerable reasons why having a defined and coherent brand story is a good idea for your business. Two big advantages are that it: 

  • Sets you apart: People make most of their purchasing decisions based on their feelings rather than on their reason. That means how your brand feels to your customers can be the thing that makes them choose you over your competitors. For example, both your diner and the one down the street might make some solid pancakes. But the fact that yours come in fun shapes and with toys is why kids are always begging their parents to come to you. Both pancakes are tasty. But yours are tasty and fun. 
  • Keeps you consistent: Another great perk that comes with knowing your brand story is that it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you know you want your customers to feel like you’re trustworthy, the more likely they are to trust you. Why? Because you’ll actually be trustworthy, having crafted your offerings and their experience to be consistent with that ideal.  

Remember, you aren’t the only one writing your story. The voices of your followers, customers, and employees are all part of creating the reputation that defines your story. You want to make sure their experiences with your brand–your product design, website experience, newsletter updates, etc.–match the story you want to tell.

If you’re not sure what your story is yet, you might be wondering how exactly you can figure that out. And you’re in luck. We wouldn’t be Pittsburgh’s top brand marketing agency if we didn’t have the answer for you.

Creating Your Brand Story 

Brand Marketing Agency Shares How to Discover What Makes Your Brand Tick 

people sitting around a table writing in notebooks and on laptops
Have a conversation with the rest of your organization to help articulate your story

The best brand stories focus on things that both you and your customers are excited about. When your brand is built around something you love, it’s easy to be authentic and intentional about your offering. And when customers love your story too, that offering is an easy sell. With that in mind, here is our brand marketing agency’s formula for creating a best-selling brand story:  

Step 1. Know yourself 

It’s time for some organizational soul searching. If you want to write the best brand story possible, you have to really know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Get your organization together and figure out your answers to a couple questions: 

  • How did your business get started? 
  • What’s the core problem you’re trying to solve? 
  • Why are you trying to solve that problem?

These big questions, and all the ones in between, are going to be key to figuring out what makes your business unique. Maybe you’re the first people trying to solve this problem. Or maybe you offer the best solution to a common problem. (Pro-tip: it can help to formalize your conclusions by writing a vision statement).You want to come out of this with some clear, articulable insights into who you are as a company. 

Step 2. Know your audience 

Maybe after step 1, you’ve realized that your business is passionate about offering vegetarian alternatives to traditional meat products. But if that vision doesn’t resonate with your carnivorous customers, it’s going to make a poor brand story. Just as important as knowing what makes you tick is knowing what it is that your customers value. 

Let’s say that after doing some customer analysis, you realize that your audience just doesn't care very much about vegetarian cooking. Now it’s time to do some more thinking. Should you be targeting a different customer type? Or is there something else about your offering that might excite your current customers?

Step 3. Add It All Up

After step 2, you might have gained the insight that while your customers don’t particularly care about eating vegetarian, they’re really driven by sustainability, an area where vegetarian cooking shines. Once you’ve identified the overlap between what you bring to the table and what your customers want to eat, you’ve found your brand story: You’re not the vegetarian guys, you’re the sustainability guys. 

But, as any brand marketing agency knows, the work’s not done once you know the brand story. Once you know what you’re about, you need everyone else to know it too. Now that the background work is done, it’s time for the fun part: telling your brand story in as many ways as possible. 


Showing Off Your Brand Story 

Building Your Digital Presence Around Your Core Message  

Tell your brand story with your online presence
Tell your brand story with your online presence

Every encounter someone has with your brand is a part of how you tell your brand story. That’s why  it’s important to make sure everything they’re seeing is consistent with the story you want to tell.Let your brand story guide your marketing efforts. A fun strategy to use is to establish a persona for your brand story. Before you put a message out there, consider if it’s “in character.” 

There are a number of ways our brand marketing agency leverages this WWMBD (What Would My Brand Do) attitude, but for now we’re going to take a deep dive into how to tell your brand story with your website and social media presence. 

Website 

There are so many elements of your website that send messages to your customers about who you are and what you’re about:

  • About Section: This is where you explicitly tell your customers who you are and what you stand for. Make sure you explain your brand story as concisely and understandably as possible. You want it to frame the rest of their experience with you. 


  • Tone of Voice: What language are you using to communicate your message? Things like word choice, sentence structure, and tone can really say a lot about what kind of business you are. 
  • Web Design:  It’s difficult for customers to perceive you as light and fun when they’re staring at a black and white website full of professional headshots. How your website is designed is an important part of creating an experience with your brand–even without using words. How do your customers move through your site? What visuals are they coming across? How easy is it to scroll? What colors are they seeing?
  • Testimonials: Remember, you aren’t the only author of your brand story. Use your website to let your reputation speak for itself. 
  • Blog: The topics you choose to write about in a company blog speak volumes about what you value as a business. To return to the example from the previous section, if you profess to be driven by sustainability but exclusively use your blog to talk about the meat industry’s mistreatment  it’s difficult to take your brand story seriously. 

There are lots of ways you can tell your story through your website. Some of them are explicit (like the vision statement in the About Section and the customer testimonials). And some of them are much more subtle (like your tone of voice and your color palette). Understanding how all these elements work together is crucial to showcasing your brand story on your website. 

Social media 

Each social media platform, from Facebook to Pinterest, offers a host of storytelling opportunities. For this brand marketing agency, there’s nothing more fun than launching a fun social media campaign or interacting with customers on behalf of a brand. These can be powerful tools when it comes to creating a feeling around your brand. 

When launching a social media campaign, it’s important to make sure it aligns with your mission and values. An authentically “you” campaign really makes a difference. Take REI’s #optoutside campaign. Every Black Friday, the outdoor recreation store closes their doors and asks customers and employees to instead #optoutside. This clever campaign gives both them and their customers the opportunity to celebrate their shared love of the great outdoors.

Optoutside

Social media is also a great space to really lean into your brand voice. Old Spice does a fantastic job of this with their Twitter account. They use a silly, hyper-masculine voice that conveys their brand identity in a way that still doesn’t get in the way of effectively showcasing their products. Scrolling through their Twitter, customers get the sense they’re buying a solid, established product from a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. 


Old Spice
Old spice


Old spice



Social media is also the perfect place for behind-the-scenes storytelling. A really great way of showcasing your brand’s character is by showing the small details of who you are. So leverage the power of social media to spotlight what life is like for your employees or showcase where and how your products are being used by real customers. Take this example from Sprout Social

Sprout Social

This behind the scenes team spotlight really animates the character of the brand, giving its commitments and values tangible representation. (Pro-tip: Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat stories are great tools for humanizing behind the scenes content like this). 


In the end, all these brands have very different stories. But what they all have in common is that they have a clear picture of what those stories are, and of how to tell them. And if you want to join these brand-storytelling superstars, contact us here at Responsival, a leading brand marketing agency. We’ll help you get started.

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