Everyone loves stories. Whether you’ve got a penchant for adventure, horror, humor or a good old-fashioned love story, the whole population is enthralled by a good story.
But storytelling isn’t just something we see in films and books. It’s also essential for businesses. Think about it. All those brands that you know and love, the ones you really connect with, they all have their own stories to tell. This is how they connect with their audience and bring their products to life.
In this article, we’re taking a look at some of the key elements to good brand storytelling, and how you can build your own compelling story to share with your audience.
What is brand storytelling?
Brand storytelling is the art of using narrative elements to communicate and convey a brand's identity, values, history, purpose, and offerings to its target audience. It goes beyond just presenting facts and features – through emotional storytelling you can focus on sharing compelling and relatable stories to engage and deeply connect with your customers. In fact, research shows that 75% of professionals think it’s important for brands to tell stories in marketing, and 55% are more likely to consider purchasing from a brand if they like their story.
By weaving together elements such as characters, plots, emotions and experiences, brands are able to create a cohesive and memorable narrative that resonates with their audience.
The rise of digital platforms, social media and the internet has revolutionized how brands reach their audiences. With a new focus on zero-click and user-generated content brands are encouraged to share stories through immersive multimedia content like videos and animations, while also empowering customers to share and create their own stories and experiences with brands and their product.
Allowing for richer and even more engaging narratives.
What defines a great brand story?
If you want to create a great brand story, there are several key elements that you need to consider in order to make it compelling, memorable and impactful. The key characteristics you’re looking for are authenticity, emotional resonance, relatability, consistency and compelling characters.
Take a look at this commercial from Shopify. They don’t just tell you what the brand does, they tell the story of how their products work in the real world - by bringing their customer’s stories to life. This is a perfect example of how brand storytelling can help you build meaningful connections with your audience.
It’s important to note that your brand story isn’t just something that affects the marketing team. Brand storytelling has a significant impact on all areas of the business, serving as a foundational element that shapes how your company is perceived, how customers interact with you and how the business operates.
The benefits of impactful brand storytelling
If we’ve not managed to convince you yet, here are some of the key benefits you can enjoy when you use brand storytelling in your marketing strategy.
1. Emotional connection
Effective brand storytelling helps to build an emotional connection between the brand and its audience. This drives a stronger bond between the two, driving decision-making and encouraging an increase in customer loyalty and advocacy.
2. Increased brand awareness
A well-told story helps brands stand out amongst their competitors, making them easier to remember, and therefore, more profitable.
3. Customer retention
Storytelling isn’t just helpful for bringing new customers through the sales funnel, it can also be pivotal in building strong relationships with clients, improving their satisfaction and making them loyal to your brand.
4. Enhanced value perception
Customers are often more likely to pay more for brands that they feel a strong connection with. The more you can engage with your audience, the more you elevate the perceived value of the products and services that you’re promoting.
5. Internal alignment
Brand stories can help inspire and align employees with the company’s values and mission, leading them to be more motivated at work and work cohesively towards a common goal.
If you craft your brand story well, it has the potential to endure over time, being instantly recognizable and memorable to your audience. This helps to build a stronger relationship with your audience and encourages them to stick with you through the years.
7. Improved Communication
A consistent brand story serves as a central reference point for communication. It streamlines internal messaging, making it easier for employees to convey the brand's identity and messaging accurately.
10 steps to building an engaging brand story
Now that you know just how beneficial a good story could be for your brand, it’s time to actually start building it. But how do you do that? Here’s our quick guide to getting started.
1. Understand your audience
The very first thing you’ll need to do is identify your target audience and understand exactly what their needs, wants, preferences and values are. This is a vital step to ensuring the messaging and story you use are not only appropriate for them, but that they will relate to and resonate with it. Research their demographics, behaviors and pain points and tailor your story to suit this.
2. Define your brand’s identity
If you’ve not done it already, now is a great time to clearly define your brand’s missions, values and unique selling points. What makes you different from everyone else in the market? Why should people come to you? Determine what it is that sets you apart and how you want to be perceived by your customers.
3. Craft a core message
Once you’ve got your identity in the bag, it’s time to start thinking of the actual message of your story. This will be the foundation of your brand story and guide all storytelling efforts, so it’s worth putting a fair amount of research into this. It may be a good idea to hold focus groups or interviews with sections of your audience to see what kind of messages resonate with them the most.
4. Create a narrative arc
Your narrative will need to have a clear structure that includes elements such as exposition, conflict, climax and resolution. You want to take the audience on a journey, no matter how long or short your story is.
5. Identify the key characters
Introduce relatable and engaging characters that embody your brand’s values and connect with your customers. You’ll need a hero to your story, someone who goes through some sort of transformation. Someone for your audience to root for!
6. Incorporate visual and verbal elements
Video is an excellent way to engage with your audience, bringing together visual elements to complement the brand story and build on your brand voice. It’ll help take your audience on a journey with you by bringing your story to life with characters and narratives that play out the story in a most authentic and relatable way. Accompanied by a range of multimedia effects like sounds, visuals and text - you can make sure your audience stays engaged.
7. Show transformation and growth
There is nothing people like more than a happy ending. Your brand story is a great opportunity to show how people can benefit from using your product and being part of your brand, using it to overcome challenges and have a positive impact on the world around them.
8. Add a call to action
As much as this is all about storytelling, there’s no point in doing all this work if your audience doesn't know what to do with your message. Lead them clearly to an action, whether that’s visiting your website, signing up to your mailing list or purchasing your product.
9. Test and refine
Share your brand story with a small test audience initially to gather feedback and make any necessary changes before going live. This will help you bring your point home by learning what works, and what doesn’t in the market.
Remember that your brand story isn’t static - it should evolve with your brand’s growth and changing market dynamics. Take time to review your story each year to ensure it’s still relevant for your audience.
5 reasons why video is the most impactful storytelling format
As mentioned above, video is one of the best ways to get your story across to your audience, with its ability to engage multiple senses and deliver a rich, immersive experience for your audience. In fact, research has found that 91% of businesses use video marketing in 2023 to help engage their audience. Here are a few more reasons why video is the most effective storytelling format.
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1. Complex narratives
Video allows for more complex narratives to be presented to the audience, including multiple characters, settings and plot developments. It can convey a story’s depth and nuances far more effectively than other formats.
3. Visual appeal
Humans are naturally drawn to visuals, so videos are a great opportunity to showcase your story. You can use stunning visuals, graphics, animations and special effects to enhance the storytelling experience and bring it to life.
4. Human connection
In general, people respond better to human stories that they can relate to. When they see real people, whether they're customers, employees or brand representatives, it creates a sense of authenticity, giving the story that human touch they’re looking for. In fact, Headstream found that if people love a brand’s story, 55% are more likely to buy the product in future, 44% will share the story and 15% will buy the product immediately. That’s pretty good odds, right?
Video can be adapted for various different platforms, from social media to websites and presentations. It can be easily shared, embedded and repurposed depending on the audience and their needs.
6. Global reach
With the rise of online platforms, streaming services and zero-click content, video has the potential to reach a global audience, breaking down geographical barriers and expanding the reach of your brand story. Research has found that 82% of global internet traffic came from video - and this can be achieved online in seconds! Making it the fastest channel for achieving global engagement.
💡 Not sure where to get started with making videos?
Video is the best format for speaking to your audience and getting your brand story across, but it can be an overwhelming task understanding where to start - especially for those with no video marketing experience!
But fear not! The team at PlayPlay have pulled together a beginner’s guide to creating personalized video content - check it out in the link below.
5 examples of brands that take storytelling to another level
Still not sure where to get started? Take a look at some of these awesome examples of brand storytelling done right.
1. Starbucks - A Little Kindness
This feel-good video is all about pointing out all the small acts of kindness that happen each day, showing us that the world perhaps isn’t as bad as we thought. While there’s no direct mention of coffee, each little moment is witnessed through the window of a Starbucks store, bringing that sense of community to the story and making us feel part of something bigger.
Grammarly - The Term Paper
Grammarly have zeroed in on one particular audience in this piece - students struggling to complete their term paper on time. The ‘hero’ of this story is a panicked student rushing to get her work finished, showing how their tool can pop up at just the right time to help out.
Etsy - To the Travelers
This campaign brings us a little bit of Christmas magic, combined with a collection of stories designed to tug at our heartstrings. Focusing on the power of giving meaningful gifts at Christmas and how it can bring family and friends together, this video is not just wholesome, it reminds us all of what’s really important at that time of year.
Square - Changing the Status Quo
This video takes more of a documentary stance, interviewing Gerry, a pharmacy owner who has experienced a number of difficulties in his business since the pandemic. We find ourselves rooting for Gerry, we want his business to succeed, we want everything to work out ok. Square introduced the benefits of their payment solution through the story of a real person, showing how he’s benefitted and how it has helped not just him, but the community around him. A great example of using your customer’s stories to tell yours.
Lemonade Inc. - Explainer Video
We love an animated video! This one in particular is great because it highlights the problem that audiences have right from the start - no one likes their insurance company. So what makes this one different? Well, we have to watch it to find out. But their clever, cute and funny animations make us actually want to. This is the ideal way to take your audience on a journey without the need to use real people.
Bring your story to life with videos made on PlayPlay
Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about brand storytelling and the impact it can have on your business, it’s time to start building your own.
PlayPlay’s software allows you to make professional videos for all your communication needs in just a matter of minutes, with no editing experience needed! Sign up for your free 7-day trial today and start bringing your story to life today.