8 Traits of Effective Brand Stories

by | Dec 11, 2018


As humans, we are drawn to a good story. Perhaps its somehow written in our DNA. Ever since Nog told the story of his hunting expedition to his fellow cavemen, we have used stories to get our point across. Whether the story is presented visually, shared vocally, or written for others to read, we each respond differently. Our stories help us connect with those around us. We use the stories to build trust, relationships, and relate to what is around us. Over the years, since Nog first explained what he saw out hunting, we have continually improved the method and how we tell our stories.

If you’re looking into connecting with your customers, I encourage you to look at your brand’s story. No matter your brand, your brand has a story. By exploring eight traits of effective brand stories you’ll come to understand your brand’s story. After we go through these traits I will share a brand’s story with you that clearly embodies all of the traits.

Authentic and Honest

As you look to uncover your brand’s story, you need to be authentic and honest. Never allow your brand to embellish the truth. Trust and credibility help your customers relate to your brand on a personal level. When we trust someone or something we form a personal bond. At the beginning of a relationship trust is a key component and a cornerstone of any lasting partnership. In the beginning trust is also weak and easily broken if you’re not careful.

Highlight Problems

Brands that identify the problems that plagued their beginnings help people relate to them. Because we all have problems we identify with brands when we know the problems they overcame. In a way it helps to humanize your brand with your audience. By sharing problems, you subconsciously establish that your brand helps to overcome obstacles your audience may have.

The Underdog is Memorable

When your brand sets out to make its impact on the world, often you have a great “underdog” type of beginning. Often you hear of Apple or HP and how they started in a garage. This establishes a connection to their customers by pointing out that they were entrepreneurs at heart. They weren’t the big leader in that day—IBM. When they started, their customers knew that they were in for an uphill battle against the proverbial Goliath. They started in humble beginnings throughout their story they maintain this humble aspect allowing the customer to connect the dots of where they began compared to where they are now.

Upend an Industry

When a brand has something to say people will listen. When that brand shows that they changed or disrupted an industry, people notice. Focus on the way your brand turned your correlating industry on its head.

Inspired Sharing

Often brands try desperately to have a story that is shared. To be shared, a story has to be inspirational. When a brand has an inspirational story, they touch on an emotional connection that causes people to feel compelled to share. They share, what to them, is an inspirational story, which is actually the brand’s story.

Founders are Present

Successful brand stories have the founder front and center. The originator of the story is crucial to a brand story. The founder is the physical embodiment of the story that your brand conveys. Even if people hear or read your story and make a connection they will identify better once they can put a face to the story they are reading. Brands with multiple employees benefit tremendously when the employee(s) see the founder. They can become evangelists of the brand when they see the brand founder is still interested in the brand and as passionate as ever.

They Give

When brands share how they’re giving to the world, they show people why it is important for the brand to have reached the point they are at now. Those partaking of the story again connect with and become emotionally connected to the brand. They see the benefits that the brand is bestowing on the world, that they, in turn, want to help continue.

They Don’t Stop

A good brand story has a nice ending, it tells how the founder and those they helped have a good life now. A great brand story, however, has no ending; they continue beyond the marketing or the sale. The customer wants a brand where they know the story continues, where they can rejoin the story two months, five years, or ten years from now and still continue to help the brand story grow.

Your brand story is there—its waiting for you to tell it and waiting for you to share it. By helping your brand flesh out and perfect its story you will help your customer connect with your brand. As I mentioned before, I wanted to share a brand’s story with you. A few years ago, I attended a conference where I heard a brand’s story. I had never really noticed this brand before. This brand’s founder, Scott Harrison, presented his story—the story of Charity Water (charitywater.org). He talked about his life and how it lead to the founding of his charity. While the video is long, take the time to watch the story and see how the story arc goes from Scott’s problem to the problem he saw a need to fix. It also goes from identifying the problems charities have to how they can “reinvent and reimagine charity” or disrupt the industry. Telling your brand story is up to you, and the time to share your story is now.

Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:

  • Identify the basis of your brand’s story.
  • Discover the traits that you can work out in your brand story.
  • Know how your brand’s story can continue and work that into your story.

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