Storytelling in Branding: Share Your Businesses Story

What happened to the good old days when you could put on a suit, rent an office, and start a company without anyone asking annoying questions about how ethical your supply chain is or your carbon footprint or your corporate social responsibility program? 

Thankfully (for the planet, and most of the people on it), those days are over, and brands have to work a lot harder to win customers and stay relevant. Storytelling in branding is a powerful way to show how a business is thinking wider than just making a ‘big buck’, and to compete with the others you’re going to need to really consider this quite carefully. 

This is why storytelling in branding is now indispensable, and can be attributed to several things: 

  • Extremely oversaturated markets. With social media, digital marketing and crowdfunding available to everyone and their side hustle, brands need a unique talking point more than ever in order to stand out in the crowd.
  • Automation. Everything seems a little cold and futuristic now, doesn’t it? We do everything online and through apps, from chatting to reading to shopping. The convenience is great, but we miss human connection. A good brand story goes a way to filling that hole in our hearts.
  • Conscientiousness. Not only do we have a limited time to change our ways and save the planet, we’re also horribly aware of it. Eco-anxiety infiltrates many of our daily purchasing decisions. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are highly politically and socially aware, and much more selective in the companies we trust and buy from.
  • Declining materialism. Myriad studies have shown that younger generations prefer experiences over things. A brand story fuels the more human, emotive, experiential aspects of a brand, which bring customers on a ‘journey’ assisted with their products or services as opposed to scanning the item at the checkout and never hearing or thinking about them again. 

All this and more is why a modern brand needs to be more like a person than a thing. And every person has a story. But what exactly do we mean by ‘storytelling in branding’?

storytelling in branding book

What’s storytelling in branding?

Brand storytelling is: the tale of who you are, how you came to be, what you stand for, and what you did to get there. It will feature in your ‘About Us’ website section, in your speeches at conferences and events, and across all your advertising, social media, and marketing communications. At the beginning, it will be much more about your personal history. As your brand matures, your story will be enriched by your company culture, new staff and leadership, progress and achievements, changes, and major events throughout your timeline.

Your brand story is not: a fairytale. The thing about your brand story is that it has to be true. People want to hear about the real environment your passion was born into, the real struggles, the real beliefs that guided you. This humanises you and your company in the eyes of your buyers. If your story is ‘I saw a gap in the market’ or ‘I wanted to make money’, you’re not going to curry much favour. You could try and make up something a little more wholesome, but consumers can smell insincerity a mile off, and getting caught out in a lie is a PR disaster few recover from (one of the rare examples being Hollister, whose brand story is 100% fabricated).

storytelling in branding house

Instead, when establishing your brand story, look at your personal values, your company practices, and your collective mission, and own it. Customers whose values align with yours won’t just buy your product once, but for life.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”

How does storytelling in branding attract customers to your business?

To understand the psychology behind the brand story, let’s refer briefly back to a concept we introduced in a previous article – utilitarian vs hedonic purchasing. A utilitarian purchase is something like a hoover or a washing machine that we don’t put a lot of emotional stock in. We buy them based on value and performance. A hedonic purchase is a little more complex. Cars, clothes, phones, TVs, and headphones are often purchased ‘hedonically’

These purchases are symbolic to us, and we base our identities around them. There may be some utilitarian considerations like performance, but in a sales environment, our hedonic brains are driving. At a Range Rover showroom, a 40-year-old Dad of two is thinking less about the transmission reliability of his new Discovery Sport, and more about how cool he’ll look in it pulling up to the school gates.

To continue our Discovery-driving Dad analogy – let’s call him Clive – Clive doesn’t have to think too much about his new car’s transmission reliability. Why? Because he has been told a story. Over the years, Range Rover has been perpetuating and reinforcing the brand story of its heritage, its quality, its luxury, and its superior British engineering. This is why a Range Rover customer is more likely to buy a Range Rover online – no questions asked – than to go down to a dealership and grill the salesperson.

storytelling in branding car

This is the marker of a luxury brand. Can you imagine someone asking a Tag Heuer dealer if their watches are any good? The carefully tailored brand story, beginning in mid-19th century Switzerland and upheld through intelligent marketing and unbending brand guidelines, answers the question for you (and it’s gorgeously presented here if you want some inspiration).  

Done well, a brand story can become its legacy. 

Key takeaways to implement more storytelling in branding

1. Start with the ‘why’

If you’re struggling to crystallize your story, return to the reasons you started in the first place. What happened in your life that set you on this course? How have you implemented those values into the company? Across your staff? Did anyone else bring in new values that enriched the company vision?

2. Remember who the hero is

I.e. not you! The hero is your customer. You haven’t saved the world by creating the first ever biodegradable toilet brush – your customer has by buying it. 

3. Your story doesn’t always have to be based on “positive” values

It’s more important to be authentic. You can be no-nonsense, snooty, or crude if it suits your brand. You can be ruthless or aggressive, as long as you own it (note: this may work better for legal practices than petting zoo owners).

4. Your story will most materially feature in the ‘About Us’ section of your website

But it should be present across all branding elements. If your story involves a passion for conservation, you should be sending out excessive paper mailouts. If one of your values is inclusivity, this should be visible across your social channels. A sustainability ethos should be present in your blog posts.

storytelling in branding letter

Or is it just the beginning?

Benjamin Angus
Benjamin Angus
Hi! I'm co-founder of gotiggo.com. I used to work in a job that I liked, but still looked forward to 'clocking out' every day. When it dawned upon me that that wasn't how I wanted to spend most of my life, me and a friend started this website to help out everyone else in the same boat.
Benjamin Angus
Benjamin Angus
Hi! I'm co-founder of gotiggo.com. I used to work in a job that I liked, but still looked forward to 'clocking out' every day. When it dawned upon me that that wasn't how I wanted to spend most of my life, me and a friend started this website to help out everyone else in the same boat.

Leave a Reply

You might also like

What makes a great logo? card image

What Makes a Great Logo?

A truly great logo is one that is synonymous with its brand. If you hear “the golden arches”, what springs to mind? Crispy fries. That’s what.

Read More »