How to build a compelling brand story

Discover key elements, examples, and tools to create a story that connects with your audience.

Nothing captures your consumers’ attention like a good story. Brands strive to achieve a level of storytelling that creates an emotional connection with consumers, making them remember the message, the product or service, and your business. A good brand story leads to building brand loyalty, trust, and familiarity, but it isn’t easy. And in today’s crowded marketplace, brands have to work harder than ever before to create a brand story that resonates. So, what makes a good brand story? Let’s review the key elements, examples, and tools that will help you build a brand story and  brand identity that connects with your audience. 

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What is a brand story?

A brand story is a narrative about your product or service's basic facts and features. The story about your business is like supplemental packaging that distinguishes your company from competitors. For instance, fine jewelry companies sell the same thing. Cartier,  Tiffany & Co., and Bvlgari for example have brand stories that convey their inception, core values, and ideals. These businesses do this by displaying a brand story on their website accompanied by a blog to keep consumers up to date with their mission. Tiffany & Co. highlights sustainability, Blvgari focuses on lifestyle and events, while Cartier features heritage and philanthropy. In this way, these businesses show instead of telling you who they are and what’s important to them. 

Why do you need one? 

A brand story connects your mission statement to your brand identity and marketing efforts, so consumers connect with it. Every business has a story to tell. Explaining to consumers how and why you founded a company reflects a narrative of empathy.  Sharing your business's dream, inspirations, challenges, and victories can resonate with consumers. Good stories are more memorable and have the ability to increase brand awareness. 

  • Increasing brand recognition / awareness - Brand stories help customers better connect with your business. Increasing brand recognition can be done using an emotional impact like humor that can appeal to nostalgia. Your story can also focus on quality, challenge the status quo, or target new audiences. 
  • Improve perceptions and brand salience - Brand salience helps consumers decide which product to purchase. It’s the result of having a strong brand image. A compelling brand story can resonate with consumers and influence them to think of your brand when it’s time to make a purchase. 
  • Helps foster trust and familiarity with potential customers - Conveying an authentic backstory helps establish trust and credibility. It can help you bridge a relationship between your brand and the consumer because people are more likely to choose a brand they can trust and identify with in some way. 
  • Helps grow audience, increase sales - Consumers will likely remember the brand or business name behind a compelling brand story. This kind of memorable impact can also increase audience and brand awareness. An increase in awareness also increases the potential for consumers to become customers. 
  • Builds loyalty - You’ll likely increase customer retention, attract new customers, and have more brand promoters from people who believe and support your brand. Loyalty can have a positive and lasting impact on the work culture too. 

A brand story helps create an emotional connection between your business or product and the consumer. If people can see the people or person behind the business or product, they’ll be able to empathize and trust your brand. Once people trust your brand, they are more likely to buy your product or service. Learn how to increase brand awareness with your brand story. 

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What defines a good brand story?

A good brand story will have an authentic origin story and something people can empathize with. For example, the origin of Facebook was so compelling that Hollywood made a movie about it called The Social Network. A compelling brand story doesn't have to turn into a movie to be good. It just needs to be relevant and creative enough to resonate with consumers. 

An authentic brand story shows your humanity. It will have some emotional connection that highlights how the product or service can improve your lifestyle. 

Creates an emotional connection 

Creating an emotional connection with consumers means incorporating your beliefs and core values into a brand story. Tiffany & Co. published a downloadable pamphlet on their website about their sustainable goals regarding product traceability, emission, and cultivating inclusive work environments. Such an initiative can increase brand salience. People with the same passion for sustainability and inclusivity might align themselves with this company if ever the time comes to purchase fine jewelry.

Shows the human side 

Putting a face or personality behind a product or service can positively impact your business. Some companies get creative. McDonalds used to advertise Ronald McDonald as a personality behind their brand to sell Happy Meals to children. Another way to show the human side of a business is to highlight the owners, customers, or employees. 

Remains authentic

Authenticity is key to brand storytelling and gaining the trust of consumers. Be genuine. Tell the truth, and make sure you’re willing to stand behind your story. Consumers respect brands that are honest with their message. It means they can trust the product or service being sold. An authentic brand story includes a message that reminds consumers of the company’s core values. Once you have your brand story, you must be consistent. For instance, some of Cartier’s advertising and marketing efforts include Cartier’s Women’s Initiative and Musical Commitment to reflect their brand story of heritage and philanthropy.  

Highlights the benefits of your product or service

The purpose of a compelling brand story is to promote brand identity and brand recognition. The story about your company needs to connect your product or service to the consumer’s need to solve a problem. A useful brand story can alert a consumer of a problem your business can solve. Lysol used the Coronavirus outbreak to promote its mission of promoting “healthy habits” and to “clean and protect.” In this case, Lysol’s highlighted their product with helpful ways to keep homes and schools clean from harmful bacteria and viruses. 

How to build a compelling brand story

The first step to building a brand story is to understand your target audience in order to build a compelling narrative and clear message. Building a good brand story has the potential to improve your business and increase profits. Increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty can result in building brand power

TIP: Build a brand story by learning how to communicate with your audience through targeted market research. 

Define your message

Think about what you want your audience to walk away with after they’ve learned about your brand story. Establish this by asking yourself what message you want to convey? An easy way to answer this is by defining your product or service and how it works. Next, the message should get personal where you introduce yourself into the story. Talk about what made you start selling this product or service and why you continue to stick with it. Be sure to keep your story clear and concise. 

Understand your target audience

The personal aspect of a brand story is making it compelling enough that most consumers will want connect with it. That’s why it’s important to know your audience, so the narrative is relatable. The best way to know your audience is to submit questionnaires. Your surveys can be submitted through email, social media, or website. Questionnaires involving industry-related products and services are also helpful. Such information can help you get a better understanding of your target market’s buying habits and preferences.   

Make sure your brand story is compelling by testing it out on a small population representing your target audience. Here is where you can find out what variations of your brand story resonate with an audience more. Using Momentive AI-powered solutions can help you craft the best possible brand story for your buying audience. Get feedback on a sample population today.

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Build your narrative

Building the narrative to a brand story involves integrating your message as an entrepreneur. The message must be easy to understand to be memorable. Your story should also involve elements of emotion like humor, surprise, or anticipation to create empathy for your audience. It’s also important to include context to your brand story. There needs to be a reason why your audience should hear it. What lesson will they learn from your brand story that will make their life better?

Highlight the conflict 

Start with a personal problem that needs solving. Let the audience know how you resolved the problem and why it was a great business idea. Then, describe how and why your problem is your target audience’s issue. 

Don’t forget the status quo and resolution

Establishing a status quo is a fundamental part of the storytelling process, and it usually involves highlighting a problem everyone can relate to. Once you bring that conflict into a story, the next step is to provide the audience with a resolution. For a brand story, the resolution will be your product or service.  

Compose your story

Once you’ve built your narrative, it’s time to compose your brand story on every media outlet you believe your target audience will watch. YouTube is a popular video outlet that companies use as their media channel. You can compose commercials about your brand story. Even if your target audience doesn’t watch YouTube, the platform has features that allow you to place your YouTube video on a website and other social media platforms. For social media channels the brand story should be concise. Websites of companies like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai allow a more detailed version of a brand story. You can find such stories under “About Us” or “Our Company.” In the case of these fine jewelry examples, they’re simply labeled as “Stories.”

Brand story examples

Here are some brand story examples that provide different ways to tell your own brand story:

GoPro

Nick Woodman was looking for a way to film himself and his friends while surfing. He needed a waterproof camera that could clearly capture fast-paced movement. His problem was that he couldn’t find the right type of photography equipment that met his needs. When he couldn’t find one, he created GoPro in 2002, a business that sells high-definition waterproof cameras with pro-stabilization. Now the brand is used for other extreme sports like mountain biking, snowboarding, off-road driving, and more. Their narrative on their website is less than 100 words, but it’s accompanied by a high-energy YouTube video highlighting the benefits of their product. 

AirBnB

In 2007, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia shared their home with strangers and decided to make a business of it. They called it AirBed & Breakfast. The following year, they launched their official website and got two bookings. The partner’s business model offers people the opportunity to rent rooms in their homes using their online platform. In 2008, well-attended events in San Francisco earned the company 80 bookings. That same year, they launched their Payments app to make it easier for guests to book rooms in the United States from anywhere in the world. The following year, they officially changed their business name to AirBnB. Then they launched another app with an instant booking feature and expanded their headquarters in Germany. Since then, AirBnB has remained consistent with its brand by aiding in relief efforts for people displaced from their homes due to natural disasters and public health crises. The company also supports inclusivity and have partnered with the International Olympic Committee to expand their brand. You can find AirBnB’s story on their website outlined in an easy-to-read storyboard carousel.  

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola uses a different approach with its brand story. Instead of spending time on how the company started and evolved like AirBnB or why they launched a business like GoPro, Coca-Cola clearly and concisely informs consumers who founded the company and then goes in-depth with their purpose and vision. Their purpose is: “To refresh the world. Make a difference.” Coca-Cola’s vision highlights its values about humanity and the environment by outlining its efforts toward equal opportunity and sustainable product packaging. Its mission is to: craft the brands of choice drinks that people love” and “to refresh them in body and spirit” in ways that “create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities and our planet.” The company’s founder, Dr. John Perberton, first served Coca-Cola at Jacobs’ Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886. The drink became so popular that it was the company's only successful beverage until 1960, when they started selling Minute Maid Orange Juice. Coca-Cola selling their first beverage through a pharmacy and then acquiring orange juice as another beverage product aligns with their present-day vision of crafting brands of choice drinks for the consumer that “refresh them in body & spirit.” 

H&M

Swedish entrepreneur, Erling Persson decides to start selling women’s fashion in 1946 after going on a road trip across North America. The Stefan Persson family, founders of the H&M Group apparel company, highlights their company culture as a brand story. They pride themselves on being a “family of brands and businesses, making it possible for customers around the world to express themselves through fashion and design, and to choose a more sustainable lifestyle.” They highlight their non-profit, H&M Foundation with a mission to “fund and share solutions for the world’s most urgent challenges.” The company also has a podcast that echoes their core values and mission to “safeguard the welfare of humanity” while manufacturing in the fashion industry. Their online business profile also features sustainability that’s sensitive to climate change, materials, animals, welfare, and human rights. They’ve committed themselves to publishing an annual sustainability report regarding efforts towards their brand’s mission. H&M tells their brand story in blocks of decades that also reflects how fashion has and continue to change. 

Zara

Zara’s is a apparel company selling home goods, fashion, and beauty products. Their brand story doesn’t highlight a founder more than it does their products. Zara’s brand story can be found under beauty products. The company’s “About” page highlights two other pages titled, “The Formulas” and “The System.” Zara also features industry expertise behind the crafting and sustainability of their beauty products. Under “The System,” the company focuses on design and concept featuring Diane Kendal, a makeup artists with a considerable amount of experience in the fashion industry. They also talk about how they’re developing a recycling program. Zara takes great care explaining the concept and development of their beauty products so consumers can trust their brand. This company is a great example of how you can build a genuine brand story without an origin story.

TIP: Build a successful brand strategy by testing creative concepts using our ultimate guide to brand strategy. 

Start building a brand story today

Now that you know how to create a brand story, the next step is testing how compelling it is. Measure how effective your brand story is through an automated analysis and use key metrics to help grow your brand awareness. Creating custom screening questionnaires for feedback will help you build a brand story. Let us help you get started today.

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