A brand story (or story branding) is a cohesive narrative that collects your brand’s facts and feelings. Unlike typical advertising, with a brand story, you can inspire an emotional reaction towards your brand.
How do I start my brand story?
Having a clear vision for your brand is essential in creating your brand story.
- What role would you like your brand to play in the world, ten years from now?
- What is the audience you most want your brand to target?
- What do you stand for?
Answering these questions can help you determine the direction to take with your brand story. Brand stories and content marketing go hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other. To learn more about creating a comprehensive marketing strategy, check out our Content Marketing 101 Guide.
- KNOW YOUR COMPANY
Step one for creating a brand story is to know your brand. Try to analyze what your organization believes outside of your name and logo that will stand the test of time, which will appeal to your audience’s emotions and experiences. Determine this out by listening to your customers, prospects, and employees when discussing what the brand means to them. You can also look at the brand story your competition is creating. How do they follow the market trends with their story? Leverage this information to figure out who you are and what you want your brand to be about.
You can work story branding into your website’s design by thinking about your site as the customer’s journey.
- Let your homepage identify their problem and how they may be feeling
- Layout your site in a way to lead your reader through an experience–identifying the problem
- Design your services page as an offering page, and show your customer how you can help solve that problem
- Create a comprehensive ‘About’ page to tell your reader all about where your company stands
By knowing your company, you can better format your website to portray your target audience’s brand story.
2. Have a Clear Vision for your Brand Story
Once you have a solid idea about your brand (more importantly, what you would like it to be), it is time to implement your vision. According to Molly Hocks, head of client and account services at Aimclear, “Show people, don’t tell them. Build your story from the ground up and come at the process with good intentions. Don’t try to sell yourself to people but rather explain who you are as a company.” Check out the rest of her excellent tips!
The best way to make sure your brand is staying, well, on-brand, is to develop a vision statement. This statement will help guide your brand’s values and plans for the future and serve as a reason for your customers to purchase your products or use your services.
You can work your vision statement into your website’s design by showcasing it on your site’s front page. Give your target audience the best first impression! Check out this example:
3. Find your Audience
You can’t know whom to target your brand message to without knowing your audience. The key to this is to pick the best demographic for your brand and strive to understand their motivations, attitudes, fears, and wants. Try to find out what they value and what larger benefit you can offer them if they become a part of your brand. It also helps if you can point out what costs they will incur if they don’t become part of your brand.
Ensure the web site’s design, everything from the images you employ to the fonts you use will be consistent with your brand story. How do you do this? Well, that depends on your business and your audience! Let’s look at a couple of examples.
If your services extend towards business people, try to make your website design as streamlined and focused as possible, to appeal to an audience eager to get things done.
If your services are focused on volunteers and nonprofit employees, try to make your designs as interactive as possible. Make images clickable, have donation opportunities frequently appear, highlight your message across your site) to get your news out there faster.
By using Analytics on your design-optimized website, you can see if you are reaching your target audience with your strategy.
While finding your audience is not unique to large companies, let’s use one of the most successful corporations globally – McDonald’s! We will use this example to show just how these companies got so significant on the world stage by using story branding. McDonald’s has always tried to appeal to families’ needs for quick, fun meals while out and about.
Families have always wanted a quick place to eat and enjoy the day with their families, without spending a ton of money and waiting for a long time. McDonald’s knew this and capitalized on it.
While their emphasis isn’t on their web presence, the design element still applies to this example. In McDonald’s restaurants, they use fun fonts and bright colors, and paintings that depict happy families eating with children.
Children will likely associate their visits later with happy memories. In later life, they will associate the branding with these good feelings. Someplace to eat and belong, and so they become life long customers.
Corporate brands have worked hard to cultivate a relationship with their audience. Once that connection is made, they work to keep their public image the same and keep their audience.
Small businesses can do this, as well! Small businesses are better able to understand the needs and wants of their community.
Let’s use another example! Say you are a small art gallery looking to promote local art in your community. You will want to appeal to the unique needs and wants of your community. If you are a small town centered around the family, you can design your website based on this theme. Include images of children having fun at your gallery. You will also want to be a landmark for your community, somewhere where people will be familiar with and feel like they belong.
One way to do this is by having a distinct review feature on your website. People can share their fun memories from your gallery or pictures from your community rather than stock photos. The possibilities are endless!
4. Create your Narrative
The signature story representing a brand could be one story, such as a founding story, or a collection of multiple anecdotes showing your target audience what you stand for. You can create mini-stories, like showcasing fantastic customer experiences and memories on your site. You can also gather experiences from workers, providers, and sponsors. These mini stories can weave a narrative about your brand. You can use this narrative to guide you through your marketing and branding decisions.
To use an example, look at the famous ice cream company Ben and Jerry’s. Almost everyone has happy memories with their delicious ice cream, and you can eat it without guilt. This company weaves its progressive tale, from their Fair Trade certification to their stance on climate change. They portray their designs on the sides of their ice cream cartons in such a way to continue their narrative. They use bright colors and fun illustrations, including drawings of happy cows and people (including celebrities), to further help their target audience identify with their brand.
5. Keep It Simple
Molly Hocks, our expert from earlier, recommends keeping your brand story simple. Less is more, as far as branding stories go. What is the problem your company would like to solve? How is your branding story going to address this? How can you design your business and your site to address this problem?
The best way to show the benefits of simplicity is through the example of Patagonia. Patagonia uses design on its clothes, products, and website. Patagonia is a historically environmentally conscious company, whose founder created the company out of concern about the waste that accompanies cloth manufacturing. They regularly donate to initiatives like the Sierra Club. Their environmentally conscious consumers know this through the simple brand story they have portrayed. They have this logo:
The mountain is very recognizable to nearly everyone, as is almost every other successful company’s logo. However, the difference with the Patagonia logo shows that the customer who bears the logo on their shirt or water bottle is climate-conscious to everyone else. They can use this brand, and others’ knowledge of this simple brand story, to show support for the climate cause.
Anyone familiar with Patagonia knows this right away because of their brand story. Which it turn, says something about the user. All this brand recognition and success is simplified to a clean, clear logo and a brand story!
You can do the same by adding prominent yet straightforward examples of your brand story into the elements of your website and your products.
Creating a brand story is one of the more difficult marketing tasks, but perhaps the most important, especially in the digital age. Employing these tips while designing your website can help you create a cohesive brand narrative for your audience.
When you are ready to create and conduct your own brand story on your Kajabi or WordPress site, contact TKD Design!