We’ve all had those moments.
You’re having a conversation with someone and they say something that makes you think of a story. So, you launch right into it.
“Oh, this one time, I went to a networking event and met a lot of wonderful people and it was great.”
Your conversation partner stares at you for a moment, blinks, and says, “…oh, cool…”. They’re so apathetic to your story they can’t even force the tiniest amount of inflection in their voice. Your story has just fallen flat and now there’s an awkward silence between the two of you.
These conversation blunders are understandable in person. Depending on who you’re talking to, they’re unlikely to make or break your business. The thing is, many businesses don’t realize they’re making this mistake over and over again in their marketing.
They create a blog post that fails because the customer doesn’t care about the content. Or, even worse, they invest hundreds or thousands of dollars into an advertising campaign that falls flat because it just doesn’t connect with their ideal customers.
Don’t be one of those businesses. If you’re spending time and money to develop a story for your brand, you want to make sure it doesn’t fall flat with your target customers.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your brand story resonates with your audience.
1. Connect With Your Audience on an Emotional Level
“When dealing with people, remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”Dale Carnegie
Humans are crazy emotional. Even if you consider yourself to be particularly unemotional, we’re here to tell you: that’s just not true.
Much of what we do on a daily basis is due to emotions. We start our businesses because we care about making something happen.
We get in arguments with our children, partners, or maybe even colleagues because we get frustrated or angry. We even make decisions largely based on emotion, rather than logic.
So, what does this mean for you? Make sure your story has some emotional attachment to the same thing your ideal audience cares about (and no, that doesn’t mean you need to suddenly become an open book to truly connect).
This requires in-depth research into who your audience is and what makes them tick.
Pathos or the emotional appeal, means to persuade an audience by appealing to their emotions. [Writers] use pathos to invoke sympathy from an audience; to make the audience feel what what the author wants them to feel.Pathosethoslogos.com
Let’s say you’re marketing to working mothers who are exhausted and overwhelmed. One way you could appeal to their emotions is by telling a story about a working mother (i.e. yourself, a past customer, a friend, etc.) who was so exhausted she would come home every night and cry herself to sleep. She felt stuck; she didn’t know how to alleviate her exhaustion but also knew she couldn’t keep up her current lifestyle for much longer.
That’s when she discovered your business (or, if it’s you, you discovered the solution which is now the business you’re marketing). She now feels like she has enough energy/time to get everything done while also feeling her best self.
In this example, we have a simple story structure:
Character: The exhausted, working mother
Setting: She’s managing everything from maintaining the household to balancing a full-time career
Conflict: She’s exhausted, overwhelmed, and cries herself to sleep every night (these are the emotions that your customer can relate to)
Resolution: Your product/service
The key here is to know what matters to your ideal customer. If you were talking to a stay-at-home father, he may not have the same concerns. Similarly, if you were talking to a professional who doesn’t have kids, they may not have the same concerns, either.
2. Stay Authentic: Show, Don’t Just Tell
One day, we were having a conversation with one of our clients about their brand story. The founder is very passionate about their mission and how she wants to use her business to make an impact on the world (or, at the very least, her industry).
As a brand with a focus on sustainability and the circular economy, her challenge is competing with businesses who are simply following the trend of saying they’re sustainable rather than actually taking the steps to be sustainable.
Because she’s put so much time and effort into making sure every step of her product lifecycle is sustainable, she wanted to make sure that came across. She asked us, “how do I make sure our message comes across as authentic and not like we’re also just following a marketing trend?”
We firmly believe there are at least two ways you can express the authenticity of your brand’s vision.
Connect it to your inner passion
Have you ever had a conversation with somebody about a topic they’re truly passionate about? It’s magical.
Their eyes light up, they sit up straighter, and they talk to you in clear and steady voice. They turn almost suddenly into a whole new person. You can tell immediately they truly care about what they’re talking about.
When you have that inner passion, it will show in everything you do and everything you create. As long as you stay consistent with it (we’ll get to that in a moment), then all you need to do is stay passionate about your core vision and values. The rest will follow.
Show, don’t tell
Once you have that passion down, the next step is showing your audience you truly do care.
There’s a difference between slapping a sustainable sticker on your product versus showing every step of your manufacturing process and explaining exactly how it’s sustainable.
If you do create a product, don’t hide anything. Talk about the quality of your factory and their employees’ quality of life. Explain the manufacturing process (without giving away any trade secrets, of course). Describe the shipping process. Show how it’s being packaged. And tell your customer what to do with the product when they’re done with it (can they recycle? If so, how? If not, then what?).
The more you show, the more your customers will trust your business and associate your vision with your brand.
3. Consistency is Key
Nothing is more sketchy than a flaky story. One week, you’re telling people you’re all about sustainability. The next week, you care more about women’s rights than the planet. Sometime later, you have a campaign about getting people to adopt more dogs.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these – in fact, these are all clearly great causes – the problem is when you’re not consistent. When that happens, your brand looks like it’s chasing one big trend after another rather than sticking to a core vision.
Whether you have a big vision to make a positive impact on the world or you’re helping individuals solve their problems, the key is to stay consistent.
The best way to do this is to use a brand story outline. We’ve created one as part of our brand story starter kit which you can purchase here. This includes a breakdown of:
- Your Character: What do they want?
- Their Problem: What are their primary challenges?
- Your Business: How is your business the right solution for them?
- The Process: What is the roadmap for your customer to go from challenge to solution?
- The Call-to-Action: What will you ask them to do to make the purchase?
- Their Transformation: What will their resolution look like?
4. Less Is More
There’s a reason why the minimalist revolution is on the rise. We as humans are tired of living such cluttered lives. Everything from our digital existence to our homes are filled with so much stuff and noise and we’re just tired of all of it.
That’s why when you’re telling a story for your business, you want to make sure it’s clear and concise.
Don’t make your ideal customers work for it. You want them to burn the least amount of calories understanding who you are and what you do.
Want to take your business’ brand story to the next level but don’t have the budget to hire a professional agency or consultant? Or perhaps you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of entrepreneur?
We’ve just launched our brand story starter kit – the in-between solution to figuring it out by yourself and hiring a professional. We provide everything you need to design and tell your own brand story with worksheets, templates, and two ebooks to guide you through the process.
Not sure if that’s right for you? You can get a glimpse by downloading a piece of it, the Discover Your Brand Story worksheet, for free here.