What’s your story? Great storytelling is fundamental to building a brand.
Good stories make you think. Great stories make you feel.
Shakespeare is the world’s greatest storyteller precisely for his ability to translate universal emotions (love, jealousy, revenge, ambition) into timeless works that have stirred the human soul for more than 500 years. But great stories aren’t limited to classic plays and literature. They are everywhere—from a memorable newspaper article about an unknown person halfway around the world to a heart-wrenching Twitter thread that makes the political personal or even a compelling corporate narrative.
Take Apple. The company will be forever linked to its founder, Steve Jobs, the design-and-marketing genius who inadvertently created the most successful company on earth while tinkering in the garage with a friend. The narrative sits at the very core of the Apple brand.
Not every business will have a story tailor made for an Academy Award-nominated film starring Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet. But there are steps you can to take to make your brand narrative resonate, ala Apple.
1. Keep It Simple.
Walt Whitman said, “Simplicity is the glory of expression.” The best narratives are simple, straightforward and easy to follow. Whether you sell fruit baskets or highly technical financial platforms, your story is about who you are, what you do and why you do it—no fancy language or long-winded explanations needed.
2. Make It Personal.
Some brands spend too much time on the “what” of their product and not enough on the “why.” This may work if you have a truly unique product—a juicer that connects to the internet, for example. But if you sell clothing or cupcakes or cosmetics, the “why” is how you differentiate one indistinguishable product from another. L.L. Bean owes much of its authenticity to its compelling company story. Founder Leon Leonwood Bean, an avid outdoorsman, wanted to keep his feet dry while hunting. He enlisted a local cobbler to fashion leather tops onto rubber boots—and the rest is sports-apparel history.
3. Embrace the Conflict.
Every great story has an obstacle. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t bother reading books or watching movies or TV shows. (Why do you think every reality show has a villain?) Overcoming challenge is tough. Think of how many successful CEOs were fired, sometimes from the very companies they founded (again, Steve Jobs). When it comes to telling your company’s story, wear your scars with pride, not shame. There’s nothing better—or more uniquely American—than a comeback story.
4. Details Matter.
Compelling stories are about big things and little things. When crafting your corporate narrative, don’t leave out the smaller details: the smile on a satisfied customer’s face or the color of your first prototype. Stories without color or context are boring—a glorified fact sheet. Incorporate details into your narrative to bring your brand to life.
Storytelling is a powerful thing—whether you read it on a book or come across it on a website. Need help crafting your story? JConnelly can help. Contact us today.