Unlock the Magic in Your Story
My daughter ran downstairs this morning and told me about “the coolest Star Wars dream ever, Dad.” Her eyes lit up as she described shooting blasters, flying an XWing, and swinging a lightsaber. While you’re probably picturing a jammie-clad child, she’s actually an adult! But her imagination and love of storytelling is still nothing less than infectious. It’s something that connects her to the people around her in magical ways, myself especially. When she tells me any story, even a story about a wild dream, I’m instantly drawn in. It helps that this story was Star Wars based. I’ll never forget the feeling I had seeing those movies in theatres for the first time. It’s hard to go wrong there (prequels excluded). So, I think I’m going to watch them again. You know why? Because they’re damn good stories; ones I keep coming back to.
Let’s take a closer look at damn good stories, why we keep coming back to them, and how they’ll make your brand unforgettable.
We’re constantly consuming stories in a multitude of diverse mediums. Even you, reader, are consuming one right now. Storytelling isn’t just important for human survival, but essential to human connection. Without stories, we’re a monotonous, colourless species, with an inability to get things done.
“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”
~ Seth Godin
Storytelling’s vitality translates to the business world as well, of course. For instance, a sell-itself product has the potential to be overlooked if the story doesn’t engage you. It’s imperative that a brand’s story is authentic. That it creates personal connection, activates emotion, and fosters trust with its customer base. Ultimately, resulting in a more profitable venture. The more you can connect with your audience, the larger your audience becomes, and the more people are buying what you’re selling. All of this happens by creating a brand story. Because, we like stories. They’re what make us human. Likewise, your brand story is what makes your brand your brand, as opposed to just a commodity.
What is a Brand Story?
To elaborate, your brand story is how you’re authentically yourself. It’s not the product you sell. It’s who you are, what you do, why you do it, and what makes you different. Reaching beyond commercial aspirations, brands that have strong stories establish themselves as difference makers, versus competition driven entities. Even if your brand is profit based, the idea of a brand story emphasizes making an impact, instead of a buck. A more admirable, less Bezzos sounding aspiration. Think about what makes you unique. Think about what makes you valuable. Think about what makes you genuine. If you keep all of this in mind, you’ll be able to establish an authentic story that consumers can then help you write further.
And there are so many benefits if you do it right.
A great story helps you:
1. Communicate with clarity and confidence.
2. Achieve emotional resonance with your audience.
3. Makes your brand more persuasive and influential.
4. Consistently act in alignment with your mission.
5. Attract the right people, whether they be customers, employees, volunteers or donors.
6. Inspire people to buy into your mission or get behind your cause.
7. Execute plans as you work towards your vision for the future.
8. Add value to your products, services and company.
9. Spread your ideas.
10. Change the culture and creates the future you want to see.
One Point Twenty-One Roasters (I.XXI), is a specialty coffee roaster in Burlington, Ontario. Their namesake is inspired by the 1980’s mega-blockbuster movie, Back to the Future. Founder and creator Neil Madden grew up in the ‘80s, and was obsessed with the franchise as a child. When he had children of his own, he made sure to pass that obsession on. The brand is an homage to the films, his children who helped him grow his business, and spending time with those you love.
Each of their blends is named in reference to the films. From an 88mph Espresso Blend, to a Mr. Sandman Decaf, to Great Scott, One Point Twenty-One Roasters consistently makes us smile. It’s one of those damn good stories, and it takes me back every time I brew a pot.
Making a Difference
I first discovered 4Ocean in a YouTube ad, actually. Let’s be honest, if there’s a “skip ad” button, we’re clicking it. But 4Ocean’s brand story was so captivating, that I watched the entire two-minute ad. It was so inspiring, that I forgot what YouTube video I was trying to stream in the first place.
The company was founded by two friends on a surfing trip. Noticing an abundance of trash in the ocean, the two decided to make a change. Their efforts to endlessly recycle and purify our oceans have made a tremendous impact. Now, with each product (made from recycled ocean plastic) sold, a pound – yes a pound – of trash is removed from the ocean. The young entrepreneurs have found personal success, and simultaneously contributed to environmental restoration.
It’s a story that I want to hear, it’s a story that I’m proud to support, and by buying their product, it’s a story that makes me the “hero”, and in turn, I want to tell all of my friends that story too.
Celebrating Your Roots
Spending most of my life in Manitoba, I grew a great appreciation for Indigenous culture and storytelling. Manitobah Mukluks creates traditional Mukluks, Moccasins, and Storyboots for the modern consumer.
“As an Indigenous-owned company, our vision is to build a vibrant, global brand that makes a significant impact in Indigenous communities,” states the brand. Manitoba Mukluks keeps traditions alive while celebrating shared values and history. Each product is rooted in Indigenous culture.
With emphasis on tradition, cultural customs, and respecting our heritage, Manitobah Mukluks tells an important story. It’s the kind of story that makes me, as a Canadian, reflect on our history, in the way something like a “heritage minute” (if you grew up Canadian, I’m sure you remember those) cannot. It brings history into our modern reality. If I’m supporting this brand, I’m making a difference, and helping, just a little, to keep tradition alive. This story is theirs to tell, and I’m so glad they’re telling it.
When you succeed at creating a strong brand story, you’re able to create a connection with your customer. And a customer with a connection to your brand is a repeat one, because, frankly, we like what we identify with. If your brand reminds me of camping trips with my family, or driving across Canada on my motorcycle, or holding my kids’ hands when they were little to help them cross the street, I’m going to support it. And I’m going to keep supporting your brand. Because it makes me feel like I’m supporting those positive experiences from my life. Sure, it’s nostalgia and a touch of narcissism that drives that decision, but it’s human nature. Focusing on building a connection with your base can create deep, emotional experiences. And if we focus on customer experiences instead of customer service, we create more than just a “customer base.” We create a tribe. Your tribe will be loyal, and want your brand to succeed. They’ll be coming back for more because they know, trust, and like you. You’ll have developed genuine relationships, and advocates for life.
“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision.”
~ Neil Gaiman
An engaging, genuine brand story is consistent, it’s thorough, it’s unique, it’s specific, it’s thoughtful, it’s authentic, and most importantly, it’s yours.
And you know what? You already have an advantage; the story only you can tell.