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5 Forgotten Rules of Brand Storytelling for Serious Entrepreneurs

5 forgotten rules brand story

We live in a post-advertising opt-in culture, where banner ads, discount coupons, and sticker ads are all too ubiquitous. But, unfortunately, their proliferation means that they don’t work anymore. With an information deluge storming the audiences, people are losing interest in logic and facts and often tend to overlook such dreary developments. People are switching to making decisions based on emotions, rather than stone cold voice of reasoning. And storytelling is a fantastic way to cultivate an emotional connection with your customers. Seth Godin has it right when it said, “ Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories, you tell.”

Simply capturing stunning images and uploading them on your website is only half the battle. The other half, the better half to be more precise, is linking those images with captivating stories that have a propensity to strike the right cords. Great stories help to foster the credibility of your brand and position you at the right spot in the eyes of your potential customers. As author Gary Halbert puts it, “And do you know what the most-often missing ingredient in a sales message is?  It’s the sales message that doesn’t tell an interesting story.  Storytelling – good storytelling – is a vital component of a marketing campaign.”

What does a great story look like, you may ask? And how can you create stories for your brand that don’t just engage people, but, more than that, they help people establish a much-needed bond of trust with your brand?After all, as Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats puts it, “You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.” Here are five rules that can help you build memorable, and beautiful stories for your brands.

Rule 1: Break the Rules

Right from the time when you fall down from heaven till you are ready to go back up again, you are trained in a manner that inadvertently compels you to follow the rules. But in storytelling, rule #1 is to break the rules. If you want to stand out from the competition, you need to break the rules.

Why do people pay $1.20 for a normal cup of Coffee, but are willing to pay a whopping $5.50 if that Coffee comes from Starbucks? Is it the brand power? Yes, it is. But, deep down, it is the story that Starbucks keep telling us which makes all the difference.

Before 2015, successful movies were the ones that were fabricated in a third-person action. But, a Russian filmmaker Ilya Naishuller wanted to break the script and try something new. So, he came up with a twist. He made the whole movie in first-person. Hardcore Henry is an action film shot entirely through a first-person point-of-view. For some, this might seem like an out-of-the-box movie. But, for me, it was jaw-droppingly fascinating!

For your brand story, you can put the protagonist (the customer in the lead role) and built a story around him. His problem, your solution, his trust. Try out writing a story like this in your next digital campaign and see how people respond to that.

Rule 2: Try Something Different yet Familiar

When Brian Acton & Jan Koum were faced with a problem of effectively sending instant messages to people, they created WhatsApp. Messaging had been around for quite some time, but what Brian & Jan did was to change the narrative of connecting with people.

The messaging feature was the same, but they enhanced the product with a kick of innovation that people absolutely swooned over. As the author, Daniel Pink has it, “The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic ‘right-brain’ thinkers.”

A good brand story revolves around two things: a problem and a resolution.A great brand story centers on the main character, the time, and the place where it all began. For you that will be the first ‘why’. Why it all started and what you can do about it!

Rule 3: Start with the Ending

I am a horror movie aficionado. And anybody who is into this grisly genre knows for a fact that the ending is what keeps us glued to our screens. Take any successful horror movie and right in the first scene, you will be greeted with a gruesome beginning. This is not a coincidence. This is simply playing with the psychology of the viewers.

This is what feeding the curiosity of the brain to garner the attention of the viewer is all about. The same rule applies to brands. If you as a brand aspire to attract your potential customers, don’t start with the features that your product is touting. Always start with the promise of an ending (solution) that your customer can anticipate for.

Rule 4: Add Emotions to the Story

talks about emotions

Logic leads to conclusions while emotions lead to action. If you want your brand story to make an impact, fill it with emotions. Kevin Roberts in his marvelous book “Lovemarks: The Future beyond Brands”, talks about emotions and how they lead to decision making. “Humans are powered by emotions. Study after study has proven that if the emotional centers of our brains are damaged in some way, we don’t just lose the ability to laugh or cry, we lose the ability to make decisions.”

If you want to leave a mark on your customer’s mind – the best way is to touch their emotions. Make sure that your brand story moves them. Make them cry, feel joy or excitement, and even provoke them into a state of irk or rage. If you are able to do that, your brand will be remembered for ages.

As Laura Holloway, The founder of the Story Telling agency has said, “If all you’re doing is marketing, you’re doing it wrong. Storytelling works because you’re sharing a memory or a lesson, or you’re inspiring someone with your own story. Rather than just selling, you’re giving something of value. Storytelling offers the opportunity to talk with your audience, not at them. People can’t help but want to be a part of your story, and that’s how marketing can happen the natural way.”

Rule 5: Find that Sweet Spot

Batter Hitting Baseball — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

According to the digital marketing director, Melinda Partin, “At its very core, marketing is storytelling. The best advertising campaigns take us on an emotional journey – appealing to our wants, needs, and desires – while at the same time telling us about a product or service.”

Whether you are a burgeoning Entrepreneur or a well-established business, there are two things that you need to take care of. First, your brand values, and second, the needs of your customers. When creating your brand story, you need to find that sweet spot in between, and let the customer come to you.

Make them curious, guide them, and aid them in solving their problems. Create your brand story which people can relate to, and ensure that the story leads them to a solution.

At the end of the day, you’re living in an era where technology has never been more affordable and approachable. You have all the tools that many of us and those before us could only have dreamed of 15 to 20 years ago, at your beck and call. Get out there and tell YOUR brand story or allow us to create one for you.

Yousuf Rafi
Yousuf Rafi
A Caffeine dependent non-mainstream person trying to elevate small talk to medium talk. I know I will win, not immediately but definitely. I do most of the talking in my head. However, for other things, I prefer writing blogs.

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