How to Create a Brand Story

how to create a brand story

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Your brand story encompasses all the intriguing, formational, and memorable aspects of your brand from the day it all began up until the present, even looking ahead at where your brand aims to go in the future. 

Laying out your brand story internally will help your business better define who you are and what you value. Sharing your brand story with your audience can bolster loyalty and help your brand feel more authentic.  Let’s explore how to create a brand story that will help build connections with your audience. 

Table of Contents

What is a Brand Story?

Your brand story may seem quite cut-and-dry, especially if you’re new to the concept. Many people sit down to write their brand story and they just start scribbling out a timeline of milestones. In reality, you don’t need to rehash every little detail of how you got to now. Instead, your brand story is best summarized in a paragraph or two.

The clothing brand Bombas has a powerful example of a short and impactful brand story, which goes:

We believe a more comfortable world is a better world. Everyone, no matter their circumstances, deserves to put on clean clothes that feel good. So we perfected socks, underwear, and t-shirts you’ll want to live in. Created apparel you’ll never want to take off. And for every item you purchase for yourself, we donate an item to someone affected by homelessness.

In a few sentences, Bombas tells us three things: They want everyone to have comfortable clothing, they’ve put a lot of effort into the design of their clothing, and they donate one item for every item you buy. That’s not just a story the reader can get behind, it’s a story the reader wants to be part of. It makes you feel good and it makes you want to support Bombas, and that’s how you know it’s an excellent example. 

If you think a few sentences aren’t enough, any brand can elaborate upon their brand story, like the clothing brand Marine Layer. They have a great example of how you can flesch out your brand story to make it even more personal:

The day after my girlfriend threw away my favorite shirt I started working on Marine Layer… I wanted to recreate a shirt that would feel like my old favorite from day 1, so I wouldn’t have to worry about anybody taking liberties with my closet + a trash can.

It took me over a year to perfect a custom fabric, so I convinced my best friend Adam to join me. After we made our first real batch of tees, we realized we needed something to transport them. So we did what any sane business would do: We bought a ’69 VW bus.

Since then, we’ve gotten a bunch of friends to quit their jobs and help us make some clothes. Together, we’ve built a brand around absurdly soft shirts that are perfect for a 7-day weekend kinda lifestyle.

With some photos thrown into the mix, Marine Layer communicates that they’re a fun, relaxed brand that designs insanely soft clothing for fun, relaxed people. The casual voice perfectly suits their laidback audience. 

These examples can make writing a brand story seem easy, but figuring how to create a brand story that speaks to your audience isn’t easy. 

How to Write a Brand Story

You can condense your brand story into a few sentences or draw it out into a few paragraphs. In any case, be careful not to write a book. Your goal is to create a short and snappy brand story to highlight what really matters. Follow these steps to get it right. 

1. Perfect Your Personality

Marine Layer’s casual voice is the perfect match for their laidback audience. What’s your brand’s personality? If you haven’t clearly defined your “voice” yet, now would be a good time to go through the 12 brand archetypes. 

Your personality won’t impact what goes into your story, but it will impact how it’s presented and how it’s perceived. You could have a fantastic brand story, but if you try to tell it using the wrong voice, you’ll fail to make a real connection with your target audience. 

2. Define Your Purpose

Marine Layer has set out to design “absurdly soft shirts” that suit the laid back coastal lifestyle. Bombas wants the whole world in comfortable clothes, especially those impacted by homelessness. Ask yourself: Why does your brand exist? What inspired you to get up and bring something new to the market?

It’s easy for the lines to blur between your brand purpose and your brand mission. Here’s the key difference: Purpose guides you and your mission drives you. 

Let’s take The Ocean Cleanup as an example. They have a goal of cleaning up 90% of the plastic floating around the ocean. They even state, “Our aim is to put ourselves out of business once the oceans are clean.” That’s their mission, it’s what they’ve set out to accomplish, so let’s figure out “why” and then we’ll know the charity’s purpose. 

Brand purpose explains why you want to accomplish your mission. The Ocean Cleanup explains that they want to clean up all that plastic because of its impact on the environment, economy, and public health. They state: “Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, impacting nearly 700 marine species.” 

Write down both your mission and your purpose to help you distinguish between the two. Having both on hand (and clearly defined) will help you craft an impactful brand story. 

3. Talk About Feelings

Being an authentic brand means appealing to the human psyche. Writing your brand story gives you the perfect opportunity to make it human by discussing the impulses, emotions, struggles, and desires that brought you here.

On a simple level, Marine Layer’s founder talks about the day his girlfriend threw away his favorite shirt. We all know what a favorite shirt feels like–it’s cozy, broken in, and probably has some sentimental value. Now imagine someone throwing that item away, and the founding of Marine Layer becomes a lighthearted, relatable tale.

On a deeper level, Bombas taps into strong emotions by talking about their commitment to providing new clothing to those impacted by homelessness. On their site, they discuss how the homeless don’t have access to clean clothes every day and how, in general, homelessness is an under-publicized issue. The brand has a strong desire to make a difference. 

Most likely, your brand is somewhere in between the goofy impulses behind Marine Layer and the serious desires that are driving Bombas. What matters is that you bring your brand’s most authentic feelings to life.  

4. Fill In The Blanks

Once you have your purpose and you’ve dressed it up with the emotions and challenges that shaped your brand, it’s time to put it together. Add details that give you the opportunity to expand upon feelings and showcase your values, and you’ll end up with something like The Ocean Cleanup’s brand story: 

At 16 years of age, Boyan Slat saw more plastic bags than fish when scuba diving in Greece. He thought: “Why can’t we just clean this up?” This question led him to research the plastic pollution problem for a school project. He learned about plastic accumulating in five large oceanic gyres, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In 2012, Boyan Slat held a TedX talk about how to rid the world’s oceans of plastic using technology. The video went viral, and the momentum that followed allowed him to drop out of school and found The Ocean Cleanup.

That brand story packs a whole lot of punch into one paragraph. Not only was Boyan inspired at a young age by a real-world experience, but he went on to drop out of school when he was presented with an opportunity to solve the problem that impacted him so deeply. That showcases incredible commitment, passion, and drive, which is exactly what people want to see in a charity. 

Still need help creating your brand story? We’ve got a template to guide you.

Brand Story Template

Crafting a compelling brand story that’s short and inspirational isn’t easy. You’re likely going to create multiple versions before you settle on one that speaks to you, and that’s exactly what you should do. Rarely is a perfect brand story typed up in one try.

To help you construct the first rough draft of your brand story, try this template:

In [year], [we] founded [company name] because we were [adjective] by [unique motivator]. We believe in [belief], so we set out to solve [problem] by [action]. Our mission is to [result].

It doesn’t look like much, but if we come up with some information for a pretend company, we get this: 

In 2018, my wife and I founded Cody & Co. because we were humbled by the resiliency of our dog, Cody, after a near fatal car accident. We believe in treating pets like family, so we set out to solve the issue of pet safety by creating a safer seat belt for dogs. Our mission is to keep dogs safer on the road so we can keep travelling with our best friends.

In those short sentences, we already know that Cody & Co. is on a meaningful mission. The founders exude authenticity because, just like their target audience, they love dogs–and they now know first-hand how important it is to buckle them up in the car. This brand story elicits trust and sparks an emotional response from the reader, just like yours will when you finish it. 

Now, let’s talk about bringing your brand story to life through brand storytelling.

What is Brand Storytelling?

Once you create your brand story, it might live on your “About Us” page or end up printed on product packaging, but the brand story that you write is only a small piece of a bigger picture. 

The brand story you write is only “the story so far,” and even then it’s only the story as told from your perspective. Your customers, partners, and employees also have a voice in your overall brand story, and they’re sharing it all the time in reviews, on social media, and through word-of-mouth.

Because there are so many people chiming in to shape your brand story, brand storytelling is important to help you retain control. Effective brand storytelling creates a cohesive narrative, whether you’re sharing your newly written brand story on your website or building upon its concepts on social media, in a customer phone call, or on a billboard. 

Tips for Effective Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling takes your brand’s core emotions and ideas and brings them to life on a day-to-day basis. Any communications involving your brand should be approached as a chance to build your brand story. When done right, storytelling helps you form lasting connections with your audience while building recognition and trust. Here are some tips for effective brand storytelling. 

Spark Deeper Conversations

In order to create the connection your audience is searching for, you have to go the extra mile and get them talking to you. Ask questions, prompt engagement, and involve your audience in the daily happenings of your company. 

One big mistake brands make is that they manage to start a conversation, but they do it with strings attached. In other words, they really only engage someone so that they can follow-up with a sales pitch or they really only want an answer because they need data to guide their product development.

There’s nothing wrong with taking surveys or following up with engaged prospects, but that can’t be the goal when you’re trying to build lasting connections. Take the time to talk to your audience for the sake of having a conversation. 

Remember That Storytelling is Constant

Making conversation a habit is essential. If you only try to have a conversation a couple times a month or here and there, you won’t be able to sustain lasting connections. Brands often struggle because they don’t have the resources to be online every single day, but it is something to work towards. Narrow your efforts down to just 2-3 social networks so you can concentrate your resources. Once you’ve picked your platforms, make a plan to get on those networks at least a few times a week.

Every time you get online, share compelling content, find opportunities to talk about your brand values, answer questions, and just enjoy “hanging out” with your audience. Over time, your followers will become more engaged once they realize that your brand is interactive. 

Design Consumable Experiences

Once you’re consistent with engagement, you’ll be able to turn online interactions into consumable experiences. Those experiences shape the perception of your brand while being highly memorable. 

A good example of a consumable experience is live streaming to social media. Live streaming allows your audience to interact in real-time while also getting to know some of the names and faces behind your company, which makes your brand more relatable.  Another consumable experience that you can create online is an “Ask Me Anything” session or a weekly Q&A. You can also play trivia, take your audience behind-the-scenes, or introduce team members. Having founders share their personal stories is a powerful and direct way to bring your brand story front-and-center. 

You get to decide how you can create consumable experiences that fit your brand and audience, but whatever you choose to do, make sure it aligns with your persona and values. 

Build a Community of Evangelists

Every brand’s ultimate goal is to build a community of “brand evangelists.” Evangelists represent your brand’s biggest fans. They’re active on social media and quick to join conversations that involve your products, services, or industry. 

As you sustain connections with your audience over time, you’ll start to see your first evangelists emerge. Once that happens, your social media pages and other avenues of interaction will turn into a lively community where your audience interacts with each other even when your team isn’t around.

A highly engaged audience is nothing but good news for your brand. Evangelists will help solve problems, answer questions, and grow your community for you, and that’s when you know you’re taking the right approach to brand storytelling. 

Build Your Brand Through Content

Has all this talk about branding inspired you to craft a brand story and invest in storytelling efforts? We are huge advocates of creating a strong and consistent brand image across platforms, which is why we take a strategy-first approach to content production.

The content you put on your blog, on social media, on products, and in emails all matters when it comes to telling your brand story and shaping consumer perception. A content strategy will help you figure out what to say, while your brand story helps you remember who you’re talking to and how you should present everything. Together, a brand story and content strategy will prove extremely valuable in growing your business.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the content you publish helps shape your brand and your audience’s perception of it, take a moment to learn more about what we do. 

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