Once upon a time…

It’s the start of every great story, right?

Each business has an origin story of its own. A reason why a business was started and what solution they sought out to fix for people.

We all understand the trials and tribulations businesses face as they grow and evolve. Companies learn from successes and failures and their stories either become a testimony of success … or a cautionary tale.

Every business faces competition in their market. A good story can help a company stand tall as customers latch onto it and become a part of the storytelling itself.

But what makes a good brand story? What makes your story interesting. More importantly, how can you create a brand story that makes customers trust in you and what you are doing?

Brand Stories on Display

If you’re like us, you’ve watched more than a few episodes of Shark Tank. Time and time again, businesses get deals because the Sharks bought into the brand story that they are telling as much as the product which they are selling (if not more).

Companies who assume a social responsibility are more investible to the Sharks, because they know that it makes a consumer more likely to support a brand.

A great brand story also lends itself to more shareable content on social media. When customers buy into your brand story, they become brand advocates.

Think about a company story which you have bought into. What worked?

TOMS One for One

One of the most successful recent examples of creating a brand story is TOMS One for One approach to business. For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. Additionally, when you buy a pair of eyewear, TOMS will help to restore sight to an individual in need.

“It’s different from traditional marketing because we’re not just a shoe company, a sunglasses or a fashion company, or a coffee company. We’re not just selling — we’re also a movement.” – Zita Cassizzi, TOMS’ Chief Digital Officer

Think about it. There is no shortage of options out there when you need a new pair of shoes. The brand story of TOMS helps the consumer feel something when they buy new shoes.

TOMS Shoes One For One

From Visually.

Bombas Warms Feet and Hearts

A Shark Tank success story, Bombas donates one pair of socks for every one pair purchased. Their founders learned that socks were the most requested item at homeless shelters. So, Bombas works with shelters, non-profits, charities, and individuals dedicated to helping the homeless, in-need, or at-risk communities.

On the strength of their brand story, Bombas sold $400,000 worth of socks in just four days after their Shark Tank appearance! That’s so many socks donated.

R.Riveter Offers Pride in Storytelling

Not every business needs a donation model to succeed with a brand story. There are other causes that people will rally behind.

R.Riveter employs military spouses to handcraft handbags and accessories. They bring together a community and create a connection between their products and customers.

Their concept was proven even before R.Riveter hit Shark Tank. They raised $42,000 in a successful Kickstarter campaign first. In early 2017, co-founder Lisa Bradley revealed the company had grown 600% since airing on Shark Tank.

It’s hard to deny the power of a brand story when you see the success stories at every level of R.Riveter.

How To Create Your Own Brand Story

There are several steps a business must take to establish a brand story that holds any merit. All of these elements add up to earn trust and lend authenticity to your brand story.

Infuse Your Story with Personality

Your marketing materials should speak with the same tone as the individuals who collectively make up your corporate culture. If the individuals who make up your company buy into that story, the customers will too. People like what others are passionate about.

We talked about this with our friends at Tom’s of Maine on the Heart of Business podcast.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

A mantra for myself when it comes to copywriting.

Simplicity is important when it comes to establishing a brand story. Achieving simplicity is as simple as remembering the basic elements of any good story. A beginning, middle and end.

  • Beginning: This is the reason you went into business. That problem that you knew you could fix. The Why you’re in business.
  • Middle: Not just the products or services you offer to solve the problem, but also the way in which your business operates.
  • End: Your brand story will speak for itself when it’s a good one. You’ll be proud to boast your successes and your customers will be too.

TOMS founder and CEO, Blake Mycoskie, often speaks about the simplicity to their One for One brand story.

“My prior businesses really showed me how important it is to keep it simple,” says Mycoskie. “Some of the businesses that weren’t really successful in my earlier days were because they were too complex and required too much dependence on having a big customer to be successful.”

Why Are You Here?

In the example above, Bombas didn’t just set out to reinvent your socks drawer. They saw the success that Toms had with the One for One model and wanted to do something similar for the homeless community.

Bombas managed to get people excited about socks with a great brand story. The punchline to every bad gift joke itself, socks, became something people were happy to buy into. That’s why you need a reason for existence that extends past making money.

The Results

When you can achieve these elements within your brand story, you will reap the rewards. As we all know, every good story has a great ending. It’s a third act that both your brand and your customers will enjoy.

This is what you can look forward to:

  • Customers who connect with your story. This is achieved when you speak to them in a way that says we are on your side, we get what you need, because we are just like you.
  • Customers that buy into your brand … and the products or services you sell. When you have a great brand story, your customers are buying into that with each purchase.
  • Customers that are brand advocates. They will share your story on social media and boast their association to your brand. It’s some of the best word-of-mouth marketing that you can achieve

Let’s all work to build our happily ever afters.

Share Your Story

Do you have experience with creating a brand story?

Share your tips and lessons in the comments. We want to hear from you!