You hear the term “origin story” all the time when it comes to superheroes. But beyond the world of Batman and Wonder Woman, an origin story matters for brands as well.
For a few years in my career, I worked in the publishing industry as an editor and marketer. So it comes as no surprise that I’m all about storytelling. But once I moved on to corporate content marketing, I realized quickly that stories go beyond the characters on a page — they extend to the everyday life of the consumer. People crave connection. They don’t want to just buy products from you; they want an immersive experience and to feel part of something bigger.
That’s why all the largest public-facing companies have the most loyal fanbases. Think about the Apple vs. Samsung, the Coke vs. Pepsi, and Nike vs. Adidas battles, just to name a few. Consumers nowadays don’t just love a brand — they refuse to do business with the opposite brand.
I’ve been to enough restaurants with friends to hear how the Coke vs. Pepsi debate goes over. There’s always one friend who asks, “Pepsi or Coke products?” and groans when the restaurant carries the other soda brand.
So where does brand loyalty come from? Sure, in the case of Coke and Pepsi, it might come down to taste. The product itself matters. But beyond that, storytelling and positioning as a company goes a long way.
3 Reasons Why Brand Storytelling Makes a Difference
1) Stand out from the crowd
There’s a lot of brands out there. The everyday consumer is bombarded with different options on what to wear, what to eat, how to get fit, and who to bank with, just to name a few. Businesses have the same sort of decisions, on which platforms to use, what insurance to go through, what agencies to work with, and so on.
In this pack of companies vying for attention, you need to be able to stand out. Digital marketing certainly helps in driving people to your site or increasing your audience reach. But for conversion, you need to stand out. If you don’t tell a story that makes you different than your competitors, then you’re likely to lose out.
2) Connect to target audiences
People yearn for connection. They want to feel connected to companies, especially consumer brands. If an individual feels no loyalty or is neutral to your company, they are much more likely to move on to another company. To convert customers long-term, you need connection so they want to buy again and again.
One of the best ways to form a connection is through brand storytelling. The right kind of brand marketing relates to your target avatar, while also telling the story of your company and its core values.
Think of the last few commercials you watched that sparked you to feel something. One I saw a few years back was for a Thai insurance company. It showcased the power of small acts of kindness and the company’s tagline of “Believe in Good.” Even the more product-focused videos can create a connection, like Google’s “Parisian Love” commercial, which shows an unfolding love story told through Google’s search engine.
These types of commercials are flooding the market right now and winning awards because they work. People want to feel connected. Whether it sparks tears, laughter, or a longing for something more, it’s all forms of brand storytelling.
3) Better way to convey complicated information
Some brands and product offerings are complex. For those buyers who are unaware or problem aware, it can be even harder to get them on board to see your company as the solution.
American behavioral scientist Jennifer Aaker says, “Stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone.” If you’re trying to convey complicated information, or even be memorable, then brand storytelling is an effective tool.
Or, instead of explaining the product itself, brand storytelling can convey the purpose or benefits behind it. One of the most famous examples is Apple’s “1984” ad. They never actually show a computer, but they do show what Apple products are designed to do: revolutionize technology and empower free-thinking.
Either way, stories are a great way to condense information and share it in an easy-to-follow way, so the buyer can become solution aware.
Brand Storytelling for B2B vs. B2C
You’ve probably seen or heard your fair share of brand storytelling from B2C brands. A lot of the examples above are from B2C companies. But what about B2B companies?
Although it’s harder to make a connection in the B2B industry, it’s still possible. In one study, they found that B2B purchasers are approximately 50% more likely to purchase a product or service when they see personal value — such as opportunity for career advancement or confidence in their choice — in their business purchase decision.
B2B brand storytelling can be campaigns or ads geared toward the corporate audience, like this HP ad that got lots of traction. It can also be the content you create and display on your website, such as case studies, testimonials, press releases, and social accounts.
Some companies that kill it at brand storytelling are Cisco, Google, HubSpot, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Salesforce. Take a look to see how they communicate and market to their audiences, especially at the B2B level.
Where to Begin
When you’re starting to craft your brand story, here’s three big time questions to ask:
- Who’s your audience? Hopefully you already have a pretty good idea who your target audience is. If you don’t know who you’re speaking to, you won’t be able to properly connect and pick a story that will resonate. Once you establish your ideal avatar, then you’ll be ready for the next step.
- What’s your unique selling proposition (USP)? Your USP is the why behind your brand. Why should consumers or companies buy from your brand vs. another? Unlike the value proposition, which is what you’re selling and what makes your product offerings unique, it’s more about creating emotional connection with customers. So, in other words, what’s your story? What core values and meaning are behind who you are?
- What’s your mode of storytelling? Whether it’s blog articles, podcasts, radio, social media, video, or more, you should determine how you want to tell your story. Keep in mind you don’t need to limit yourself to one medium. You can focus on a few ways to tell your story and get it out there. Consumers like to interact in different ways, so giving options can help in the long-run.
- Brand storytelling helps you stand out from the crowd, especially in crowded industries full of competition.
- Audiences crave connection today, so brand storytelling will reach out to your target audience in a meaningful way.
- For complex brands with many moving parts, stories are a great tool to condense information and get it across in a way people can relate to and grasp.
- While brand marketing is often associated with B2C brands, it’s just as important for B2B brands. In fact, it may even increase your sales by 50% according to one study.
- When you start crafting your brand story, ask yourself these questions: Who’s your audience? What’s your unique selling proposition? What’s your mode of storytelling?
- At the end of the day, storytelling is growing in popularity in the corporate world because it works. Brand marketing helps grow your reach, recognition, and results.