"So, what's your story?"
It's a question we ask clients all the time. In fact, it's a question that people are always asking. Your story is what defines you, your values and your purpose. It creates a personal connection between you and your audience.
And in a world where consumers expect brands to stand for something, to be about more than products and profits, story matters.
As the company founder, you're inextricably linked to your brand's story. You're the one who was inspired to start this business in the first place. So what's your "why"? What sparked that passion and why your story will make that emotional connection?
Curious minds want to know. They want insight into how you came to be and why — and they want something that they can align themselves with. People want to be your fans. You just have to give them an "in". Here's how.
Give the People What They Want: A Brand Story For the Ages
English has a handful of interrogatives we call the "W" words. Journalists love them. And for this exercise, you're a journalist. To tell your brand story you need to get your who, what, why, where and when ready to go.
Who is your audience?
One of the first things you learn in Storytelling 101 is that your audience is the star of this production. Who are you telling your story to? Who are the people you're trying to reach? What do they want?
When you identify your audience you can write to them. Depending on who they are, you'll need to adjust your language, your tone and your use of emojis. If you're a serious B2B type, professional and just-the-facts may be the way to go. If you sell decorative fidget spinners to kids, then keep it casual and friendly.
Take Uber-for-spirits company Saucey. Its young, party-hard audience is all about fun and attitude. So its blend of tongue-in-cheek and seriously cheeky resonates perfectly.
Who are you?
Yes, the "who" question has two parts. That's because every story has an audience and a protagonist. Here's the thing. People get invested in stories because they relate to the people the story is about. Would you watch a movie that doesn't have a hero? Or read a book without any characters?
If you're a founder or CEO, you're that main character. You need to put your face out there and own your story. Because if your audience can connect vision with visionary, then they'll be on board. Do you think Dave's Killer Bread would've seen the same success without Dave?
Why are you in business?
Your "why" is one of your biggest selling points — and it does a lot better job of selling than a simple "what". When you have a "why" you're making an emotional appeal. You're standing behind something you believe in and you're asking consumers to join in. A powerful why is the mark of a highly inspirational brand.
Where are you going?
Brands aren't static. You've evolved and grown since inception. And everything you're doing right now is taking you in a particular direction. People love to hear an against-all-odds story and they can't get enough of underdogs taking on the big guys.
If you've got this angle to your narrative, work it. And be sure to highlight what's next — tomorrow and in the future. If it's a mission that consumers can buy into, they'll be on your side.
Take gender neutral underwear company TomboyX. They're creating an ever-expanding line of undergarments that aren't defined by gender — and they've invited their fans to share in their journey. Today, comfy briefs. Tomorrow, a world of any-way-you-want-it underwear.
What have you overcome?
Success is never smooth sailing. It has ups and downs and plenty of detours. And those things make for great stories because the challenges make the victories so much more rewarding. Maybe you completely pivoted your business idea. Or you had to change suppliers right before launch. Or a competitor ran away with your secret recipe.
These bumps make for great storytelling. They make you real, transparent and even vulnerable. They show that there are people behind the logo and the product. That you're in this for the long haul - no matter what it takes. Because when you've weathered a few storms, you're likely to weather a few more.
Gather Around, Because it's Time to Tell Your Story
So you've worked through the questions above and you've got some incredible snippets, anecdotes, and tales of woe to share. Your next step is to weave them together into an unputdownable story.
We can't promise it'll be easy. But the "W" questions will give you the framework you need to start crafting something that your audience can engage with and relate to. Your final task is to tell that story in a way that hasn't been told before. The beats may be the same. But when you overlay your own voice, your own cast and your unique journey so far, you'll have something worth reading.
So start writing — and make sure that every word is geared towards that audience you exist for.
Need help unboxing your brand's story? Book a time with StellaPop for a Brand Discovery.