One of the best and most exciting methods of breathing life into your brand, and adding excitement to your content marketing approach, is storytelling. While brand storytelling is not a new concept, the growth of social media and content marketing opportunities have given professionals additional platforms for telling their stories — opening the door for storytelling to reach new pinnacles of importance in the big picture of marketing.
Personal Branding is about identifying and then communicating what makes you You; in other words, what makes you unique and relevant to your target audience, so that you can reach your career and/or business goals. Personal branding is very powerful because it sends a clear, consistent message about who you are and what you have to offer. If you can understand and differentiate your personal story, and how it connects to your core values as well as that of your target audience, you can use this information to separate yourself from your competitors and really stand out.
Storytelling does in fact blend in beautifully with all things personal branding without in any way cheapening, distorting or compromising its founding principles or values. Our personal and professional biographies are indeed stories waiting to be told in the best possible light; and connecting with someone else’s story and even presenting our own is often an experience that does not leave us indifferent and contributes to our growth. In a remarkably clever and practical way, storytelling is also a wonderful addition to any deserving CV or résumé. Indeed, lack of storytelling is one of the hurdles to establish a credible personal brand.
Now, while every organization will use storytelling in a slightly different way, the four tips below can help any entrepreneur engage and connect with their prospects and customers.
- Make sure you and the story are authentic.
In brand storytelling, honesty is of the up most importance. While you are crafting stories, they should be firmly based in fact — in the reality of your own brand and industry. If your brand stories are dishonest, or even inconsistent, they will confuse consumers who will automatically turn away from the brand without even knowing why. Be creative, but do not move too far from your ultimate promise to your customers.
Honesty is always the best policy, even when you are trying to be a creative storyteller. whether you’re the protagonist, antagonist or just a supporting player, you should always be a storyteller. Never make yourself the whole story. The storyline and message must always be clear and delivered earnestly with no gratuitous commercialization or unnecessary distractions.
- Stay focused on the storyline.
Short is better than long, simple is better than complicated and less is always more. It’s been said a million times and the same holds true with stories. Don’t wander in the story and don’t add irrelevant details. Infuse every word of the story with personality and zest, to achieve something unique. Remember why you’re telling the story in the first place.
Metaphors are great, but don’t simply offer them up for the sake of symbolism. Comparisons are delightful when they are relevant and plausible, but they should always improve the message, not distract from it. An authentic personal brand stems from what makes you unique, using the metaphor of a person’s inner voice to represent that.
- Follow Common Rules of Story Writing
When you were taking an elementary level writing course, you learned that fiction stories should include an introduction, middle and conclusion. Brand stories should be no different.
Use a strong opening to introduce your characters and establish setting. This should capture the attention of your audience and maybe hint at what problems may be faced in the story.
The middle portion of the story should further set up the problem, share all aspects of the conflict and present any potential solutions. This is where the “meat” of the story takes place and where you can draw your audience in and keep them coming back for more.
Finally, the conclusion includes a resolution and perhaps hooks your reader to a “new” story or arc in your brand marketing efforts.
The best brand stories often use perpetual marketing efforts. This involves leaving your audience wanting more to keep them coming back for more. Like the movie that leads into the sequel or the promo for the television show that “hooks” watchers into checking out the next episode, draw in consumers and keep them around.
Social media is an excellent tool for this. Encourage your audience to follow your social media accounts where you can keep them enthralled between storylines. Not only will you have the immediate benefits, but you are building those social media followers — something that will pay off in the long run too!
Like any type of marketing or brand-building effort, providing consumers with a number of brand experiences gives them the best opportunity to find some way of connecting with the brand.
Provide multiple ways to engage with your brand story and you will find consumers are more likely to fall in line with your plans for them.