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December 10, 2012

Want a Great Brand? Learn to Tell Great Stories.

Matt Vanderlinden: Brand TalkHow do you define a brand? Is it a logo? A name? Is it the product a company makes? Or is it something more than that? And why do some brands become hugely successful while others fail?

There’s not one simple answer for any of those questions, to be frank. There is, however, an approach that consistently increases the odds that your brand will find a base of consumers who’ll dig it – tell your brand story.

Why Stories Matter

Let’s revisit our first question; how do you define a brand? One of my favorite answers to that question comes from Seth Godin. He says,

‘A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.’

That definition is fantastic because it doesn’t talk about features, products, prices, packaging or distribution. It points out that, ultimately, the purchase decision comes down to emotions. Expectations, memories, stories and relationships are all emotional connections. Brands that connect on an emotional level win because they’re more valuable to consumers.

And it just so happens that one of the best tools for establishing an emotional connection with someone is-wait for it-telling stories.

It’s been proven, in fact. In 2007, the American Association of Advertising Agencies published the results of a study that compared the effectiveness of ads that told a story to ads that made logical appeals. The study concluded, ‘For the most part, ads that tell stories and engage and involve consumers create stronger emotional relevance than product-centric ads.’

Becoming a Storyteller

If you want to become really effective at telling your brand’s story, it’s going to take some planning and a lot of practice. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Define the emotional center. What’s the authentic part of your brand that’ll connect with consumers, and why is it relevant and valuable to them? Refine that into the one central idea you’re trying to communicate.
  2. Establish the mood. Create the context and attitude you want to construct around your brand’s central idea.
  3. Draft your story. Really, put it down on paper. Then revise, revise, revise. Test it out and get feedback. You’re going for short and simple, but really clear and effective. It should communicate your central idea with emotional power.
  4. Practice your delivery. A lot. In fact, you’ll probably never stop practicing. You’ll also become freakishly good at it.

If you need some inspiration to get started, check out this brief article from Mashable highlighting four brands that are really great storytellers.

Do you have a great brand story? Let’s hear yours!