Brand Story: A Definitive Guide to Brand Storytelling
When we hear a well-crafted story, our brain lights up and responds as if we were reliving the story ourselves. Engaging narratives help us process information, remember facts, and bond with the characters. Stories evoke empathy and make us feel more connected with other people.
Compelling brand stories build trust, increase customer loyalty, and inspire engagement. Today’s customers are interested in what your business stands for, not just the services you offer or the quality of your products. That’s why every brand needs to tell its story.
In this guide, you’ll find out what brand storytelling is, learn how to write a brand story that stays on your customer’s mind, and discover inspiring examples of brand stories.
What is a brand story?
A brand story represents your company: it describes your business idea, explains your brand’s mission and vision, and portrays the people who run the company.
Your company story should clarify what you do, how you do it, and most importantly why you do it.
How to write a brand story?
There’s no formula for a winning brand story because every business is unique. However, there are some golden rules: be honest, have a clear structure, and highlight important facts about your brand. The most compelling brand stories evoke an emotional reaction in their readers.
Stay true to your experience, beliefs, and values. Instead of copying someone else’s story, consider what’s special about your brand and try to convey that to your audience. The truth always comes out in the end, so it’s better to be honest from the start.
Your brand story should be reflected throughout your customer’s journey. For example, if you say that you started your business to save the rainforest, then:
- What are you actually doing to save the rainforest?
- Do you donate to charity?
- Do you sell eco-friendly products?
Make sure your brand story and mission reflects through your behaviours and customer touchpoints.
Have a clear structure
Plan the structure of your brand story. This helps you create a cohesive picture of your business and keep your audience engaged. You can decide whether to tell the story from a chronological point of view or divide it in thematic blocks that each focus on a different aspect of your business.
Remember that you have to open with something that people want to read—you have to hook your audience. The chronological structure will work best if there’s something interesting about the way your business started.
Start with introducing your business. After the intro, move on to the body of the text—describe your mission and vision, the values that drive you forward, and other distinctive information about your business. End the story with a conclusion.
Highlight important facts
To keep your audience enthused, don’t dwell on plain data and insignificant details about your business. Instead, share valuable insights, interesting incidents, and unique facts.
To decide what’s important and what’s not, use the “replace the brand name” trick:
- Write down a fact about your business
- Replace the name with a different brand
- Read it again
If you don’t care about it, rephrase the fact—think about what makes it interesting from a customer’s perspective. Try thinking about the benefits, not the features—how does your brand help your customer? Why does the audience need your product or service?
To help you focus on what’s important, we’ve comprised a list of storytelling essentials. When crafting your brand story, keep these 4 C’s in mind:
1. Conflict—the problem you solve for your customers
Every story needs a conflict. If you analyzed well-known brand stories, you’d quickly notice that most of them portray a problem and a solution that the brand provides for their customers.
Stories need adversaries to build suspense and prompt the audience to read until the end. Imagine Little Red Riding Hood without the Big Bad Wolf or Snow White without the Evil Queen.
If there’s no problem, there’s no
Let’s look at KeepCup, an Australian-based company that aims to reduce disposable coffee cup waste.
Problem: The KeepCup founders grew concerned about the volume of packaging waste their café and customers generated daily. As they searched for more sustainable alternatives, they learned that most reusable cups were unpleasant to hold and drink from.
Solution: After 4 years of research, they created a unique design of reusable cups that was introduced to reduce waste.
2. Characters—the people behind the brand
A powerful brand story has to be authentic and honest. Most importantly, it has to be human. Just like any other story, your brand story needs characters.
Don’t hesitate to give your brand a personality. Use a range of content types to widen your reach and capture your audience’s attention. Share behind-the-scenes content, host short employee interviews, or showcase your sense of humor.
Here at Printful, we do a little bit of everything. Even though we have a page where everyone can read our story, we prefer communicating our values and beliefs directly to our audience through engaging content.
Since we believe in helping our customers grow, we often share useful marketing advice on social media.
Showing your human side makes your company more relatable and inspires customer loyalty. When it comes to brand storytelling, remember one simple thing:
3. Community—involving customers in your story
The more your brand resonates with your customers, the more likely they are to keep coming back, interact with your brand, and share your content. That’s why successful brands make customers a part of their brand story.
Some businesses address social issues like gender inequality, climate change, or discrimination through their brand stories. Others simply bring together individuals with shared interests or hobbies.
The well-known (and yummy!) ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s has taken a stance on most major social issues. The brand advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, promotes racial justice, and sources ethical products. They established the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to give back to the community, engage employees in philanthropy, and support grassroots activism.
Ben & Jerry’s activism is visible both on their website and social media. By addressing social injustices and encouraging change, they become relatable to everyone who cares about the same issues.
Here are some other ways to make customers part of your company story:
- Interact with your audience: respond to comments and reviews, republish content your customers generate about your products, and listen to your customers’ opinion
- Write a newsletter, start a blog, or make videos to share stories with your audience
- Address a social cause that’s important to you and your customers
There are plenty of other ways to include your customers in your brand story. Experiment and find out what works best for your business. However, keep in mind—everything you do should be aligned with your brand’s values, mission, and beliefs.
4. Confidence—take pride in your brand story
Not every visitor will hit that About Us button on your website to learn what your business stands for. In fact, if that page is the only place where your brand story comes into the picture, you’re in trouble.
Your brand story should run through every step your customer takes while interacting with your brand. That means communicating your core brand values through product descriptions, marketing copy, visual materials, and public announcements.
Take, for example, the outdoor clothing and equipment company Fjällräven. The brand is committed to making nature more accessible and they aim to inspire interest in outdoor life.
Fjällräven’s brand story is proudly communicated through different mediums. The brand’s mission and values are featured throughout their website and social media.
On Instagram, Fjällräven often share astonishing nature pictures contributed by their followers. The brand launched a global trekking event Fjällräven Clasic in 2005 and transformed it into an online trekking channel during 2020.
Every brand story is unique, including yours, so be proud of it. Share your vision and purpose with your audience at every stage of their journey with you.
Inspiring brand storytelling
If you look at Printful customers, you can find brand stories from all around the globe, each with a unique history. Let’s analyze two of them in more detail.
Gay Pride Apparel is a first generation Mexican-American and LGBTQ+ owned brand focused on empowerment and authenticity for year-round pride. Their brand story is visible throughout their website, marketing, social media, and product designs.
Characters: The founders, Jesus and Sergio met in elementary school, continuing their friendship all throughout their school years. After college, they realized they were in love.
Conflict: The owners of Gay Pride Apparel are passionate about their community. Since they saw a lack of pride products available year-round, they decided to take matters into their own hands. Now Jesus and Sergio sell items that promote LGBTQ+ rights year-round.
Community: Gay Pride Apparel partners with non-profits, artists, and more to promote their art and services. The brand also donates $1 from every order to a non-profit that the customer chooses themselves. By purchasing Gay Pride Apparel items, customers become a part of their brand story.
Confidence: Gay Pride Apparel promotes acceptance and equality for all with apparel, social media, and everything else in between. They have an ever-growing list of LGBTQ+ focused resources available at all times and feature diverse stories in their blog.
The brand Seanese is a great example of building a brand community and marketing for a social cause. Seanese’s brand story is visible throughout their marketing efforts and their website.
Characters: Sean McElwee is the owner of Seanese. He’s also one of the stars of an Emmy-winning show Born This Way, an influencer with 20k+ followers, and has been featured on Spectrum News, Yahoo, and NowThis. Sean is the face of his brand and wants to inspire people with his designs. He speaks about his life and experiences to encourage others to dream big.
Conflict: When Sean was little his parents had to translate his speech because nobody could understand him. They said he spoke “Seanese.” Now he’s putting his thoughts and catchphrases on shirts so everyone can speak Seanese. He wants the world to know that having Down syndrome isn’t that big of a deal.
Community: Marketing for a cause—the brand donates $1 from each item they sell to donate baby onesies to Down Syndrome Associations around the country. Seanese just donated 387 baby onesies to 18 Down Syndrome Associations in 16 states. By purchasing items from Seanese, each customer becomes a part of their brand story as well.
Confidence: In his About Me page, Sean shares his mission and vision. Sean’s brand story can be seen throughout his website, social media, and advertising. The brand story and community is featured in their designs. His cause is clear to anyone visiting his website, reading about him in the news, or listening to one of his keynote speeches.
Brand storytelling is one the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand and build a bridge between you and your audience. Share your core values, beliefs, and mission. Be honest, real, and transparent—your customers will appreciate that.
Now that you know how to write your brand story, learn how to write an About Us page that rocks and proudly show off your brand identity throughout your website and social media.
This article was originally published in March 2018; it has since been updated.