Stories have quickly become an indispensable tool in business today, used by an increasing number of companies as an integral element to increase online visibility and build trust with their audience. Major corporations such as Disney and Coca-Cola have recognized this power; famous brands like Disney and Coca-Cola both leverage stories about their brands to form stronger customer relationships while Apple have created captivating brand narratives which have gone on to gain cult status among customers. Thus many brand strategy consulting firms recommend their clients demonstrate success with compelling brand stories.
What constitutes an effective brand story, and how can it be authentic? More importantly, how can an authentic brand story help build customer trust?
Brand Narratives Foster Trust
Stories have long been a powerful communication tool between corporations, brands and even individuals – from corporations and brands to individuals – with compelling arguments at their core for this phenomenon. According to research, brain cells respond strongly to stories with highly descriptive power that trigger motor and sensory cortex stimulation.
Book reading helps us gain an insight into the protagonist of a tale and understand his or her thought processes more fully, known by researchers in neural coupling research as neural coupling.
Neural coupling involves both parties sharing an account, activating their brains simultaneously during storytelling process.
Mind-merging is not exactly what some researchers describe it as, though they try to describe it that way. Instead, it refers to an activity between two people that simultaneously engage in discussing stories affecting similar parts of their brains during storytelling sessions.
Researchers from Princeton University employ the “mirroring metaphor.” “Listener brain activity mirrors that of the speaker.” When done successfully, neural coupling results in greater understanding, comprehension anticipation and openness for all parties involved.
Understanding, understanding anticipation and receptivity create trust between storytellers and readers alike. A good storyteller will instil this trust by telling their tale with care to the intended audience and drawing them in with storytelling techniques that connect.
Stories build trust, but any tale won’t do. In order to build this bond between individuals, stories must contain features that promote neural connection as well as those with integrity-building qualities.
How can You Craft an Engaging Brand Story?
Your Brand Narrative Requires Personality
Brand stories differ from traditional advertisements in that they must draw inspiration from both the persona of the brand and author to craft captivating narratives that engage readers and keep their interest. A monotone narration will fail to do this while stories that feature vivid personalities may hold more appeal for readers.
Thus, your narrative shouldn’t center around one singular figure who fills your company with energy; rather it should highlight how many individuals contribute, collaborate, and drive success and growth together.
Personality drives narrative: the storyline doesn’t just revolve around one’s life story; rather, it showcases their development with their own distinctive voice and unique narrative voice.
People trust one another. To build this trust with customers, your personality narrative should present an authentic persona they can identify with and trust.
Maintain Simplicity in Your Brand Narrative
Buffer’s story is straightforward. While its inception is described in great detail, the overall concept remains simple:
Research and experience confirm the efficacy of simpler narratives as more successful. While we might appreciate the intricate plot of Harry Potter, its complex model cannot be integrated into our brand’s narrative – success lies in simplicity.
Every story starts from its roots; therefore, this three-tier model accurately illustrates their natural progression: beginning, middle and ending.
- Define Your Problem: Start by outlining what issue it was you wanted to resolve.
- Solution: Write out how you solved the issue.
- Finally, take pride in what this project has accomplished and be thankful.
Readers expect narratives to follow this format; after all, every story has to start somewhere! Don’t you agree?
However, care must be taken when approaching the final. It should not feel like the end of an expedition rather than the start of something new.
Complex stories may be harder for audiences to trust. According to experience from some of the biggest brands, intricate narratives may require greater deliberation before garnering their trust.
Why does your business exist?
The response should be a narrative.
An answer such as, “to earn money” can be too limiting of an answer. Your company might indeed be making profits; that is commendable. But why does your brand exist in the first place and what motivates it?
Answer to this question lies within telling the tale.
TOMS shoes is founded upon its mission: making lives better through shoes. TOMS’ “One for one” philosophy states that for every pair purchased, TOMS donates one pair as part of its mission to enrich lives and alleviate suffering.
Their story highlights the main motivations for their company’s existence while creating confidence among discerning customers who ask “why should I purchase from your store.” If they can find an answer that addresses their question with real stories that demonstrate your authenticity and dedication to client care, you have won their trust and established rapport.
Utilise Your Narrative to Connect with Your Customers
At its core, telling a narrative isn’t really about your business – its main aim should be fostering customer relationships through communication.
Your story should demonstrate to clients that “we understand you, and are similar in many ways”.
Storytelling can provide the same level of engagement that few other mediums can.
North Face connects with active and adventurous individuals through its brand story that emphasizes outdoor exploration and adventure. Their motto: ‘Never give up exploring.’ Their narrative conveys this ideal.
Customers looking to become part of this story will be able to connect with North Face’s history and traditions.
When your story resonant with those you are trying to reach, you build trust and achieve success.
Customers Purchase Part of a Narrative but Not the Actual Product
When your client purchases the product you sell, they should feel as though they are purchasing part of your brand’s narrative.
Patagonia provides an effective example of this. They use “worn wear” to describe clothing they have sold over time; both these clothes as well as customer purchases form the narrative for the brand.
Storytelling through products is the ideal approach, as customers buy into the narrative associated with your brand when they make their purchase decision.
Customer is at the core of your story; therefore they trust it implicitly. Customer is now part of your narrative – literally!
Get Other People to Narrate Your Brand Story
At its core, narrative writing takes care of itself: when written properly and shared widely enough with readers who enjoy and are engaged by it. There are ways, however, to increase virality of your narrative story:
- Establish Your Personal Brand. Just as stories contain many layers, so too should your story. Working alongside your team, create your personal branding to increase visibility through this strategy.
- Engage with social media. Stories will be spread via its power and reach; extracts or anecdotes shared may be retweeted, liked and explained over time; thus building up a reputation within public social consciousness.
- Tell the tale everywhere. Your narrative should form part of who you are as an individual and company. Make your voice heard with it – whether writing guest articles, using corporate video production services, creating biographical sketches or Tweeting your experiences about what’s been happening; giving it prominence will ensure its power stays with its listeners. Also think about who your target market may be when creating narratives.
- Encourage your customers to tell your story for you! Customer testimonials can be one of the most effective means of communicating your narrative, with customers themselves experiencing the problem/solution/success progression and being impressed by your company if their experience goes well. Publish these stories on your website or other marketing materials as they’ll reinforce its narrative.
- Promote storytelling across the board. When your brand becomes mainstream, its story will become part of public consciousness and no truthful account should be kept from public view about its history.
Ben Silbermann, co-founder of Pinterest offers an inspiring example of successful brand storytelling. Though reserved and soft-spoken himself, Ben narrates his story with passion and sincerity; as his team and him told it in turn, their audience increased.
Narratives can be an effective tool for building trust. Hearing your story repeated across different locations builds up people’s faith in you and strengthens their belief in it; when they begin telling their own version of it themselves, their confidence only increases further.
Improving as a Brand Storyteller
Brand narratives can be an effective way to foster trust, but how do you create one that resonates?
Focus on Personalisation Brand narratives should feature both the image of the brand and writer as primary elements in telling its tale.
Make Your Narrative Straightforward To make sure that the best possible experience, research has indicated and experienced confirms this trend.
- Determine Your Brand’s Purpose Examine Why Your Brand Exists What are the motives of the brand you’re promoting? A narrative, such as TOMS’ “one in one”, should provide the answer.
- Connect With Customers: Your stories show how you interact with and get to know your clients.
- Customers Should Purchase Your Story, Not Only Products: When customers buy from your company, they should feel as if they’re purchasing part of its story and culture.
- Inspire Others to Tell Their Stories: Invite customers from various cultures and languages to tell their own tale in their native tongue.
- Narratives can be powerful tools, but be wary of becoming too invested in one.
- Be mindful that narrative provides the framework of how your company manages its life, rather than becoming an obstacle or barrier to growth. Narrative should serve as an impulsive factor rather than become trapped by its own story arc; some brands can become so preoccupied with their narrative that they forget its importance in current activations; it is important that history can still be respected while remaining present in present activations efforts.
Narrative is the art of telling stories. The most compelling ones keep evolving over time and connect with their audience, so make sure yours stays alive by providing customers with exceptional experiences that enhance the narrative of your brand.
Your personal history can help create trust between parties; however, only time-tested experiences will cement lasting faith in a meaningful manner.
Do you want to develop your brand’s story to build trust and establish loyalty among its customers? Now is the time to craft its unique narrative!