5 Rules for Successful Brand Storytelling

Brand story is critical. It defines why your brand exists and why people should care about you enough to listen and engage. But, often, this is  where companies stumble. The art of storytelling is the art of audience engagement, and though you might be good at building a product or providing a service, you may not be good at talking about it.

Once your brand story and positioning are defined and aligned internally, it’s time to share it with your external audiences—including stakeholders, partners, clients, and customers. But how, when, and why you tell your story will matter as much as the story being told. A powerful story is neutralized if the way you share it is at odds with the brand. If you lose attention, it’s a good bet you’ve lost audience.

What to do? Here are five major points to consider when developing your storytelling strategy.

Successful Storytelling Is Research Based

Great storytelling has to be based on the fundamental brand story. That’s why, at TopRight, we focus on the creating a powerful six-second story first. In just a few words, we capture what the client’s brand is about: why they do what they do, what they do, and how they do it.

But don’t be deceived. Devising a six-second story is a lot of hard work that takes time and research. First, spend the time it takes to really define your ‘why’. Your why drives should motivate every business decision, not just your six-second story.

Then, learn what people are saying about you, whether it’s through customer interviews, data analytics, or market research, and find a way to understand whether your story makes sense to them.

Above all, stay familiar with the fundamental research that created your brand story to begin with.

Successful Storytelling Is About Timing

Share of mind is a tough thing to get in today’s attention economy, so in order to earn it your story must be worthy of other people’s time. There are certain moments, events and even times of day that have proven to generate higher engagement rates for certain products or brands. Be aware, they may vary by industry and audience.

No matter how good and compelling your story is, no one will listen if it’s told at the wrong moment.

Successful Storytelling Is About Delivery

When it comes to storytelling, everything communicates. And I mean everything.

Your brand voice must be consistent on your website, email campaigns, social media posts, blogs, advertising and print media. This holds especially true for storytelling through media, like TV, radio, or podcasts, as well as with spokespeople, online influencers, and other public figures. Storytelling experts understand the audience as well as the need to communicate with simplicity, clarity and alignment in every moment.

You wouldn’t tell a great joke—at a funeral, right? No matter how funny, you’ve obviously misread your audience. Very often, your understanding of when and how to deliver your story will make or break your brand.

Successful Storytelling Is Relationship Driven

Someone once told me that business is like “High school with money.” Storytelling is no different. To successfully get your message out there, you will have to spend some time behind the scenes, developing and establishing trust with the folks who can help you reach a wider audience.

The content itself is also important. It has to have been qualified as something the audience wants to engage in reading and sharing. If you don’t have the relationships to make this happen, start building them right away using networking, webinars, and other events.

Successful Storytelling Is About Careful Management

They say everyone’s a critic. But online, everyone is a critic with a megaphone.

From customer service incidents to online comments to iPhone-recorded mishaps, brands that interact with people (read: all brands) must have protocols in place to address moments when things get, shall we say, interesting. That means that managing your storytelling and having backup and crisis reduction plans in place, is critical.

It’s not enough to just share your story—you must be wise enough to ensure that it’s retold in the same way by other people. When you let the world get control of your story and see it through the lens of some unfortunate incident, your real brand story isn’t being told at all.

In an attention economy, marketers have to continue to inspire audiences to keep listening. If you can do that, and do it well, you set the stage for more than just mere engagement—you make way for major audience growth and brand advocacy. Thanks for reading. Sign up for our blog! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me or TopRight anytime. Visit me on LinkedIn, or, if you like, keep up with TopRight CEO Bill Fasig on Twitter for updates, commentary, and news.