Ok, we've blogged in the past about the importance of brand story, but let's very briefly recap.
What is a brand story?
More than just stuff you put out there – logos, packaging, straplines and colours – your brand story is what people feel about your brand. It's your raison d'être – who you are, where you came from, why you're doing it, and where you're going.
Why is it important?
With more competition out there than ever, and so much consumer choice, it's vital for brands to establish an emotional connection with their audience. The best-loved brands are invariably the ones which tell their story in a powerful and resonant way. They're the brands which tell real stories, about real people – and in doing so, invoke real emotions and powerful feelings of loyalty.
Your corporate history (and why it matters)
The best brand stories are authentic and believable, and it doesn't get much more authentic than the real-life story of how your business started, and how it has grown.
The nuts and bolts of your corporate history consists of stuff like:
- Who founded your business? What was, or is, unique about them?
- Why was the business founded? What fundamental problem did it address?
- How has your business changed and evolved over time?
- How has it affected the lives of your customers?
- What are the unique passions of the people who make up your business?
- Do you have a mission statement?
- How is your business making the world a better place?
Your corporate history is the bedrock of an awesome brand story because it's truthful, it's believable, it's infused with personality, and it's a story that's developed, and continues to develop, over time.
Well-told corporate histories develop a sense of trustworthiness – they tell your audience you aren't just a flash in the pan. And they lend a face to your business. Logos and brands are great, but no one wants to have a conversation with a logo or a brand. People like people!
How to tell your story
Awesome brands tell their story in a number of different ways. Here are just a few to think about:
The Facebook 'Timeline' functionality is pretty much tailor-made for this purpose. In much the same way that you update your status, you can add 'Milestones' and post-date them, representing the various landmark events throughout the life of your business. These events, as well as all the other content on your page, forms a 'Timeline' down the right hand side, which users can use to walk through your history year-by-year. It's a really cool feature.
Of course, this is amazing if you have decades of history behind your brand, like the guys at Wells Fargo – founded in 1857, and making awesome use of the Timeline functionality to show this off.
But it's just as powerful for small businesses and startups, because you're, by definition, much closer to 'the dream' – the moment of epiphany that led to your business being set up. For example, check out Innocent Drinks' Timeline, which dates back just 15 years and does a great job on telling their corporate history (which ties up well with its quirky brand story!)
This is probably the most common method companies use to tell their story – it's pretty unusual to find a big company that doesn't do this, although it tends to be less common for younger businesses.
The 'About' page is a beautiful opportunity to tell people your brand story, and can incorporate a range of different media – great historic images, videos, and well-crafted copy that tells your story.
Some businesses go further than a simple 'About' page, opting for separate 'mini-sites' – Ford, for example, with their rich history, have put together a unique heritage site with all manner of awesome content.
Once you've isolated what's special about your corporate history, it's important to make sure that all parts of your branding are consistent. This helps keep things authentic and believable for your audience.
The people who work in your organisation are often the footsoldiers of your brand. Sharing some of the stuff that happens every day in your office on web and social media may seem dull, but it's actually a powerful tool to show people that, beneath the slick branding, there's a happy bunch of people enjoying what they do.
Mission statements are a powerful way to communicate exactly what you're looking to achieve. It's an overt way to tell your audience what your business stands for. We particularly like Nike's mission statement:
Make your customers part of it
People love to hear stories – but they also love to be part of them. Going on and on about you and your story can all get a bit preachy, so make sure your customers feel part of the movement, too.
The guys at Coke are phenomenal at this. Sure, there's the Coke history, but they never forget to give their customers a voice to talk about how the product has been an unassuming part of so many life experiences. The below quote comes from their Facebook page and is just one example of this approach.
“I first met my husband when I was a teenage soda jerk, peeking at a good-looking guy from behind a Coca-Cola machine in 1953 in Porter Drug Store, Logansport, Indiana – They were both keepers!”-Phyllis M.