How to create a brand story that connects and sells
By Shana Lynn Yao
The key to all transformative brand stories is to make sure they connect to your target audience’s emotions, so it moves them into action to take the next step closer to you.
All marketing, after all, is communication that gets results. It's not about a large email list or social media following that transforms brands. It's intentional communication designed to create a reaction. An emotional reaction that connects your brand to your client’s wants and needs.
This is done through your brand story. Without a brand story foundation, your messaging is unable to connect to the part of the human brain that makes all decisions - our own emotional brains. A brand story that connects and sells is one that transforms your vision into your brand’s mission and purpose, and THAT is the foundation of all great brands.
The first step in creating your brand story is to get very clear on your own vision.
Whether you are your own personal brand or a large corporate company, a powerful brand story instills a bigger purpose that is beyond the product or service you offer. Just like how Steve Jobs transformed the Apple brand to it’s iconic status, he did so with his own perspective of the world and the vision he had for his customers, which connected to the emotions of his target customers.
To create clarity in your vision, you need to know:
What you do (specifically, what you and your product/service that is different than what is being offered in the marketplace).
What do you want to be known for?
Who are the people that need that that you want to help?
What caused you to want to create this brand? (This is transformed into your mission in your brand story)
What is the vision you have for people when they experience your product/service?
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial-run brands are innovators. It’s your own personal vision, formed from a problem or solution you have uncovered in your own life that solves the problem in your target customer’s lives. And this is where many people go wrong. They try to fit their solution into a customer need or want that exists FIRST. Instead, it’s the other way around.
Emotion comes from your own vision. Your passion and purpose create a brand story that is authentic, visionary, and emotional. Your brand story is what then identifies your target audience and is the transformative message that creates an iconic brand.
Creating Authentic Influence Through Emotional Connection
The key to creating a successful brand story that will influence your customers, is to understand your audience - who are they and what is their urgent need that you solve?
Oftentimes people use the term “customer avatars”. What I’ve found as a Brand Story Strategist, is that when a brand DE-HUMANIZES a customer by speaking about them in a generic way, they lose their own connection to the customer. This results in confused messaging, pursuing impulsive and expensive marketing tactics, and while it can work, it forces the brand to compete on general and low value things like pricing, social status, and other very difficult problems to overcome.
By humanizing your customer - realizing they are a living, breathing person who, just like you - someone who has real problems and emotions - you can create raving fans with your brand story. That is what develops true influence and word of mouth marketing.
Some questions to ask yourself:
Who is my audience?
What are the problems they face in their lives that are similar to ones I have the vision to solve?
What keeps them awake at night? What are their worries and fears?
If they had a fairy godmother, what is the wish they would want granted?
What do they Google when they are looking for answers?
Marketing that authentically connects through emotions is real value that translates into sales and long term customers.
Using a combination of images, videos, and effective copywriting that tells your brand story in creative ways, can produce a reaction IF they are really connecting to those emotions.
And that will happen when two things are in place:
1. There is context.
2. The emotions of the reader are engaged
Here are some questions to ask yourself to make sure you are delivering what your ideal clients want and need. Remember, at the root of it is whatever you share needs to be based on EMOTION.
How is it different than other people in my industry?
What is the emotional response you want your story to communicate?
How does your video or image translate that emotion? Over 90% of all communication is visual.
What is the ACTION or REACTION I want from the viewer?
People make decisions from their EMOTIONAL brain. You can throw statistics, facts and pretty pictures at them all day long - but unless you have the emotional trigger, they won’t pay attention to you. And without attention, you can't get them to buy or follow you. You may be AN answer but not THE answer.
My clients hire me and tell me “I don’t know what led me to you but I knew I had to work with you”. It’s a connection. A vibration. An emotional, gut reaction based on emotion.
Everyone has that power, and when you understand your own emotional drivers, you can then understand those of your customers.
Identify Their Core Values
Your core values are what you stand for. It’s the non-negotiable beliefs that you have, transformed into the values of your brand. These core values demonstrate the vision and ideals your brand holds. It’s your perspective on the ideals you uphold as a purposeful brand.
In today’s competitive marketplace, a company’s core values can become the reason people buy from you, follow you, and rave about you. They hold a vision for your target audience that communicates their own beliefs - and by buying, using, and championing you - it is a “status” symbol of sorts that shows people who they are.
As a brand strategist, I recommend that every brand communicate your values on your website. It’s a easy way to spell out who you are with a simple few lines, that communicates who you are, who you are speaking to, and why they should buy from you instead of your competitors.
Examples of core values include:
Eco-friendly and sustainable
Passionate and fun
There are so many more, but overall, you, the founder’s beliefs should dictate your brand’s core values.
Your Brand Story (in a nutshell)
Once you have your brand story, you can create the messaging of your brand (think of this as your elevator pitch, the bio in your social media, and the lasting impression you leave people with long after they have met you.
1. Tell them the one thing they need to remember about you after you leave.
2. What is the urgent problem you solve - the thing you’re so passionate about you could shout it from the roof tops and want to be known for?
3. What you do better than anyone else.
For example, my message if I were to meet you in an elevator would be - “You know that vision you have for your business and life but can’t seem to put into words? That’s what I do. I help purposeful entrepreneurs create clarify their vision, and transform their life story into their brand story and strategy, that connects and sells.
That’s my message, what is yours? Here is my challenge to you - what is your message you want to change the world with? What has your life led you to do that transforms lives, makes an impact, and leaves people better because of you? Share it in the comments below!