Everyone loves a good story.
Just think about it this way…
It is extremely difficult for many of us to resist answering the question, “So, guess what I heard?”, when someone asks.
A good story is why we love social media, reality television, and People magazine.
Whether we are reading it on Facebook, on the Kindle, or from a website, a good story draws us in, paints a picture, and makes us want more. There is a reason so many books shoot to the top of the bestseller lists, stay there, and are followed by sequels and movies: they tell a compelling story.
A Brand Story of Self, Us, Now
Marshall Ganz is on staff at Harvard University and teaches what he calls “public narrative” at the Kennedy School of Government.
During his teaching, he emphasizes the idea of “self, us now” as it relates to public narrative. He notes that we all have a compelling story to tell, shaped by our choices and our challenges.
- Our “story of self” reveals something about us and our values, the “key shaping moments” in our lives.
- The “story of us” tells others about specific people and moments of choice that helped to shape a community.
- A “story of now” encourages others to take action and join us in carrying out a specific purpose.
So what does this have to do with storytelling as it relates to a brand? So glad you asked! Let’s delve in further.
Activating purpose is impossible without storytelling. – John Coleman
Revenue as a Byproduct
No matter what the business, blog, or product, at the end of the day, we are ultimately dealing with people. On the other end of the phone and the computer is a person who has his or her own story, who has questions and needs answers that hopefully you can give.
Neil Patel and Ritika Puri note that “human-to-human connections are the heart and soul of business.” Revenue, in whatever form that may take, is simply a byproduct of good business practices and quality customer experiences. In the midst of transactions and numbers, storytelling connects us.
Are you writing a great story? Can people in your sphere readily see what your brand is all about? Is your online presence captivating and connecting?
How to Use Storytelling in Your Online Presence
Marshal Ganz gives us some things to think about, especially as it relates to our brand’s online presence and storytelling.
While you are contemplating how it all fits together, ask yourself these questions:
1. What is my story?
With the exception of the Kardashians, most of us don’t like to talk about ourselves. Probably the people we like the most and surround ourselves with are those who aren’t self-centered and don’t ramble on about their own lives. Ganz isn’t sending a message that we need to be entirely self-focused, but rather that we highlight those moments of growth, courage, and poor choices that ultimately make us who we are.
Do you run a small business? How did you get to that point? What mistakes did you make that ended up costing you? The good, the bad, and the ugly-those are the moments to which we can all relate.
2. What is my community?
Who is your audience? Whether you are a motivational speaker, a small business owner, or a student leader, you have a community. It’s made up of your audience, your customers, your classmates, and even your family.
In telling the “story of us,” we are relaying the message of the “why”- why we are writing, why we are creating a product, why we are studying. What shapes this community? Somewhere in there is a common need or search for answers, and maybe even a common goal that needs to be met.
3. What is our purpose?
When Suzy started the Poo-Pourri brand, she knew her purpose. In her words, “Poop happens, and it stinks!” Although her marketing may sound a bit stinky (as in, we’ve “got more important crap to worry about!”), her purpose was clear, and it sold.
4 million products later, these spritz sprays made for the most intimate room in the house are a hit.
Suzy knew her purpose and she mastered the art of genius storytelling, from uncouth videos to vibrant and colorful photos, she went forward with her purpose of providing a practical product for a need we all have.
It’s All About the Audience
As Patel and Puri point out, brand storytelling is not an essay about how your company came to be, a PR stunt, or tool for manipulation; it is, however, direct, transparent, and all about your customers or audience.
It’s not boring. The story has to draw people in, or they won’t want to stay.
It isn’t a single blog post. Although creative and well-written blogs are enjoyable to read, writing one isn’t necessarily conveying the story.
It is real and human and authentic. What is true about your brand or industry? That’s what people want to hear.
Take a Cue from Television
When the television show This is Us premiered in the fall of 2016, no one could have predicted how high the ratings would go. With almost 10 million viewers, the dramedy beat the rating odds, and continued to bring in the same numbers as the date of its premiere.
Why such a powerful draw? The show tells a story of 3 siblings, chronicling their lives from childhood into adulthood and back again. Viewers have been pulled into their story, and the message is clear: family is hard, but it matters. We fall, but we get back up. Everyone has issues, but at the end of the day, we come back to family.
Are You Writing a Good Story?
Storytelling involves creating a connection through writing. In order to write a good story, your audience of readers, customers, and followers must connect through real, intentional words. They are looking to find out who you are, what type of community they are a part of, and the purpose of the brand.
If you need help telling your story, Express Writers can help. Connect with us today to find out how!