Writing Your Brand Story

The quest for more business begins with your brand’s story. Brad Fay and Ed Keller, authors of  The Face-to-Face Book, tell us that brands that get talked about are brands that are more likely to be purchased. That’s the power behind word-of-mouth marketing. But which brands get talked about?

To our way of thinking this is where word-of-mouth strategy needs to begin: What is a brand’s story, and why should someone want to talk about it?
~ Ed Keller and Brand Fay

People like to tell stories and if you want to be part of the conversation, you should have a story. Rather, you already do have a story, it just needs to be written.


“Why?” You ask? It’s all about the emotional connection. Brands are relationships between businesses and consumers, relationships are built on emotions. When you lay out your story, you are able to create an emotional connection with consumers. If you don’t believe me, then believe the research. Over at Neuromarketing, Roger Dooley writes:

“stories are more effective at changing emotional beliefs that logical arguments have difficulty reaching.”

We know that people purchase things emotionally despite their logical reasons for doing so. It’s time to build that word-of-mouth marketing tool called your brand story. As you read through the rest of the article, answer each of the fill-in-the-blank questions with short answers. Then, simply write your brand story in about 15 minutes. You can always go back and refine it. But first get the story on paper.

Getting Started

Let’s start with your essence, the thing that makes you interesting. Why would someone want to talk about you? Just boil it down to a word or short phrase:

We go to hell and back for our customers.


Our customers are our family.

What is your essence?

Characteristics of an Effective Brand Story

As we know, not all stories are created equal. The most effective stories have certain characteristics that seduce the audience into wanting more.

1. Narrative Delivery – A good story has pacing, characters and drama.

2. Imagery – Best-selling author Barry Eisler advises that you “show don’t tell.” Use descriptive imagery rather than an adjective or adverb.

3. Realism – Believability is incredibly rare in the current age of marketing. Don’t paint your brand story with customers who would do unbelievable things to do business with you.

4. Structure – Maybe J.J. Abrams can get away with starting a movie in the middle, but for your brand story, give it a beginning, a middle and an end sprinkled with a dash of suspense.

Who are the main characters of your story?
What is the drama that will unfold (a conflict that will be resolved)?  ________________
What happens in the beginning of your story? ________________
The middle? ________________
The end? ________________

A Successful Brand Story

Over on Forbes, Marketer Phil Johnson, says this about writing your story

The best stories represent a simplicity of purpose and tap into the audience’s imagination so that they willingly go along for the journey.

Maybe you can’t weave a story like Hemmingway, but Johnson gives these suggestions to writing a good one:

  • If your story does not reveal something personal and unknown about the person or brand, it’s going to be boring.
  • If your story does not tap into a specific emotion – whether it be fear, desire, anger, or happiness – it will not move people to action.
    (Identify at least two emotions you want to tap)
  • If your story does not take people on a journey where there is a transformation between the beginning, middle, and the end, it’s not a story.
    (What’s the journey? What’s the transformation?)

(hat tip: John Bell)

What is something personal or unknown you can reveal about you or your brand? That something should be notable.
What emotion do you want to evoke from your customers? ________________
What is the journey? What transformation will happen?  ________________

Writing The Story

Now, simply take the information you’ve written for the questions above and write out a simple brand story. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed, no one will see it but you. Just like a first manuscript, it can be edited and improved, but you need that first manuscript.

When you are finished, that story will serve as the foundation of all your marketing. You can then weave elements of the story into all advertising, as well as conversations with your customers.

Now, for some inspiration. Published brand stories are rare, but this video from Google is one of the best. They use a story to tell their brand story.

What’s yours?

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