Using Your Brand Story to Connect with Your Audience [+ Examples]

The elevator dings, alerting the overzealous tourist that they’ve officially ascended the Empire State Building. They step out onto the observation deck and grab the binoculars, eager to pan across the legendary view of New York City. Unfortunately, the focus dial is broken and everything is blurry. No matter how hard they squint, they can’t make out the details. That’s underwhelming. They walk away completely dissatisfied… so much for a bucket list landmark.

This is exactly how your audience feels when they interact with an underdeveloped brand that misses the mark. Thankfully, Moxie can help. We recently did a deep dive into your brand personality (we even had a fun quiz for you to fill out). Now that you know what makes your brand different and how you want to be perceived, you’re ready for the next step. In today’s post, we’re going to talk about your brand story, so buckle up!

What’s a brand story and why does it matter?

First of all, what do we mean when we talk about your “brand story?” According to our friends at HubSpot, it “recounts the series of events that sparked your company’s inception and expresses how that narrative still drives your mission today. Just like your favorite books and movies’ characters, if you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will remember who you are, develop empathy for you, and, ultimately, care about you.” These details might not seem important at first, especially when you’re busy thinking about revenue. But that mindset is what causes businesses to miss the mark.

Your brand story correlates to your revenue. And there’s data to prove it. When people connect with a brand story, 55% are more likely to buy the product in the future, 44% will share the story with their friends, and 15% buy the product immediately. Just think about the broken binoculars at the top of the Empire State Building and the unhappy tourist. Now, let’s imagine they were able to turn the dial, snapping the city scape into focus. The view is breathtaking; in fact, it’s impressive enough that the tourist can’t stop raving about it to all their friends.

Your brand is the view of the city and your brand story is the dial. So, let’s bring your brand into focus.

What makes a good brand story?

A good brand story has three core elements: It’s simple, sincere, and significant.

Simple – Your brand story follows the same formula of any story — it needs a beginning, middle, and end (with some conflict to spice it up, of course). In other words: Problem, solution, results. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Unfortunately, many brands think of their brand story as a history lesson. Instead, think of it as a window to who you are, an engaging vehicle to drive understanding and awareness of your mission and vision.

Significant – People buy with their hearts, not their minds; your brand story needs to evoke emotion to be memorable. Remember what you learned in creative writing: Show don’t tell. Your brand story isn’t a list of facts about your company. It should either educate or inspire your audience. How does your company positively impact the lives of people around you? How does it make the world a better place? Why do you deserve your audience’s attention and loyalty? A brand story that answers these questions encourages empathy and builds trust with your audience.

Sincere – We’ve talked a lot about authenticity. In order to connect with your audience, it’s crucial that your brand story feels sincere. Hubspot reminds us that perfection is unrelatable, even boring; it’s much more realistic to struggle and eventually triumph. “Conflict is key to telling compelling stories. So be transparent about the adversity your company has faced, and own it. The more honest you are about your shortcomings, the more people will respect you and relate to your brand.” Be transparent and give your customers a reason to cheer for you.

What are some examples of good brand stories?

Although data and ROI are popular marketing buzzwords, storytelling remains at the top of the list (content is still king after all). When you look at some of the strongest brands out there, it isn’t a coincidence that they have simple, sincere, and significant brand stories. Let’s talk about two of our favorites: Dove and Coca Cola.

Dove – The “Real Beauty” campaign of 2004 arguably shifted the entire beauty industry. Dove’s campaign was much more than a group of advertisements; by challenging and exposing the industry’s façade, the company successfully inspired a community of women to embrace their “flaws” and see their own worth. Powerful, right? Take a look at the language on their “About” page.

Their brand story lives beyond their Real Beauty campaign; it exists in recent articles, in their vision statement, and in their pledge to help end systematic racism. They’re continuing to try to make the world a better place. Now that’s a brand story with real significance. (And it's one of the reasons I have a bottle of Dove body wash in my shower right now!)

Coca Cola – Coca Cola doesn’t just sell soda; it promotes happiness and human connection. It’s no secret that Coca Cola has strong marketing and an impeccable brand. Although we could spend hours analyzing their advertising campaigns, we’re going to take a look a public letter written by CEO, James Quincey instead. Here’s an excerpt:

“As a good number of people have noted, Beverages for Life had a fuzzy connection to the company’s existing mission and vision, and it left the company’s purpose unclear. Our objective now is to lay out a version 2.0 – and to give context to each piece and their connections…So please take time to consider the material. Questions welcome!”

Remember how we just talked about transparency and not shying away from honestly discussing shortcomings? Quincey didn’t have to publish a letter detailing Coca Cola’s messaging adjustments — in fact, most companies probably wouldn't. However, this statement coupled with the invitation to open dialogue is a sincere gesture that reinforces their core values.

How do you tell your brand story?

Remember, Dove and Coca Cola have had decades to perfect their brand stories.

Your brand story needs to be simple, significant, and sincere. How do you achieve that? Three simple steps:

1. Know your audience

2. Know your brand

3. Tell your story

Understand what motivates your buyers, their pain points, and their emotional connections. Since they’re your target audience, your product or service should solve their problems. And since you understand their emotional connections, you can tell your story in a way that resonates with them. Maybe it’s an infographic or an eBook. It could be a how-to video or a testimonial. You might choose a white paper or a case study. No matter the medium, remember the binoculars at the top of the Empire State Building. Don’t forget to turn the dial for your audience — show them what brings your brand to life.

Need help telling your brand story? Sometimes the blank page is a little daunting. Give us a shout, Moxie would love to help!