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What if I asked you right now what your business does? And what if I told you that you only have 30 seconds to land that perfect elevator pitch? Would you be able to do it?
If you hesitated, let me tell you that this is not uncommon. You’re part of a vast group that can’t explain what their business does in a way that others understand. “Message-less-ness” is widespread. The good news is that, like other “less-ness” disorders, there’s a cure.
And what’s the cure, you ask? A healthy dose of brand story marketing.
In a world where we compete with all kinds of brands, nailing your message is critical. Having a brand story means taking your potential client on an emotional journey. It sets you apart from others and leaves a lasting impression — an open invitation to form a connection (a fan) for life.
What does this mean for your business?
How do people connect? We meet, we exchange ideas, opinions, beliefs and anecdotes. Then we tell each other exactly what we’ve been up to. In short, we share stories. It’s a primal instinct to do this when we meet new people and connect with a fellow human being. We test to know if we share the same values, likes and dislikes or convictions; to know whether we belong to the same clique.
The same goes for business. Telling and relating to each other’s stories is a foolproof way to promote a lasting and memorable connection between your brand and your customers. A brand story tells them how your business can help them, in a way that attracts everyone with the same values.
According to research by Headstream, if people love your brand story, 55% of people are more likely to buy your product in the future, 44% will share your account, and 15% will buy your product immediately. That is how important your brand story is.
To tell a great brand story, you must first understand the foundation of storytelling. Everyone knows that every great story has a beginning, middle and end. What most of us don’t know is what goes where. Even fewer people know what goes into each of these sections. May these great story architects guide us on our journey of telling a great story.
1. The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell
“The Hero’s Journey” or “Monomyth” is a standard template of stories known worldwide, based on Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
Essentially, it refers to an extensive category of stories in which a character (your customer) ventures out to get what they need, faces conflict and ultimately triumphs over adversity, guided by your brand, and then comes home changed or transformed.
The Hero’s Journey has become a staple of Hollywood movies, adventure books and story writing. This framework reflects both our personal and business journeys and how we see ourselves.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces has inspired writers across literature, music, films and video games. Perhaps most famously, George Lucas credited Campbell for influencing the structure of the Star Wars films.
The hero of your brand story is your customer. They are at the very center of a significant journey through which your business leads them. You take them out of their ordinary world and return with them, with new knowledge in hand and forever changed for the better.
By framing your story based on the Hero’s Journey template, your business can create a narrative that your customers will never forget.
2. The Story Circle, Dan Harmon
Dan Harmon’s Story Circle, a compressed version of Campbell’s the Hero’s Journey, is a story structure divided into eight distinct parts, following a protagonist’s journey. In broad strokes, it always involves a character venturing out to get what they need and then returning, having changed.
The Story Circle framework uses a narrative arc present in myths from all over the world and emphasizes how almost all forms of storytelling have a cyclical nature.
If you ever want to dissect this paradigm, look no further than Community, Rick and Morty, The Simpsons and even Doctor Strange. It’s an approach that many other writers have adopted, including IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan.
The Story Circle framework will help you put the customer first. From there, it allows them to relate to your brand and your business, as well as envision the things your products will enable them to achieve.
3. StoryBrand Framework, Donald Miller
In his book Building a StoryBrand, Donald Miller lays out the StoryBrand framework, a marketing messaging tool utilized by business leaders to clarify their message using a seven-part method that leverages story power.
Miller proposes using a Hero’s Journey framework for your marketing message and your business’s brand experience. This can help your business become an invaluable asset in your customers’ lives when used correctly. It allows companies to simplify their brand messaging by taking a story-driven approach to communication that places the customer at the center of everything.
Clarifying your message through the StoryBrand formula will, as Miller puts it, “organize your thinking, reduce your marketing effort, obliterate confusion, terrify competition and finally get your business growing again.”
Tell your authentic story
You have all the ingredients — now tell your story. Whether you’re using it to create new content or making that first impression, make sure you get real and speak your truth. Be honest about the adversity you faced and how you’re working to overcome it. People won’t relate to your ongoing success; it’s the challenging journey of chasing your goals, getting knocked down and, ultimately, finding a path toward success. Clarify your business’s message to connect with your customers personally, and in the process, grow your company and create fans.
Embracing the structure of story frameworks can be your superpower. The next time that elevator door opens up, you will have an epic story — a story that has a compelling narrative, one that places your customer at the heart of it — a tale staged with emotional experiences. Now you can distribute it across your customer’s journey to empower their lives and drive business results.