In 1975, Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to co-found Microsoft and became one of the richest people in the world. Mark Zuckerberg quit Harvard in 2004 to found Facebook, quickly joining the richest people in the world club. Alex Banayan quit USC to follow his dream of interviewing the most successful people in the world to write his upcoming book “The Third Door.”
What all these men have in common, besides being too cool for school, is a brand story we can all recite from memory. When it comes to brands, logos and slogans are wonderful for a brand’s visual identity. No one can argue with the golden arches of McDonald’s, the bitten apple of Apple, and the swoosh of Nike. However, no matter how eye-catching your logo looks or how memorable your slogan is, your cool symbol has no connection to the consumer without a story attached to it. The best brands have a great story.
A brand story is a narrative that creates a feeling with your brand and an emotional connection with the consumer. It is the one thing your consumers will remember about you to differentiate you from the crowd of competitors, so it’s important to create a good one. This is why the brand stories of Gates, Zuckerberg, and Banayan leaving college to pursue their dream inspire us and make us believe their product is worth paying attention to.
Why story is important
According to former Pixar story artist and animator Matthew Luhn in his talk on storytelling, inspiring stories can sell your brand in two important ways.
1. Retain important information
If you tell people facts, after 10 minutes most people will only remember 5 percent of what you said. However, if you tell something important in story form with emotional ups and downs, the amount of information retained by the audience increases 22 fold to 65 percent.
2. Create personal connections
By using emotion, stories create a connection between you and your consumer.
“Whoever tells that impactful memorable story, we become personally connected with them and we believe them,” says Luhn.
If you want to create a great brand story, it has to go beyond the company fact sheet. You need to make your appeal authentic, emotional, memorable, and concise.
Since your brand is who you are or what your company represents, it must be authentic. Your story needs to be honest and consistent or audiences will feel manipulated. You should highlight your challenges as well as your successes. Honesty is key. If you misrepresent yourself, your consumers will know.
A good brand story makes you feel and creates a personal connection with your brand. It is this connection that breeds brand loyalty, creates a sense of transparency, and establishes trust with your clients and customers. Narratives that show how you overcome obstacles or how your company helps others are great for impact.
Finally, your story must be distinct. It cannot be like every other brand’s story. This is why stories of starting your company in a garage or quitting college to found a startup don’t move us anymore because we’ve already heard them before about Steve Jobs (starting Apple in a garage) and Zuckerberg (leaving college to start Facebook). Find the authentic elements in your distinct mission or purpose that set you apart from other companies.
To be memorable, your story must also be short. Think of your story as an elevator pitch. Too long and people will exit before the story ends. Too short and you will share an awkward silence. Keep it concise, no more than a paragraph or two. The core idea should be just a sentence anyone can remember so people will have no trouble repeating your story to others.
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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