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6 types of stories for powerful brand storytelling

As marketers, you know how powerful brand storytelling can be in your arsenal of tools that you use to reach and engage with your audiences. But how can it be deployed into powerful stories? We outline 6 types of stories you can use.

Brand storytelling is the act of framing the relationship between your consumers and target audiences around stories that allow them to learn about your products, services, your values, your unicity, all through one of the oldest ways of passing on information: storytelling.

Why does storytelling work?

When telling a story, we create and describe a world and an experience that readers, viewers or listeners can relate to, on a personal level, on an emotional level. They can imagine the setting, the actions and the end result because it is told using a known structure. It can impact human emotions and can even lead them to take action.

We tell stories because we believe it will be of interest to the person on the receiving end. Stories can inform, educate, entertain. Ever since we lived in caves have we told stories to one another.

This is might be why our brains are more inclined to remember a good story rather than a list of events, features or benefits. Our brain is wired to detect, analyze and remember stories.

Our brains are genetically programmed to enjoy stories, and in today’s media-saturated world, a good story is often the most effective way for marketers to grab our audiences’ attentions, as told in an HBR article.

Great storytellers are amazing experts in that they are able to get us involved in a story. They create that emotional connection that draws us in through their storytelling skills. Pixar is an example of an organization that has been able to create engaging stories for decades. You can read more about Pixar’s 22 rules for a good story, a great read that sets the stage for what makes a good story stick.

Why does brand storytelling work?

Brand storytelling works because as humans, we are wired to notice and pay attention to stories. And when we need to introduce a brand, sell, inform or influence as a brand, stories are a great way to connect with our audiences.

Research tells us that messages delivered as narratives are 22x more memorable than factual statements. With the content chaos reality we live in narratives have a greater capacity to cut through the clutter, reach consumers, and create an emotional connection. An HBR report dives deeper into that notion, making the case that emotional connection can even trump customer satisfaction.

A Hubspot article about brand storytelling outlines 4 reasons that drive us as marketers to use this narrative technique:

  1. Stories solidify abstract concepts and simplify complex messages.
  2. Stories promote and shape ideas.
  3. Stories bring people together.
  4. Stories inspire and motivate.

6 types of stories your brand can tell

As much as the benefits of brand storytelling might be obvious to marketers, we sometimes come across a certain type of problem: what are the stories my brand can tell? How can I integrate them into my marketing strategy?

Knowing which stories to share and how to share them can be incredibly difficult for companies. According to the CMI, 60 percent of B2B marketers and 55 percent of B2C marketers say that their biggest challenge is creating compelling marketing messages.

Through our years supporting brands in their storytelling initiatives, we’ve found 6 types of stories that will allow you to always have something good to tell, inspired from Mike Adam’s great book:

  1. The story of people
  2. The origin story
  3. The story of discovery
  4. The story of success
  5. The story of values
  6. The story of learning

The story of people

This type of story is an opportunity to introduce the great talent that your organization has the chance to have. This is not about presenting the corporate culture or how “everyone is a great asset,” this is about spending time discovering a single employee or team member.

What drives them? Why do they work with your organization? What makes them unique and likeable? What is their job and why are they so passionate about it?

By focusing on one single person, your brand is making the case about how important every single individual is. This is an organization that cares for their people, that wants to make them shine as much as the product or service.

It is a great connection tool to use when introducing your brand to new audiences. It works by building trust between the brand and the consumer.

And in theory, this gives you a lot of opportunities for great stories to tell.

The origin story

This is usually the first type of story that people think about when embracing brand storytelling.

“Let’s tell everyone about the history of our company.”

But this type of story goes beyond the basic timeline of when it was founded and by whom.

Audiences want to know who is behind the initial idea, but they want to learn about the “Why” of the organization.

(An essential read to work on the “Why” of your organization is Start With Why by Simon Sinek.)

Why was it created? What does it bring to the world? What was the goal it was solving? How did it evolve through time in regards to that initial “Why”?

We want to learn about the deep foundations of the foundation of this brand.

We want to care about why the company exists. Tell the authentic story of your brand, its origin story.

The story of discovery

Your organization and brand have experience. It has learned and discovered ways of working, invented processes and built unique solutions to complex problems.

These insights set your organization apart from the others. It differentiates your products and services through the way they are created, built, delivered.

The story of discovery tells your audience about these things. Things that might not be apparent from the outside, that might not be reflected in the daily use of your product or service, things that make a difference on how consumers experience what you sell.

Once again, this builds trust in your organization, in your pitch. It sets the stage on how you are different from your competitors.

The story of success

When reaching out to potential customers, case studies and testimonials are always interesting, but they are often centred around your brand, your product, your service.

A story of success is a story about the end user, the consumer and how they solved a problem they had, they succeeded, how they were better off in the end. It is not centred about your brand, although your brand is key is that journey that the consumer went through.

Your brand acted as the guide in this story. You brought the plan to the table, which allowed the main character (the consumer) to solve their problem.

This type of story is key when you want to prove that your brand has solved these problems in the past, that your product or service actually works and that you have the proof.

But be careful, don’t make it about you. Make it about your client, your loyal customer. These will make for much more compelling stories.

The story of values

More and more, audiences around the world are looking for authentic brands. Brands that have a strong brand message and that authentically present who they are and how they do what they do.

When building your core message, you will often take a look at the mission, vision and values of your brand.

These will always be a great source of inspiration for your stories.Your mission and vision will inform your origin story (see above), but you can also use your values to craft a meaningful story, with real-life examples.

Values are not only words that you have plastered on the office walls. They should inform how team members act and help current, loyal and ideal customers.

Some of these stories will sometimes live as folklore in your organization. That time when a team member went out of their way to help a customer in a way that reflected the core values of the organization. That time when employees got together to solve a complex problem.

Go beyond putting your organization’s core values on your website, tell a story about each on how these values live on a daily basis. It will not only inspire your clients, it will also inspire your teams.

The story of learning

People make mistakes. Products don’t always work. Services are sometimes not delivered the way they should be.

Things aren’t always perfect.

Embrace this and tell a story about how things once went wrong, and how your organization learned from it and that is why it will never happen again.

Your prospective customers want to be reassured.

They want to know that your organization is always learning and making things better.

And that when things do go a bit awry, you are there to resolve the problem and make things right.

Your brand learns and becomes better every single day. Tell that story.

Executing and implementing brand storytelling in your content strategy

The types of stories can live in so many ways through so many marketing channels. In a blog post, a podcast, a video, in Instagram stories, a social media post, in your content marketing initiatives, etc.

Building a story engine for your organization is not rocket science. There are many great examples of brand storytelling out there.

At Toast, we’ve brought it down to three simple steps that you can implement today in your organization:

  1. Storygathering
  2. Storyshaping
  3. Storytelling

You can read all about these in our in-depth article: Storygathering, Storyshaping, Storytelling – A 3-part process to tell brand stories.

How will these concepts inform and influence your content strategy and your marketing campaigns? How will your organization implement brand storytelling? We would love to learn more about how you will work on this. Feel free to reach out to us at anytime during the process to discuss with our storytelling experts.