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How Stories Help Customers Connect with Brands

Once, when I was a teen, I got a terrible bloody nose about 5 miles up a canyon with no service. Since I was on a run, I was stuck with no one to call and no easy way down. The blood was all over my face and shirt (after just a few seconds, I looked like I was an extra in a horror movie), and after assessing the irreparable damage to my shirt, I just stopped trying to stem the flow altogether.   

I counted over 30 cars that passed me by with looks of mild surprise or pity, but no one stopped. Eventually, a cyclist stopped and asked if I needed anything – and after I assured him it was just a nose bleed, he went on his way. Several minutes later, I saw that same cyclist coming down the hill with a handful of white.  

Turns out, he veered off the road into a neighborhood, knocked on doors until someone gave him some paper towels, and road the 2+ miles back down to where I was.   

Of all the cars that had tissues in their glove compartments, the cyclist with nothing to offer was the person to help. I think back on that day every time someone could use a hand, especially when no one else is offering one.  

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Stories are and always have been one of the most captivating aspects of the human experience. Behind every company are humans with powerful stories to tell. So, when your company perfects its storytelling skills, that human side of the brand shines through.   

The founders of TomboyX tell their story behind feeling unheard in the women’s underwear industry.

Why tell a story?  

Some may argue that promoting discounts, product value, and reasons to buy should take up the majority of your marketing retail space. And this strategy does help gain new one-time customers and purchases. But a well-told story has more longevity. Telling your story is a productive way to gain brand-loyal customers.  

As I mentioned above, the main driver for telling a story is it humanizes your brand and makes it easier for customers to find similarities between themselves and your brand. Can someone relate to a discount? Not really. But can someone relate to a story of struggle and perseverance? Absolutely.  

Storytelling also solidifies a total and honest belief in the purpose of your product, service, or brand. Companies that clearly explain WHY they exist and WHY they’ve been working so hard to grow their brand.   

TomboyX

TomboyX promotes their story loud and proud on their website, from idea creation to present. Their founders explain how they felt unheard by other women’s underwear brands, and knew that many people don’t identify with a feminine style – but couldn’t comfortably wear underwear made for men. The founders explain how they became a voice for the overlooked, designed their solution to the problem, and became the solution for like-minded individuals across the world. 

This story speaks directly to womxn who have been battling the same gender expectations in their lives, which is an incredibly intimate connection to make between a brand and customer. You can see this connection in the dozens of brand ambassadors that share user-generated content with no expectations in return.   

How to tell your story  

Invest in your main story  

Whether that means creating a high-quality video or investing time into the perfectly-written piece, this is the heart of your company that all other stories build off of. It shows how the company values are developed, and why they continue to exist. This can be the birth of your company, but it can also be a change in ownership or another formative time in the company timeline.  

Investing in this story is worth the time and effort because this story won’t change (unless you add to it). You can use and build off of this piece of content for years, and it will only grow in value. But, for it to be truly evergreen, it needs to be developed well. This may mean instead of just the marketing team or a copywriter writing up the story, you pull the founder into the process. This can at least add a more accurate internal perspective, but the more the story is first-hand, the more genuine it seems.   

Investing in your main story may also mean investing in a quality video or other more interactive and engaging content. A majority of customers prefer to learn more about brands through video, so a founder interview and visual storytelling can go a long way with creating a more personal connection with your audience.  

Don’t gloss over the tough parts  

Stories that don’t have a struggle or low point not only don’t seem realistic, but they also are completely unengaging. A story of sunshine and rainbows with no struggle isn’t relatable.   

Connect to your audience through struggle, failure, perseverance, hard times, and mistakes. Admitting that you failed or struggled at one point doesn’t make your brand seem less successful, just more determined.   

Connect it to a human’s personal experience  

Telling your story from a human perspective is an important aspect of the storytelling process. Otherwise, it’s more of a business growth timeline (In 1990, ACME did this. In 1997, ACME did that.) By focusing on the human reaction to events instead of just the events themselves, you take the feel of the story from a textbook to a novel.   

Keep your audience in mind  

Tailor your story to your audience. Your audience should be in mind when discussing your story medium, tone, and perspective, and even angle. If you skip this part, your story may not reach or engage your most valuable groups.  

Your audience preferences will affect whether you add humor or emotion to create an engaging story. They will also help you determine whether a written story or a video will create the most impact. Your audience perspective should be pulled into every decision around your story, or it may fall flat.   

Stay honest  

Your most sincere story will be your most impactful story. Most people can sniff out framing and truth-stretching, which can make your readers and viewers write off the credibility of your story immediately.   

As mentioned above, owning up to failures and mistakes, and growing pains are not necessarily unflattering to your brand, more so it adds interesting layers to your story. But with lows come highs – it’s just as important to talk about the successes behind the struggles. Keep your story clear and sincere to hold interest and create an honest bond.  

Identify the moral or message you want your audience to walk away with  

Consider this the feeling, ending statement, lesson, or Call to Action that the reader or viewer should walk away with after experiencing your story. Many storytellers aim for inspired, uplifted, or invigorated. If you don’t weave this into this lesson/moral/action into your story, you may not get the reaction you hope to receive from your story.     

Crafting a clear, honest, and well-developed story can create a stronger connection between your brand and your customers more than any discount. If you need help crafting your brand story, reach out to our team! 

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