How To Use Storytelling To Make Your Brand More Human

People love that Apple and Google both started out in a garage because it underscores the human element of the company: two guys working day and night, chasing a dream, with barely a penny to their name.

It was 16 years ago that Larry Page and Sergey Brin started building Google out of a small garage, 2 miles down the road from their Stanford University campus. The co-founders even used Stanford’s servers to host the first edition of their search engine. Last year, Google announced changes to the search product from the garage, to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Now that is a cool story.

The Garage Where Google Was Born - Stanford

Google’s first office. Photo from Mashable.

As I’ve mentioned in a few presentations, everyone loves stories. Although we’re in a digital age, you never hear a child at bedtime say ‘tell me about data’.

Too often, brands neglect the story behind their brand, and their products and services. Customers want to engage with people, not with a not a corporate logo. Putting faces and brand ambassadors at the forefront of your social and PR strategy is a great tactic for brand storytelling, and can be an effective way to build customer trust, and drive engagement.

More often than not, big organisations are slow to adapt to the rapid changing digital sector. Those that stand still face being left behind, with customers way in front with companies that are willing to change, adapt and engage.

Over the last 12-months we’ve seen a big shift towards omnichannel marketing – a buzzword that has been ringing out of the John Lewis Partnership is an effort to tell all partners that customers no longer see channels: they see customer service. Their belief is customer service should be exactly the same online as offline, whether that’s on Twitter, or returning an item in-store. Customers want to know who they are dealing with, and it’s about time brands caught up and mirrored their offline customer service online.

To take those all important strides to making your brand more personal and more human, here are a few tips to help you get going:

Strike A Chord With People

I’d like to think you have a target audience. In fact you may have multiple audiences, depending on your products and services. Travel is a great example. A luxury travel company may target affluent families for certain destinations, and wealthy couples for other destinations and products.

Aside from knowing your audience, you then need to strike a chord with them. You need to understand what makes them tick. In return, customers want to know who you are and what you believe in. Of course, not every business has a sexy story like Apple and Google, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell the story about your background, or emphasise your goals. Even if you’re part of what some might consider a fairly boring B2B in an unflattering sector, you can still strike a chord with people.

Be Human – Show Your Face

Twenty years ago, it used the be the CEO that was the face of an organisation. Thanks to social media, businesses are now very transparent, and the inner workings and lives of your employees can usually be seen across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms. But whilst many may see that as a risk, others see it as an opportunity.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a builder, a digital agency, a lawyer or even a party clown. Social media has allowed us to snoop, and gives us an immersive look into other peoples lives. These social ‘windows’ – if crafted correctly – can be the start of positive perception-building for your business. At the end of the day, people buy from people. If they don’t like you, they won’t buy from you.

Be Authentic

It’s tempting to want to sound important when scripting your brand story. It helps to try and wrap it up into an informal elevator pitch, or pretend you’re talking to a friend rather than addressing a huge crowd of customers. But – as with the first point – remember your audience. Millennials may appreciate excessive laid-back, casual language, but Baby Boomers? Not so much. This applies not only to your brand story, but also the language you use across social media, your website, and face-to-face.

You should also be transparent and honest. This may require you to take off your marketing hat, which most people will see as a good thing. Customers will appreciate the honesty.

Include Your Customers In The Story

A business wouldn’t be a business without customers, so it stands to reason that they should be part of the story. In our principles of storytelling post, we mention ‘integration’ as one of the key areas to consider when crafting your story. Gather feedback, let them share their positive experiences with you, and weave these into your story. Again, people buy from people, and there is no stronger recommendation than from other customers that have had a positive experience.

Share Your Story

Once you have people in place, and your brand stories are ready to launch, it’s time to share them. Create a mini-content plan for distribution. Think about how your customers will consume the story content – at home? At work? On what device? Which social platform? If you’ve created any image or video assets to help tell your story, make sure these are visible, and consistent across each of your owned media platforms.

As your website is the face of your brand online, you want to make sure users see the more ‘human and personal’ you when they visit. Ensuring your Home and About Us pages reflects your brand story are good places to start. Blog posts and vlogs can also contribute, as they are easy to consume and share.

Top Tips To Help Make Your Brand More Human

For more advice on how to make your brand more personal, crafting brand stories and audience targeting, feel free to get in touch with the 8MS team 🙂

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