Introduction

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Maya Angelou

——-

How do you go from being a logo and a name to a brand?

You tell a story. 

Most brand stories make consumers declare their love for certain products or companies but in reality?

People love themselves.

They aren’t interested in how the billion-dollar company was established, save for a few. What interests them is how your product makes them feel.

“Blue Band Margarine” reminds that orphan of his mum who ensured he had bread and margarine every day before school. 

The fundamental idea behind humans doing anything is because, at the end of it all, we want to love something about ourselves.

Many experts have termed it as narcissism and nostalgia but it’s at work in marketing. People express themselves with what they buy and how they use their purchases. 

Your buying history is an extension of your personality and reminders of who you are or would like to be.

Your brand story isn’t just a story. It should make meaning.

“Your buyers want to connect with a backstory and spirit that appeals to their sense of self” 

The breakdown of what you’ll learn is:

  • The elements of brand storytelling
  • The 3 things your brand story needs

The Elements of Brand Storytelling

No matter how good and well put together your content is, you should know this … most people do not read every word you put out there. They scan the content instead, looking for something that stands out. 

If they don’t find it, they’ll leave.

Your brand story should lead to a specific outcome. To do this, the following elements should be put in place:

Define Target Audience

Identifying your core audience comes to play here. You have to define your target market first because they will define your product and narrative. You need to know whom they admire, and what they aspire to, despise, fear and cherish.

This is where the battle is won or lost. Pit against any competitor, if you understand the audience better, you will win every time when it comes to connection, engagement, and conversion.

There are three major steps you can take to properly define your target audience:

  1. Identify the customer problems you are solving: Do you understand the depth of the problems you intend to solve? This is the only way to define the target market for your proposition. Have a clear view of these problems will help you work out those most likely to suffer from these problems.
  2. Create a picture of your target customer: You can approach this by grouping them by location – for example, high-net-worth individuals tend to live in certain postcodes.  Below is a proper way to group and segment your audience (Insert screenshot)
  3. Think about niche markets: We already established you cannot sell to everyone. You need to devise more effective strategies 

Set a Measurable Goal

This is the second most important element when putting a product narrative and brand story together. 

Every smart growth marketer places a great deal of importance on tracking and measuring goals. Setting a goal that can’t be measured limits the chances of expansion. What is not measured cannot be improved.

To set measurable goals from your product narrative you need to keep your goals realistic

Image Credit: Opportunity Max

“50,000” monthly visitors for a new blog isn’t realistic nor easy. But you can set a smaller, specific and more measurable goal such as “Generate 2000 visitors per week, by targeting 10 keywords and spending a day every day at relationship-building across all content platforms”

To set measurable goals, you need a schedule. What will you do, at a given time to achieve your goals?

A realistic framework for the goal set above could be:

  1. Research longer tail key phrases
  2. Read and dig deep on your subject of focus
  3. Develop your content and set a deadline. Deadlines are notorious for being motivators. Without a deadline, the clock stops ticking and you are not inspired to take an extra step.

You can measure the later goal using Google analytics, Alexa or any of the numerous SEO tools. Also remember to set a goal, schedule and deadline.

Use Relatable Data 

Sharing a story on how you went from being a broke little boy to being a millionaire will get you some sympathy nods, but it won’t do much for your customers unless you use data to back your story.

For every story shared, there has to be data or case study relating to the product narrative you are spinning. Of course, you can generate and share your own data. 

Create charts, white papers, infographics that make it plain about what you found after a series of experiments.

Here’s a great example. Storytelling lies at the very heart of Airbnb’s marketing.

Their messaging centres around the community and local hospitality, tapping into holidaymakers’ desires for more local travel experiences.

For New Year’s 2015, the company told its story through an animated video, announcing that approximately 550,000 travellers had spent New Year’s Eve in one of their many rentals across 20,000 cities – a jump from just 2,000 guests 5 years previous.

Google also tells its’ story expertly using data. They always manage to evoke a strong range of emotions from viewers, tapping into events that have touched everyone in some way. But they use data. 

In 2016, they released a two-minute film reviewing the top searches of 2016 by showing footage of the year’s pivotal moments – both joyful and tragic.

In testing, viewer response proved ‘overwhelmingly positive’, and the film ranked in the top 1% of all ads tested in 2016. It was also the third-highest scoring out of nearly 700 technology ads tested.

It solidifies your position as a part of the market you are speaking to, which results in a more authentic brand story and easier leadership of the community you form.

Use Persuasion Effectively

You cannot influence people if they can’t be persuaded. 

Persuasion is how your consumers follow the course that you’ve set, subscribe to your email list, buy your product and become a part of your core fan base. 

In a study, 63% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a site with consumer reviews and product ratings. 39% of consumers will change their minds after reading just three negative reviews about your product.

The easiest way to drum up persuasion is to establish social proof. Establishing social proof is a trick that has worked for ages and will always work. For example:

“Nightclubs limit entry and make customers wait outside, forming a long queue in the process. The visual of seeing people waiting to get increases perception about the venue’s popularity”

The Three Things Your Brand Story Needs

We agree about the importance of a brand story. 

But how do you tell your story? When putting your narrative together, there are 3 critical elements to aid you.

1. You need a hero

Every good story talks about someone, regardless of the product. Even a toy company is careful to have a line on heroes and villains.

However, there is a huge mistake business make when dealing with this aspect of the brand story. The hero is NEVER your business or product. 

“Buy our diaper or your children will develop rashes” does not make for a hero-based story. It comes across as selfish, easily ignored and forgotten marketing message. And worst, you will be called out as a liar.

To build a great product narrative and brand story, your customer has to be the hero. And the hero, in this case, is someone who is transformed into your story. This is where setting measurable goals come in. 

A great product narrative is about solving customer problems. It shares the story of the customer-facing a particular challenge, deciding to use your product and then solving the problem based on that decision. This is the transformation that we talked about. Understand where your customer-hero is today and where they want to go. 

Then build your product and story around that.

2. You need an obstacle

Obstacles make your brand story relatable and interesting. 

In your story, you should identify and build on where your hero is today and where he wants to go.

On September 2, 2010, the New York Times reported the story of Ms. Cha: She was in her 60s and she badly wanted to get a driving license. She was envious of people who could drive. So she took hundreds of driving tests, every day of the week.

She did this for five years!  And every time she took the test, it cost her five dollars. Ms. Cha wanted a driver’s license so bad she retook the written portion of the exam 950 times. 

And here’s the kill shot. She persevered because she wanted to take her grandchildren to the zoo. 

Ms Cha got awarded a license, Hyundai, South Korea’s leading carmaker, presented her with a $16,800 car after hosting an online congratulatory campaign. She’s also appeared in a Hyundai commercial.

Hyundai got their hero. Where’s yours?

What is keeping your hero from reaching her goals? Are there any external elements standing in her way? Are there emotional or psychological roadblocks that she has created?

3. You need a moral

After learning about the challenges and triumphs of your customer-hero, what do you want your audience to do?

You can’t leave the decision making to them. 

Use your product narrative and brand story to show how your business can help customers to become better versions of themselves, use it to show how customers can overcome external or internal obstacles to gain what they seek.

But at the end of each story you tell, let the audience know what they should do next. 

Conclusion

Every brand story needs a spark of something remarkable, so it can be remembered and shared.

You have to remind people that you are fallible, that you make mistakes just like everyone. It’s one thing to tell a client that you sell quality houses; it’s another when they hear and experience how your quality houses have really been tested. 

It is psychologically satisfying to learn from the failures and mistakes of others. People appreciate and respect those who’ve grown from their mistakes and can share the lessons they’ve learned.

The audience has to own the product narrative because they are the heroes of every brand story. 

Emotions are guaranteed to make your brand story go viral. The sooner your storytelling gets better, the easier you’ll find it to increase conversions. 

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Growth is the only essential thing you need to be a startup. Startups are created to grow fast. Everything else that happens within a startup is a derivative of growth.

Everything – ideation, product validation, product management, team building, fundraising – follows from growth. Without growth, early stage startup is just a small business losing money.

That is why founders are encouraged to focus on one metric – the one that matters. This is because, as a startup, your limited resources are a deterrent to wasting your time trying different things.

Depending on your type of business, growth will mean different things to different startups. And your one metric that matter changes over time. Getting rid of distractions enables you to focus your already limited resources – people, time, and money – on the one thing that moves the needle.

What is the one thing that signifies that your business is growing at a particular point in time?

In the beginning, growth for a lot of startups has more to do with user acquisition and engagement than revenue. The advantage of defining your growth metric is it tells you the most important thing about your startup and how should drive it.

You need to consider the followings when choosing your growth parameter.

1. Your business model

The way you monetize your product is an indication of the value that will be created by your business. It’s not always about the money, but revenue metrics provides a standard benchmark for growth metrics.

2. How you acquire your customers

The rate at which your products gets into the hands of users is a substantial measure of how scalable and successful your product can be. Inherent in the DNA of startups is the ability to build products that have the potential of being ubiquitous and viral within a short time frame.

That is why most startups are tech-enabled companies because technology enables innovation not just in the way products are made, but how they are distributed. You can measure your growth based on metrics such as unique web visits, page views, app downloads, partner signups, user signups, conversion rate, churn rate, etc.

3. The stage of your business

The stage of your company will determine what to focus on. Early stage business should be obsessed about metrics that validates their product-market fit more than mid or late stage companies.

In the beginning, your growth metric is based on time-based milestones you need to reach such as partnerships, signup at a particular time, user signup rate, number of feature releases, etc. It is important that you wrap this with specific numbers as much as possible to measure progress.

4. How you measure growth

Answering this question will help you make right decisions. Let’s assume you decide to measure your growth by the number of subscribers to your email list. First, you’ll have to optimise your product, website, app, content and every potential user interactions to grow this list.

You then measure the results of all your actions on a regular basis against this metric. You hold yourself and your team accountable with data and see whether you are making progress or not. You deep dive into all your acquisition channels to identify where you are getting the most number of subscribers. You look at the numbers every day and experiment with various tactics and tools to see how you can grow the subscription rate.

As you focus on a particular growth metric and optimise your products accordingly, magic happens. You identify particular big hairy destinations to drive your startup towards and you can measure the how and the rate at which you are getting there. And as you grow, your goal may change, and you redefine your growth metric.

You build, you measure, you learn.  And you continue the cycle until you reach your true north.

Bitnami