By Donald Miller
Content marketing’s steady adoption of storytelling is an exciting new opportunity for content creators. The human brain is wired to respond to well-crafted narrative — neuroscience proves that storytelling is the best way to capture people’s attention, bake information into their memories, and forge close, personal bonds. Your audience is programmed to crave and seek out great stories — that’ll never change.
However, since we’ve spent the majority of our careers optimizing content for algorithms, it can be challenging to flex a creative muscle that’s slowly withered away from inactivity and, in turn, move people emotionally and sear your brand into their memories.
So, to help you strengthen that creative muscle and write compelling stories again, we’ve created a guide about the fundamentals of brand story structure and provided examples of three small-to-medium sized businesses who have leveraged their brand story to resonate with huge audiences, despite their comparatively small size.
What is a Brand Story
A brand story recounts the series of events that sparked your company’s inception and expresses how that narrative still drives your mission today. Just like your favorite books and movies’ characters, if you can craft a compelling brand story, your audience will remember who you are, develop empathy for you, and, ultimately, care about you.
How to Write a Brand Story
1. Highlight your story’s conflict.
At their core, stories are about overcoming adversity. So if there’s no conflict presented, there’s no drama or emotional journey that people can relate to. And if your story has no drama or emotional journey, it won’t hold anyone’s attention — let alone resonate with and inspire them.
Unfortunately, in the business world, brands are horrified to reveal any adversity or conflict they’ve faced. They believe that spinning a rosy, blemish-free story about how their company only experiences hockey stick growth will convince people that they’re the industry’s best-in-class solution. Any adversity or conflict during their company’s history will expose their imperfections, deterring potential customers from buying their product.
But, in reality, this is a huge misconception. Nothing’s perfect. Everything, including companies (especially companies), has flaws. Plus, people don’t relate to perfection. They relate to the emotional journey of experiencing adversity, struggling through it, and, ultimately, overcoming it. Because, in a nutshell, that’s the story of life.
Conflict is key to telling compelling stories. So be transparent about the adversity your company has faced, and own it. The more honest you are about your shortcomings, the more people will respect you and relate to your brand.
2. Don’t forget about your story’s status quo and resolution.
The status quo is the way things are or the initial nature of your situation. The conflict disrupts this situation and puts something at stake, forcing the protagonist (your brand) to actively find a solution to this problem. The resolution describes how the protagonist solves the problem, giving your audience an emotional payoff.
In summary, your brand’s story structure should look like this – status quo, conflict, and resolution. It’s as simple as that.