Storytelling for Branding
May 2016 04

Branding is all about storytelling. This includes being authentic, building tension, sharing your failures and successes, and much more.

If you don’t know what makes a good story, how can you create a brand that people notice? Below Forbes Coaches Council members each describe one storytelling technique that anyone can use to create a more powerful brand.

12 Storytelling Technique For Creating A More Powerful Brand

Clockwise from top left: Cha Tekeli, Corey Blake, Wendi Weiner, Vanessa Van Edwards, Barbara Safani, David Taylor-Klaus, Pat Rigsby, Jared Redick, Robyn Hatcher, Beth Kuhel, Sally Fox, Larry Boyer. All photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. Use The Word That Most Describes Your Brand Repeatedly

If your brand were one word, what would it be? If you’re telling a story about your brand, bring each peak and valley in your story back to that one word. Use a powerful word that artfully describes your unique brand. Use something emotive, as people tend to remember how you make them feel versus what you say. And, if that word can be visually linked to your brand, you’re gold.   – Cha TekeliChalamode, Inc.

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2. Share Your Hero’s Journey

You are a company run by human beings for human beings. Share the authenticity of your hero’s journey with the world. Life is full of obstacles, pain, and low points, not just high points and celebrations. Show your light and your darkness. Invite the world into what you stand for as a brand and where you are strong, but also where you are frail. It’s time for companies to get real.   – Corey BlakeRound Table Companies

3. Be 100% Real And Share Your Journey

People connect with people. Stories that share triumph, tribulations, and the overcoming of obstacles are examples of ways to achieve this. More simply put, allow yourself to be seen as a round character rather than a flat character. This literary idea can be inputted into a powerful brand by conveying your emotions, inner thoughts, and the struggles you have encountered along the way.   – Wendi Weiner, JD, NCRW, CPRW, CCTC, CCMThe Writing Guru

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4. Use Tension

As humans, we love a struggle — good versus evil, traditions vs adventures, and of course, the hero’s journey. A company should always frame their stories around some kind of tension. Perhaps it is one small brand against a huge corporate giant or a big idea against an inhospitable world. This idea of tension works in bios, blog posts and keynotes, and makes for the stickiest stories.   – Vanessa Van EdwardsScience of People

5. Be Specific

Brands are built based on authenticity and trust. By communicating specific stories of success about your brand using examples, anecdotes and imagery, you can build a more powerful and memorable brand. Don’t just tell people what you do; show them specifically how what you do makes people feel and how it improves their lives.   – Barbara Safani, Career Solvers

6. Fail Forward

By nature, people hate being wrong or admitting failure. Ironically, listeners lean in to a storyteller when s/he shares a failure. It makes the storyteller, the speaker, the brand more human, more accessible. When the listener is engaged, share the learning that comes from the failure. Next comes the redemption: When faced with the same situation, a different action was taken.   – David Taylor-KlausDTK Coaching

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7. Tell Your Story Like You Talk

Storytelling is the oldest way to deliver a message, create trust, and build authority — and it’s probably the most effective brand-building tactic you have at your disposal. But the connection that a story potentially creates is often lost with corporate-speak and jargon. Simply talk like you would normally talk to deliver your story and people will connect with you, your message and your brand.    – Pat RigsbyPatRigsby.com

8. Create User Personas And Segments

Take a page from the corporate marketer’s handbook by identifying your favorite client types —their dreams, strengths and weaknesses — and creating composite characters and stories that address their unique needs. Now segment how you communicate with them. Working with MBAs going into business for themselves? That’s a persona. Creating a Twitter channel just for them? That’s segmentation.   – Jared RedickThe Résumé Studio

9. Interview Your 8-Year-Old Self

My nickname growing up was “Shy” and now I teach communication skills. My “Shy” story is what most people consistently remember about me and the reason many clients decide to work with me. I’ve discovered that who clients were as 8-year-olds impacts the skills they have and use as an adult. So ask your 8-year-old self why they think you do what you do, and I bet you’ll have a story.   – Robyn HatcherSpeakEtc.

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10. Tie Your Company’s Identity To Your Customers’ Aspirations

Understand your target market and unite their subconscious desires, such as success, prestige, bravery, athleticism, etc. to your desired idea. Distill your company’s identity into a single phrase that fosters an emotional connection, like Nike’s tagline “Just Do It” has become a catchphrase for anyone that is brave and daring. When you combine aspirations with image, you’ll create a more powerful brand.   – Beth KuhelGet Hired, LLC

11. Find The Right Frame Before You Start

When we have a great business story, it’s tempting to jump in before asking the questions: Why this story? “Why now?” and “How does this story position us?” When you pick the right frame, your stories reinforce the right message. The great AirBNB stories work because the company is not framing itself as a hotel competitor — but as a leader in a new industry of community-without-borders.   – Sally FoxEngaging Presence

12. Create An Inclusive, Colorful Vision

We all want a brand to connect with others on an emotional and intellectual level. Who do you want to take along on your journey? Why should they come along with you? If you’re planning a vacation, the people and places who create the picture that resonates best with you determine where you’ll go. Why not do the same with your career or business? Join me on my journey and enjoy our time together.   – Larry BoyerSuccess Rockets LLC


Next upcoming workshop:

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Upcoming workshop: Sunday May 15th, 2016 – Intercultural Dialogue Institute


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