What makes brands successful? Relationships.
“Brand innovators tend to create different kinds of relationships. Instead of transactional and one-directional relationships, the roles are more collaborative and reciprocal,” according to Harvard Business Review.
But they’re not made overnight. In order to build strong relationships, brands need to tell their story: How they help people solve problems and alleviate pain points.
Stories engage people. They invoke brand loyalty. Therefore, all businesses, especially startups, should create a storytelling strategy to captivate their ideal customers.
It is easier than you think to create a startup brand story. Every business is the result of someone’s dream. Every entrepreneur has dealt with setbacks and found a way out. You just need to tell your story in a way that inspires and engages people–and reach them at at the right time and place.
One-liners and brand stories
Create a one-liner that encapsulates your brand story. That is exactly what Blue Apron, a popular fresh-meal subscription delivery service did. Their vision statement, “We’re building a better food system” tells customers that it’s more than just a food delivery service.
Blue Apron believes in producing sustainable foods, reducing food waste, and providing the freshest ingredients, and treats their partners with dignity. Their message clearly conveys this.
Convey your entire brand story in a one-liner. However, the one-liner is not a summary of your story. It’s designed to urge people to learn more. It highlights the USP of your brand.
In order to come up with an impactful one-liner, revisit the goals you want to achieve (i.e. your mission, vision and core values). The best one-liners squeeze in a lot of information in a logical, impactful and unbiased manner.
Empower customers to share your story
In order to build trust, you need to share an authentic story. Customers can quickly recognize fabricated stories. The best way to earn a customer’s trust is to turn your existing customers into brand advocates. Encourage them to tell your story on your behalf.
Airbnb follows this strictly. For them, the customer is the brand. Instead of telling their own story, they urge customers to recount stories. The company has dedicated an entire section called Stories from the Airbnb Community for customers to share their experiences.
There is another section on the company’s website, called Belong Anywhere, that allows customers to post photos, short films, and videos to help other people understand what to expect when they book with Airbnb.
Positioning customers at the center of the brand has helped Airbnb become one of the most popular travel websites. This approach helps people get rid of the worries associated with travel, home sharing, and experiences. In fact, pleasing and authentic articles, photos and videos posted by customers stir up excitement among prospective customers.
Encouraging your existing customers to tell stories on your behalf will not only help you gain the trust of potential customers, but also improve your bottomline.
Here’s how you can start:
1. Develop the message
Does your message touch the hearts and minds of your audience? Humanize the message and show respect for your customers. Instead of showing off your authority, keep things conversational. This will encourage people to engage with your brand; they will show interest and reciprocate.
One more thing–keep it short and simple. Lengthy brand stories can easily overwhelm people. Write down everything you want to say and then edit it to get rid of the unnecessary and redundant points.
2. Choose your channels
Creating a brand story isn’t enough. Make sure your audience listens to it. Share your story on the right channels to ensure it’s heard by the right people at the right time. This requires a strong content strategy. Identify the channels where your customers, both existing and prospective, can be found.
According to Worldwide Social Networks Users: eMarketer’s Estimates for 2016, 32 percent of the global population and 68.3 percent of the Internet users access social media regularly.
Sharing your story on various social platforms can help you get your story out there. However, share it in the right format. For instance, if you’re targeting customers on Instagram, use high-quality images to tell your story. If you target YouTube users, create high quality videos to grab attention. You can re-purpose your story in different formats and share it on multiple social platforms.
To ensure that your target audience listens to your story, create a blog post, a short video, an infographic, a picture story, and an e-book and share them across various content channels.
A strong content strategy will help you keep pace when it’s time to distribute the content. Create an editorial calendar, schedule content releases and engage your audience on a consistent basis. Track content performance using project management tools such as Trello and WorkZone. These apps will ensure content and marketing teams on the same page and help them collaborate flawlessly.
Storytelling is powerful
Storytelling is the most powerful way to attract attention. A growing number of companies are leveraging the power of brand storytelling. It aids human communication and helps brands build trust and relationships.
With the above tips, you can create striking startup stories and narrate them in an interesting manner.
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This article has been edited.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Co-Founder of E2M, a full-service digital marketing agency, and MoveoApps, a mobile apps development company. He regularly speaks at various conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, Growth Hacking, Entrepreneurship and Digital PR. Pratik has spoken at NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd, IIT-Bombay, SMX Israel, and other major events across Asia. As a passionate marketer, he shares his thoughts and knowledge on publications like Search Engine Land, Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, The Next Web and the Huffington Post to name a few. He has been named one of the top content marketing influencers by Onalytica three years in a row. Connect with @DholakiyaPratik on Twitter.