How telling your story can further promote your brand

When an event planner called up bestselling author and researcher Brené Brown and told her she was going to call her a ‘storyteller’ on the event flyer, Brown baulked at the idea. “Why not just call me ‘Magic Pixie?” she countered. Brown felt the title might undervalue her work as a serious qualitative academic researcher and she grappled with the idea of such a nebulous concept. A storyteller? After initially thinking people wouldn’t take her seriously, Brown pondered on the label for awhile before eventually coming around to the idea.

After years of research in her role as a social worker, Brown knew that connections (through stories) is what gives people meaning to their lives.

If storytelling is something that connects us as humans, how is it something we can incorporate into the world of business, without it being a contrite, gimmicky sales technique? How can we use stories as a legitimate and authentic way of building business around our community through engagement, rather than empty, tired, well-trodden hype? And more so, why should we share our brand’s story? Do potential clients or customers really care? Does it matter if they know how it all began? The who, what, why, where and when? The answer lies in finding common ground with your target audience.

Authenticity is Key

We have been telling stories since time began. What would persuade and entertain you the most? An engaging and revealing anecdote, a personal story that communicates values and beliefs or a series of facts and figures? As humans, perhaps even more so now than ever amidst Covid-19, people want meaningful connections that speak to us with authenticity. We want stories that resonate, inspire, amuse, arouse curiosity, provide insights or even confront us. Gone are the days of faceless brands and tired jargon with glossy buzz words that chime hollow in their overuse. People want to hear about real experience in order to connect.

According to the Global Empathy Index “There is a direct link between empathy and commercial success” with empathy being measured by ethics, leadership, company culture, brand perception and public messaging through social media. As consumers become increasingly savvy and social conscious, so too is the need to reveal the people behind the logo. With a direct correlation between corporate empathy and growth and productivity, telling the story of your business’ evolution builds engagement and credibility.

Stories for Business Development

When Sydney based motivational speaker Sam Cawthorn started up his company Speakers Institute in 2013, he quickly realised the importance of resonating with the marketplace by revealing something about their brand’s people, mission and values. Although it doesn’t define him, his story begins with a car accident that almost killed him and lost him his right arm. Using the experience to write a book and develop his Motivational Program, Sam used his story to provide young people with skills to improve confidence and attain goals while facing adversity. Without Sam’s context, his multi million dollar and award-winning Education and Empowerment Company might not have been as successful. It is the story behind the company that helps build trust and integrity.

How to use your story in Business

While it’s great for motivational speakers to tap into their experience to draw us in, how do you use your story to showcase your brand? For business development, provide context by letting your potential customers know through your website and social media platforms ‘how it all began.’ It doesn’t have to be a long -winded affair, but by providing some brief context about your place as founder within your brand, let your potential customers know why your service or product is worthy of their time or cash. Why are you the expert? What inspiration led you here? How did you make things happen and what are your brand’s goals and mission? Bring your experience and know-how to the table and let your credentials speak for themselves.

Tell the story of how your business came about, what obstacles you overcame (everyone loves a battler,) what inspired it, shaped it, allowed it to evolve. Allow your customers to relate to your service or product in a way that creates a space for personal relevance. What necessity drove you to create that product? Why is your service unique? Show your potential customers the face behind the brand.

Steve Jobs used the story of Apple to engage his audience back in 2007 when he introduced the first iPhone. He discussed the company’s journey of technical evolution, the hiccups along the way, the bumps and setbacks that shaped the course and outcome of the iconic brand’s products. Rather than just launch his new creations, he effectively wooed his crowd with a compelling story of how Apple made it to where they were, namely through blood, sweat and tears. He gave the audience real insight to the people behind the logo, how their ideas were borne and the fruition of their labours. The audience lapped it up like catnip.

Closer to home, Canva founder Melanie Perkins was a mere 19 when she took over her mum’s loungeroom while studying Commerce and Communications at UWA in Perth. Frustrated by the overly complex graphic tools available to her to design tasks, her and her boyfriend Cliff Obrecht decided to develop their own. Five years later and the company laid claim to be the biggest platform of its kind in Australia while expanding internationally.

Sure, the story is one of rapid success but the message behind the innovation, ingenuity and drive is what hits home. It’s a story that resonates within us because we all love hearing about how others rose above the challenges and the idea of launching a business on the back of that success is even better!

So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, reveal your brand’s evolution by revealing the brains behind it. On average we have 15 seconds to hook our online audience, so make it count. If your audience don’t see an ‘About Me’ or ‘About Us’ page, they might be missing something major, that special human element. Don’t have one yet? Not sure it’s necessary? Storytelling Consultant Carmel Finnan of STORY DIALOGUE believes that “Successful storytelling converts relevant data into meaningful, memorable information for the audience.” Lose the bland, regurgitated text and position your brand’s reputation, purpose and mission through a story that connects with a personal, sincere voice.

The art of storytelling in business is knowing how to create engagement. It’s knowing how to move people, how to draw them deeply into your story, how to build trust, how to take them on an emotional journey that can shift their perspective, influence their opinion and change their behaviour.

Tell your visitors (i.e. potential customers) a little about how your passion, invention, frustration, skills or talent found its way into the business world. Speak to your visitors in a voice that resonates genuine intent. Say who you are, what expertise and experience you have, what brought you here, what obstacles you overcame and anything engaging that speaks to them. Show them the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your modus operandi, sell your unique point of difference, your brand’s vision and values through a compelling story that sells not just your brand, but the people behind it. Because ultimately, it’s the human connections that matter most.

  • Write On! Copy

    Samantha Coombs has been writing professionally for a number of years as a freelance writer. Her work frequently appears in newspapers, magazines, blog posts and websites. Sam is very keen to work with small business owners, passionate about 'storytelling' as a way to increase the authenticity of a business' brand.