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How to Create a Signature Brand Story

What’s in this article:

  • Key steps in building a signature brand story

With customers’ shortened attention span, reciting facts about your products is a great way to bore them and make you less memorable. However, one smart way to get customers to pay attention to you and remember your brand is with signature stories.

Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner suggests we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story.

So, what’s a signature story?

A signature story is a “Once upon a time” narrative that portrays actual or fictitious events or experiences with a beginning, middle, and end.

Signature stories are believable, persuasive and help build a brand’s credibility. A fantastic example of a signature story is the one from L.L. Bean.

In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean, the founder of  retail company L.L. Bean discovered that a stitching problem in the first batch of 100 boots his company produced caused them to leak. His response? He refunded all his customers, though it almost bankrupted him. This signature story highlights the brand’s credibility and reminds customers of L.L Bean’s customer-first culture.

Wondering how to build a signature brand story? Let’s take you through the four steps.

1. Find The Right Stories

Telling a wrong story well won’t get you a positive response from your audience. That’s why finding the right story is the most important part of building a signature story. How do you come up with the right story to tell?

Find Your Hero: You need a hero to tell your signature story. Your signature story hero could be your product, employees, or customers. The heroes of the Nike story are real people everywhere, trying to be better.

Nike’s first “Just do it” ad puts Walt Stack, an 80-year-old marathon runner, at the heart of their story and makes the audience watching ask themselves, “If he can do it, why can’t I?”

Select an intriguing and authentic hero to motivate customers and advance the strategic message of your brand. Highlight what attributes define your hero and ensure your audience can relate to them.

Ensure There’s a Connection: Your story needs to connect with your customers. Think about what you want your audience to do, think, or feel after engaging with your signature story. When searching for stories, take note of recurring themes that speak to human conditions such as love, loyalty, and friendship, and build them into your story to pull heartstrings.

It’ll also help strengthen the relationships you have with existing customers, contributing to your business’s growth and overall profitability.

Evaluate Your Story: Not every signature story is a great one. Evaluate the strength of your story by asking the following questions:

  • Is this story worth telling?
  • Does it have a beginning, a middle part, and a resolution?
  • Is the story intriguing, authentic, and involving?

2. Embrace Authenticity

To connect with consumers, enable them to participate in your story, and share it, tell authentic stories. Being genuine drives trust and influences customer behavior positively. In fact, 86% percent of people say that authenticity matters when deciding what brands they like and support. Here’s how to keep your signature stories real.

Include Real People: Inject authenticity into your signature stories by showing how customers use your products as a regular part of their lives or how your company started. Focus on everyday moments, show real-life situations genuinely and allow people to communicate their love for your brand in their own words.

Be True: Connect your story with your product, purpose, and customer’s values like online prescription and sunglasses retailer Warbly Parker. The retailer’s signature story highlights its offering of designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.

Create and sustain a tone of authenticity in your story by using simple language and avoid blatant sales pitches.

Add Some Details: Use a handful of well-chosen details to enhance the authenticity of your signature story. These could be moments where customers encounter the best value of your brand or the defining moment for your founder. The details should be vivid and show customers what they need to know and let them decide how they feel.

3. Get Emotional

A strong signature story is one that stimulates an emotional response from your audience. An emotional story not only connects with hearts but also determines purchase decisions. According to Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, “95% of our purchase decision making takes place in the subconscious mind.” Three ways you can make your signature story touching include:

Be Involving: Your audience must be drawn into your story. To determine if your story is involving ask the following questions:

  • Does it draw people in?
  • Does it make you care?
  • Does it stimulate a change in belief or an emotional response?

If your response is “No” to any of these questions, find out what your customers emotionally relate to and use sensory information to bring your story to life.

Creating emotional connections with your customers leads to happier customers – and more satisfied customers fuel the viral loop and, therefore, help acquire new ones.

Have Empathetic Characters: Create characters that your audience can relate to emotionally and see themselves in. You can show your character suffering from undeserved misfortune, put them in jeopardy, or make them likable. When trying to build empathy into your signature story, understand your audience’s struggles, and be empathetic to the things they worry about.

Create Conflict: Conflict is crucial to keeping your audience emotionally invested in how your story unfolds. Think about what problems, challenges, or fears your customers face and how your brand can help solve them. Use the insights gathered to create a real, worthwhile challenge that is overcome by the hero of your story.

4. Have a Strategic Message

Your signature story needs a strategic message to enhance your brand’s image, customer relationships, and value proposition. Three tips to guide you:

Be Clear: Understand what you want your signature story to show your customers. For example, your signature story can reflect any of the following:

  • Your brand heritage “Where did the brand come from?”
  • Your brand vision “What do I stand for?”
  • Your brand personality “Who am I?”

Whichever approach you take, ensure your story links to your brand message, or your strategic value will be weak. Also, convey your message in a way that will resonate with customers.

Have Multiple Stories: If your audience is diverse, create a portfolio of signature stories to reach them. Ensure all stories are told the same way and have the same messages. Harley-Davidson launched a 12-part road-tripping documentary called Common Ground that featured a diverse demographic of riders from Canada, New Zealand, Mexico, and India.

The central theme was a love for riding motorcycles. Create a structured story bank to categorize different signature stories.

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Have An End in Mind: What action do you want your audience to take? Borrow a leaf from Always’ “Like a Girl” story. The aim of the story was to intrigue viewers and cause them to rethink what it means to do things ‘like a girl.’

Be clear on what you want your audience to think or feel after listening to your signature story. This will help you craft the right story and make it easier to avoid unnecessary information. And don’t forget to leave your audience with a memorable ending that provokes a strong feeling.

Humans are wired to pay attention to stories, and this won’t stop. Share your signature story on social media and leverage traditional media to create some buzz. Also, have employees communicate these stories when dealing with customers.

P.S If you’re up for it, use symbols to keep your signature story alive. There’s a statue of the original L.L. Bean boot in front of the home office.

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