Ask any marketer what the cornerstone of a good brand is, and they’ll come back with a different response every time!
But ask them what the cornerstone of marketing a good brand is, and most will tell you it’s storytelling.
Storytelling isn’t new, but when it comes to marketing a brand and using tactics like content and social media marketing to promote a brand, storytelling has become more popular than ever.
You could even say it’s become a “buzzword”.
While storytelling has been around for centuries - and brands have been using it for decades - it’s only been recently that businesses of every size have adopted storytelling to get their brand noticed. That’s because, as humans, we’re actually wired to respond positively to well-crafted narratives (who knew?!), which means telling your brand’s story can have lasting impact.
But, there’s one catch: most marketing initiatives today revolve around beating or cheating the “algorithm”, that Oz-like thing that dictates when your content gets seen, how customers discover you, and how your strategies perform.
To help you beat that algorithm and properly position your pet brand and grow your business, we’re going to show you how you can craft a compelling brand story (and 3 of the key elements that’ll help it succeed).
But first: what is a brand story?
In short, your brand story is one large narrative that encompasses everything you want people to think, feel and remember about your pet brand.
Think of your favourite novel; whether you read it 5 years ago or two weeks ago, you still remember the plot, the characters, and how the story made you feel.
That’s because the story inspired an emotional reaction in you - and your brand story has to do the same for your customers.
When you think of your brand story, what inspired you to start your pet business? What sparked the creation of your products, or what motivated you to develop the solution you offer?
Questions like those help you form a narrative that guides everything you do, and that narrative drives your business from the day you start it, through to everything you do to grow it.
It’s important to keep in mind that your brand story is not the same as your brand identity or branding - those elements support your brand story, but your story can’t be made up of just a logo or a marketing strategy.
How to craft a brand story?
Think back to your favourite novel again - did it have a conflict? A challenge? Something the characters had to overcome?
Start with your conflict
Every story has a conflict. It’s the key tenant of storytelling, because conflicts lead to resolution, and resolution leads to success. In the same way, you started your pet business because there was a conflict: maybe there was a gap in the market for a product like yours, or you couldn’t find the solution you were looking for, so you created it.
What you have now - your business - is the result of some sort of conflict that you developed a solution to so you and your customers could overcome it.
That conflict is integral to your brand story. But that’s not the only thing you need.
Remember your status quo
No story can have a conflict without first having something that needs to change, and that’s the same as a status quo.
Status quo refers to the way things are, or have been, that hasn’t changed. Remember the time before raw pet food or organic, all-natural pet treats blew up? The status quo was to buy generic pet food from the same 5-10 pet brands.
But then, other brands showed up to challenge that status quo, which created conflict. Conflict disrupts the status quo and sheds light on opportunities for change.
So, when crafting your brand story, you have to ask yourself what the status quo was or is for your situation, and how it led to your conflict.
Keep in mind, though, that “conflict” in this instance isn’t a bad or negative thing - rather, it’s a disruptor or impetus for change.
Don’t forget your resolution
In your favourite novel or story, there’s undoubtedly a protagonist who overcomes the status quo and defeats the conflict.
In other words, they solve the problem.
Your brand is quite literally the protagonist of your business, because you created it to solve a problem that arose by disrupting the status quo.
And your customers? They’re your supporting characters. They’re the people who believe in the protagonist, feel something about their story or journey, and want to be a part of the success (resolution).
In this way, your brand story is structured like any other classic novel: status quo, conflict, resolution.
Why you need a brand story
There are two key reasons you need a brand story, above and beyond the fact that, without one, no one can identify with nor relate to your brand.
Those two key reasons are trust and connection.
If you think about why you buy from the brands you do, often your reasoning boils down to the fact that you trust the brand to deliver on a product you benefit from, and you feel connected to the brand.
Trust is a big part of that, because without it, customers can identify with you. They can’t and won’t understand that you have created something for them because you’ve been them. You’ve been in their shoes and you know the challenges they’ve gone through.
That same trust leads to connection.
Think of it this way: when customers feel that you understand them, empathize with them, and know their needs, it forms a connection that keeps them coming back to your brand because they trust you and know you’re looking out for their needs.
A brand story helps other people tell your story
One of the greatest benefits to having a well-defined brand story is that it helps others understand what you do, why you do it, and how you can help them.
And if they know all of those seemingly small but incredibly important details, they can tell your story to others. It’s what some marketers refer to or consider as “evangelizing” a brand. It’s also called customer marketing, but both infer the same thing: customers will do the talking for you. And that’s invaluable.
In other words, a good brand story tells itself.
At some point, you’ve purchased a product that you’ve raved to others about. It could be food, clothing, a pet product, a tech accessory...anything that has helped you, improved your situation, or made your life easier. When you tell a friend or family member about the product and how great it is, you likely also explain why it’s great and how it’s great.
You’re evangelizing and marketing a brand without even knowing it!
And that’s customer marketing: when customers tell your story and sell your product for you.
Your brand story needs 3 key elements
At the beginning of this article, we dove into how you can create a brand story using the classic tenets of storytelling: status quo, conflict, resolution.
But you don’t have to write the next great novel in order to tell your brand’s story, or to be great at storytelling for your pet business!
If the narrative approach to crafting your brand story seems a bit too “out there”, take the Buffer approach and distill your story into the three simple steps.
“There’s a problem that no one’s solving, or no one’s doing a good job of solving”.
“We have an idea, or product, that solves that problem, and here’s how”.
“Our solution is working for people, see for yourself, we’ll show you!”
The reason why this approach works so well is because it does craft a narrative, but in a way that’s easy for customers to digest and repeat when they tell others about you.
But be careful with your ending. Your brand story doesn’t “end”, it simply evolves to continue telling and showing the success.