Is Your Brand Story Good Enough?

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I’ll back up, what is a ‘Brand Story’ exactly?

Once upon a time, there was a main character innocently going about life until—bam—major problem. (This is where the story gets good.) This character needs help to solve his problem or else faces complete tragedy and life sucks. Suddenly though, a wise sage swoops in to dole out some much-needed advice. Will the character follow the advice and win? (This is where the story gets real good.) After a stumble here and a screw-up there, the main character figures it all out, follows the sage’s advice, looks back at how awesome he’s become, and wins at life. The world is at peace once again.

***

That’s the formula we all know and love, right? Well, just like how some books and movies rise above the mediocre to reach bestseller and box office level, there’s gotta be something just a little different about your Brand Story's hook, the plot, and the resolution that sets you apart from your competitors. What's the secret ingredient?

First: establish your story formula (Need help? We're handing out a free guide at the end of this post!)

Next
: make it a page-turner. Think about it, the most successful businesses are the ones we just can’t put down, the guilty pleasures we crave, the stories we can’t wait to hear again. 

Then, the resolution: the wave of relief your people experience when they have that “ah-ha” moment: when they realize they need your business more than anything to successfully battle their problem.

In your own words: Add that healthy dash of what’s so intrinsically YOU throughout the whole story. Why? So that your people will remember YOU are the wise sage, the supreme guru, the shoulder to lean on just in case there’s a next time. (There’s always a next time.)

That’s your Brand Story.

So I ask again, is your company’s Brand Story good enough?

Is your story vital and interesting and clear enough to hook your people from the moment they take a glance at the back of your book jacket or watch that movie trailer, all the way through the part where they write your five-star review?

Or . . . is your story kinda one-dimensional, like a bad sequel or a remake? Is it too much like your competitor’s stories? If you stripped away your name, logo, photos, and colors, would a potential customer or client be able to pick you out of a lineup? Would they be able to tell their friends and family the precise reason why YOU are the different one?

If you’ve got a strong Brand Story, congrats! That’s hard work and we’d love to hear it!

If not, let’s get you closer. Here’s one last question for you:

Do you position your business as the Hero of your Brand Story?

Are you the savior to be worshipped? The champion to be celebrated? The legend to be lauded? Well, I’m not sure if you saw this surprise twist-ending, but your business is NOT the hero of your Brand Story.

Consider the following statements:
“Here at Strange Trails, we help tell your audience’s story.”
“Here at Strange Trails, we help you tell your brand story.”

Which one tugs at your heart more? C’mon just say it’s the one where we talked about you and your brand story. You’re not an evil narcissist, we know you love your audience, but we know you love you more. And your audience loves themselves more than they love you.

That’s right, these are real heroes of your Brand Story: your audience, your customers, your clients, your people, your tribe.

With all due respect, your business or organization might do incredibly important things, even heroic things, to help your people. The truth is, though, the people served by your business want to win their own day. They want to look good and they want to feel successful, especially by their own hand. Yes, even when your hand invisibly guides theirs.

Now you're not just a mere sidekick. You have the pivotal job that shows your people how amazing they have become by transforming from Loser at the edge of doom, to Legend standing at the top of tallest mountain ever. The magic happens when you show and tell them about the time where they will win. (And, it’s ok, you can tell yourself about the time that it was all because of you.)

Sometimes they’ll give you map props on helping them out, but sometimes they won’t. You gotta be cool with that. It’s a healthy relationship, we promise. Thousands of years of storytelling prove it. The best brands harness it.

But to this day, businesses still struggle with this mental shift because it’s really, really hard to let go of our ego. The thing is, to place the crown our audience’s head, rather than our own, is exactly what releases us from the shackles of creative block, boring stories, and a drop in our numbers. Why?

Once we drop our ego, we feel less territorial of our space. We open the door to ideas that might’ve seemed ridiculous before. Suddenly, we’re telling our unique and powerful story to our people: the page-turner, the story they crave, the stuff they miss when you’re not around. Now you have a Brand Story that’s worth loving. Everyone is happy and everyone is spending dollars.


TL;DR Recap! Three easy things to remember:

1. Tell your people a story: think of your Brand Story within the parameters of the tried-and-true storytelling formula. But make it a page turner; consider breaking the rules just enough to show the You-ness that makes your story better than everyone else’s.

2. Keep your promise and they’ll follow you: Don’t go too far down the rabbit hole, break your formula, and lose your precious audience in the process. It’s ok to be different, as long as you lead them to their super satisfying winning moment.

3. Drop the ego to open the creative floodgates: Your precious audience is the hero of this story, but you’re the guide who helps them...and that’s ok! There are over 2x the Yoda or Han fans to every Luke fan! (as scientifically proven by the ratio of results in this Yoda and Han to Luke Google search) 

Confused? Skeptical? Bewildered?

Let’s get you on a better path right away.

Start to clarify the problems within your story by grabbing our Brand Story Diagnosis below.

  • You gather your crackerjack team and ask them four questions.

  • They write down four answers.

  • You discuss those answers.

Easy right? These answers will give focus to the underlying problem in your story, so that you can finally battle it like the lightsaber-wielding badass that you are. 

(P.S. We snuck a bonus Cheat Sheet in there to help you out.)

Katie Robleski