close up of typewriter with "once upon a time" written on the page
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It’s human nature to enjoy a good story. In fact, it's not just human nature — some say it's hardwired in our brains. Neuroeconomist Paul Zak posits that storytelling encourages cooperation between two parties, such as between a consumer and a brand, by causing the release of the neurochemical oxytocin. 

Brands are increasingly jumping on the storytelling train, turning to compelling stories to build brand awareness and drive conversions. But what exactly is brand storytelling, why is it effective and how can companies get started? We’ve asked marketing experts to share their best tips for telling tales that sell.

What Is Brand Storytelling?

“Brand storytelling is sharing your company's vision and values in a compelling narrative format,” said Anjelica Triola, director of marketing at Wethos. Storytelling goes beyond content marketing, which focuses on trending topics, keywords and SEO that’s measured in clicks or conversions. Brand storytelling is more about company ethos and driving word of mouth marketing by facilitating loyal and highly engaged audiences. Triola believes storytelling appeals to “people who are excited to believe [in], buy [from] and share [how they feel] about your company based on what it stands for.”

Patricio Quiroz, digital marketer at Code Authority, said brand storytelling “allows companies to dig into those emotional stories such as people beating the odds or even a love story.” With stories like these, companies can build brand authenticity and connect to their audience on a much deeper level.

Related Article: Mastering the Art of Emotional Customer Experience

Why Brand Storytelling Works

Trenton Erker, senior SEO specialist and partner at Clarity Online stated, “Humans connect to stories more than numbers and more than solutions. We think in stories and remember in stories.” That’s why storytelling can fuel brand awareness for many companies. Brand storytelling, however, often takes more time to see results than traditional content marketing strategies.

“Brand storytelling can be a longer-term play than traditional content marketing,” explained Triola, “but it's ultimately what drives referrals, retention and a higher customer lifetime value.” That’s because storytelling taps into the attitudes, beliefs and interests of an audience and appeals to their emotions. And appealing to a consumer’s emotions is the best way to ensure a company’s long-term success.

Related Article: Test Your Narrative Strength

How Brands Can Tell Their Story

For companies intrigued by brand storytelling, here are the best tips from the experts for getting started.

1. Know Your 'Why'

It’s crucial that companies know what they stand for. Quiroz suggested brands consider things like, “why did you start your company? or why do you operate the way you do?” These questions will clarify the company’s why and help when crafting a compelling brand story.

It's sometimes helpful to think about what keeps your employees showing up to work every day, added Triola, “Those emotional drivers will likely resonate with consumers, too.” Ultimately, knowing your why comes down to understanding the reason your company came to exist in the first place.

2. Use Creatives and Storytellers

“Don't underestimate the power of pulling in a team with an outside perspective,” suggested Triola. Authors, comedians, directors and illustrators can adapt and enhance stories created by marketing teams. She said you should at least hire a designer and writer that can work closely with your internal marketing team.

“Help storytellers understand what your business goals are,” Triola recommended, such as “who your target audience is, where this content will ultimately live, how it will be distributed, and what success looks like.” Context is crucial for crafting a relevant brand story.

3. Be More Transparent

Erker believes you need to think of your company as a person or personality. “That’s how you naturally connect to those you want to be receptive to you,” he added. If you’re too calculating, your brand story may not be compelling to your target audience.

Similarly, Triola explained, “Transparency and vulnerability are key to telling stories that build intimacy with your audience and elicit emotional reactions.” Whether it’s giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look or using more authentic language, transparency will fuel interest in what your company does.

Related Article: Why Authentic Marketing Is Really Your Only Option

4. Don’t Over-Analyze Metrics

“It's good business sense to make sure your content ties to metrics,” explained Triola, “but consider investing in sentiment tracking over time to see how it really impacts your bottom line in the long run.” Successful brand storytelling is hard to measure, so you need to invest in the strategy long-term without getting discouraged.

“Brand storytelling might not yield an immediate return,” clarified Triola, “but reminding consumers of why you matter and how you're different from competitors can ultimately be the difference in selling your product for $50 vs. $5 later down the line.” Storytelling will build trust and loyalty in your brand that justifies your company’s position in the marketplace.

In the end, Quiroz concluded, “It's the stories that help build trust and motivates people to take action.” Brand storytelling can deepen relationships with customers, and ultimately drive brand awareness and conversions. That’s why every business should consider how they can craft their own brand story.