What is a brand story? It’s a narrative about your business that inspires a positive emotional reaction. It’s not about showing and telling people about your brand, like traditional advertising, but combining facts with feelings as you explain how your business came to be and what drives you.
Storytelling isn’t a new concept in digital marketing. It’s easy for a tourism business to inspire people, for example, by creating a narrative around the kind of experience a visitor will have if they visit that destination or engage that service. It’s also easy to inspire people with a start-up, because usually there’s a strong values-based reason as to why the founder took action.
Brand stories for finance companies should focus consider the following elements:
- Who are you and what do you stand for?
- What problems do you help solve?
- What experience do you redefine?
- Why should people trust you?
- Who is your community?
- How do you do good?
Think about these questions as you read on. We’ll come back to them in a little bit.
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Modern marketing leans on brand stories
Historically, most businesses used a model best described as “interruptive marketing.” It’s called this because it essentially involved interrupting people to capture their attention, educate them about your services, and convince them to engage – think direct mail, cold calls, door knocking, etc.
However, the digital age turned this model on its head. As consumers became more tech-savvy, they became more educated, which meant they were in total control of the kind of information they read. Being interrupted all the time with brand messages became a nuisance, which was off-putting.
The way we market had to change at a fundamental level, which is why the industry evolved and adopted a new philosophy known as “inbound marketing.” Inbound marketing is essentially the practice of yourself easy to find, so people can access your services when they want or need them. They come to you; you don’t go to them. It’s an entirely new way of thinking.
That’s where the brand story comes in. Prospective clients will find you in many different ways. You’ll need a strong social media strategy and a strong SEO strategy to ensure you’re present in all the places they’ll be likely to look when they’re trying to find a financial services company.
Once they choose to click on one of your links, the brand story will be front and center. This means two things: acknowledging their problem, and explaining how you’ll act to solve it. Make it persuasive, because this is your chance to inspire them to take the next step.
Creating a brand story for your business
Let’s circle back to the questions above. The reason we ask them is so we can find out what makes your business unique. What separates you from your competition? Ultimately, this will be at the heart of all of your company messaging, because it’s the first step to explaining why someone should choose you. You need to create a brand in which your employees and clients can take pride.
It’s not necessarily about being the best (although that doesn’t hurt). It’s about the relationship you develop with your clients and the experience they have doing business with you. Your mission statement is a good place to start. What are your values? These should be reflected in your brand story, to help people understand what you’re about and see if your values align with theirs.
Once you’re clear about your guiding principles, you can develop your story.
Here’s something to think about: benefits sell; features don’t. Anyone working in the finance sector can list all of their services and launch into a length explanation of each. Does anyone want to hear that? It may sound harsh, but the answer is not really. They don’t want to wade through a bunch of technical financial information and create a spreadsheet comparing your services to that of your competitor. What they do want, however, is to find out how you’re going to help them.
Every brand story should focus on the consumer. They’re the main character. Create a story that validates their problem, shows that you understand, and lets them know you’re on their side.
You need to immediately acknowledge their problem and explain how you’re going to act on it. You need to explain the benefits of your services. Most importantly, you need them to buy into your story – they need to align to who you are, what you stand for, and what drives you.
Read more: Why is corporate branding important?
How to actually write a brand story
By now, you’ve realized that a “brand story” doesn’t mean a novel. We’re not asking you to write a book about your childhood, your formative years, your struggles, and your hopes and dreams (although if you do go ahead and write a personal memoir, we’ll definitely help market it).
Instead, think of your brand story as your 30-second elevator pitch. Say you’re riding in an elevator with a prospective client. They ask what you do. You only have a few floors to make an impression. What are the key things you’ll want them to know when the bell dings and the doors open?
HubSpot, a marketing software developer, says the key is to “tell your brand’s story, not its highlight reel.” No-one wants to listen to someone brag about their achievements for 30 seconds. However, a genuine human connection – such as a story of overcoming adversity, or solving a problem with a values-based solution – will be relatable, and memorable for all the right reasons.
If you’re not sure where to start, make it a tale of overcoming adversity. It’s a classic model of having an ideal, pursuing a goal, getting knocked down, and ultimately finding success that never fails to be persuasive. People love to root for an underdog and see them prevail.
Read more: An expert guide to content marketing
Putting brand stories to work
Once you’ve had a brainstorm, defined your answers to the questions we listed at the start of this blog post, and organized your thoughts into a few paragraphs, it’s time to put them to work.
First of all, we recommend putting a summarized version on your homepage – this only has to be one or two sentences. For people who enter your digital ecosystem through the front door, it will capture the heart of what your business is about and create a good impression immediately.
The full version of your brand story should live on the “About” section of your website. This is generally the second most-visited page on any website, because once people are on your webpage (whether they enter through the homepage or a side window, like a blog post), they’ll want to confirm that your business is legitimate. This will give them a sense of who you are and what you’re about, which will encourage them to invest the time reading the rest of your web content.
In order to maximize the impact of your brand story, we also recommend expanding on your philosophy in a blog post (or series of posts), and sharing snippets of your story on social media. This will ensure your messaging is consistent, which will help prospective clients get to know you.
There’s nothing better than having a meeting with someone who says, “Oh, you’re the company who ___.” Bazinga! That’s why stories are at the heart of modern marketing: we create a story, develop a genuine connection, inspire someone to take the next step, and generate a lead.
Ready to develop your brand story? Schedule a free consultation.