Brand Storytelling

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Overview

When you have a great product and are passionate about its future, it is time to announce the arrival of a “newborn” and its parent company. In other words, introduce your brand and your company to the target consumers in order to win their hearts and pockets and firmly establish your product among both corporate behemoths and less-known newcomers. This is where storytelling skills will help you connect your product with consumers by conveying its brand personality.

Most probably, your limited budget will not let you outsource your brand storytelling, but even if you plan to hire experts in the field of commercial writing, they can’t compete with your own expert knowledge of not only your product but the soul of your brand as well. That is why you should consider mastering the skills of brand storytelling as an integral part of your entrepreneurial journey.

Brand storytelling skills are rooted in the marriage of marketing science and the art of creative writing. To learn these skills, you will follow fundamental marketing logic while communicating with your target consumers through written narratives. Although we will mostly focus on product packaging, the objectives of brand storytelling are uniform whether you use a company website or any other platform as canvas for the written word: your story should create value. It is not your actual product, but its perceived value by your consumers that will define your brand’s success.

By mastering brand storytelling skills, you will venture into what is fashionably termed “content creation.” While fashion is unreliable because of its changing nature, the fundamentals of written communication, in general, and brand storytelling, in particular, remain constant and include a messenger (you), a recipient (your target consumer), a message (what you aim to say), and channels of communication (a product package). Our focus will be the message. This message takes the form of a brand story, which is defined as a written narrative about a product, a company, and anything related to them.

Generally, there are two definitions of brand storytelling. One takes a broad perspective and incorporates all marketing communication, aka aggregated “content” that relates to the brand. Our operational definition of brand storytelling is narrower, with a specific focus on written tales with lasting power, such as narratives on the product packaging, and not on the fleeting social media posts that produce short-lived effects.

Five sets of brand storytelling skills will be discussed in the following sections. We will first establish that your brand needs a story, and for that we will turn to academic experts in the field of branding and storytelling. The next four sections will take a practical approach and will equip you with the tools of storytelling craftsmanship. Section two will emphasize the importance of humanizing your brand story and populating it with real people. The third section will provide guidance on writing about your own company, its missions and values, and stress the power of authenticity. Writing about the product will be at the center of the fourth section, where we will explore your product’s roots in history and mythology and discuss managing the country of origin effect. The last section will approach brand storytelling from the creative writing angle and provide you with guidance on crafting inviting headlines and watching out for empty words. Together, these five sections will offer real-life examples and give you an opportunity to test new knowledge and practice acquired skills. The “Further Reading” list will direct your continued learning.

Further Reading

Forman, J. (2013). Storytelling in business: The authentic and fluent. Stanford Business Books.
Gallagher, J. (2019, January 28). The new branding strategy: Churn out ‘content’. The Wall Street Journal.
Herskovitz, S., & Crystal, M. (2010, May 4). The essential brand persona: Storytelling and branding. Journal of Business Strategy.
Kniazeva, M. (2012). Faking authenticity? In Kontominas, M. (Ed.), Food packaging: Procedures, management and trends (pp. 173186). Nova Science Publishers.
Kniazeva, M., & Belk, R. W. (2010). If this brand were a person, or anthropomorphism of brands through packaging stories. Journal of Global Academy of Marketing Science, 20(3), 231238.
Kniazeva, M., & Belk, R. W. (2010). Supermarkets as libraries of postmodern mythology. Journal of Business Research, 63(7), 748753.
Vincent, L. (2002). Legendary brands: Unleashing the power of storytelling to create a winning marketing strategy. Dearborn Trade Pub.