Best practices for building your brand story

The best brand stories come from within. To make the most of your organization’s stories and use them powerfully, strive for support from the top, listen to your organization’s most passionate people, and find your authentic voice. It’s key to get leadership buy-in on the essential role that stories play in building brand culture and personality — and the importance
of telling the stories in a strategic, consistent manner.

Find the people who have passion for the stories — that’s who should be in charge of storytelling. Everyone can tell stories, but when it comes to who’s in charge, look for the people who are most passionate. Ask them to participate in developing ways to protect, build and gather the story. There’s no other way to do it. You can’t assign it to someone who doesn’t believe in it. It doesn’t matter if the people with the passion don’t sit in marketing, use them anyway. Most importantly, find an authentic voice that speaks to who the brand is, what it stands for, and what the values are. This should resonate throughout all your storytelling.

“Find an authentic voice that speaks to who the brand is, what it stands for, and what the brand values are.”

Work the core.

Stories can serve many purposes: from inspiring great performance to providing continuity for brand culture to helping to focus research and more. Stories influence brands the same way they influence our lives. When we tell a story, it becomes a part of who we are. It explains something about us that we can share with other people. The same goes for brands. Stories are what makes a brand unique and helps us imagine the traits that set it apart. They bring the brand and its values alive, and so the focus of every story that’s told should be centred around the core values of your organization.

Let the stories blossom.

Be organic in your approach to storytelling and it will naturally be authentic. Start with the brand culture, internally. Give employees the basic story and raw information they need to go out and tell stories in their own way. Giving employees a voice empowers them to help define the brand story, which then makes the
story more honest and truthful in its telling.

“Giving employees a voice empowers them to help define the brand story.”

Encourage sharing.

Provide a central repository where the brand’s stories can reside, give people access to it, and encourage them to make the stories their own. Each department will find different meaning in any one story and each person will add a different perspective that gives a richness and depth the story would not otherwise have.

Encourage employees to share stories in the way that best serves their goals and the needs of their customers. Look for interesting ways to tell stories again and again and ways to relate old stories to new ones. Have the Chairman tell the stories. Have the CFO tell the stories. Have the Chief Maintenance Officer tell the stories. It adds a resonance that strengthens the story and brand.

Be honest.

By all means, tell the truth. Don’t make things up to polish the brand or fit some pre-determined company line. The best stories are real stories. Tell a story about how your company f*&%^* up and lived to tell about it. This is the drama that life is made of — and it’s what makes your brand interesting and the stories engaging.

You can always change the names later if you want to go public. Be interesting. Don’t underestimate the power of good storytelling and good writing. Seek out
the best writers and then let them do what they’re best at. Give your writers clear guidance but also the freedom and flexibility to be creative and most importantly, to make the stories interesting.