How To Tell Powerful Brand Stories
Updated: Mar 19
No matter what marketing platform you use, this timeless structure will help you tell brand stories that connect deeply with your customer and set you up for success.
In my article “Use Brand Storytelling to Supercharge Your Marketing,” I discussed how businesses are shifting away from tired push marketing (yawn), towards a more creative and compelling way to engage customers using brand storytelling (yeah!).
I showed you how creating a brand messaging framework can help you ensure your brand stories are supporting the brand idea you want to own in your customer's mind. Hopefully, you’ve downloaded your FREE Brand Messaging Framework Guide and have identified the 3-5 brand stories you want to tell (if you haven't, you can get it here.)
And now, you’re ready to start telling brand stories!
But wait….What does that really mean? How does brand storytelling work IRL? How do you even get started?
A Powerful Storytelling Structure
Luckily, there’s a powerful storytelling structure with universal understanding and appeal that can help you get started and keep you on the right track – it's called "the hero’s journey." Documented and deconstructed by comparative mythologist, Joseph Campbell in his 1949 groundbreaking book, “Hero with a Thousand Faces,” the hero’s journey is a proven storytelling structure that exists across all cultures.
This is the exact storytelling structure used by writers like JK Rowling and George Lucas to create powerful stories like Harry Potter and Star Wars – and no one can argue the intense connection people feel towards those stories!
The hero’s journey takes the reader through a series of events that leads the central character from status- quo, through a transformation, and then back to the status-quo (but profoundly changed).
It follows a consistent 12-step story arc that looks like this:
Using the Hero’s Journey To Tell Your Brand Stories
If you’re nervous that every story you tell about your brand has to include these 12 steps, rest easy. You can follow the spirit of the hero’s journey by employing these proven strategies to create your own powerful brand stories.
1. Start with your customer
First, you must shift your mindset away from the idea that you or your brand is ‘the hero’ of the story. Your customer is the hero of the story! They're the one engaged in a conflict or presented with a challenge that presents serious consequences if not resolved.
What challenges (related to your product or service) are they facing?
What do they fear will happen if the challenges aren't resolved?
What’s at stake for them if they can’t find a solution?
What do they need to know to overcome their challenges?
Making your customer the hero allows you to set up the story with empathy and understanding of your customer’s needs and desires. It also focuses the story you will tell about your brand’s role in their journey.
2. Present your brand as the guide or the mentor
Now it’s time to present your brand as the trusted guide or the mentor who will help them overcome the conflict or the challenge they're facing.
This is an opportunity to weave your brand into their journey – to connect with them on a profound and emotional level and demonstrate how your brand provides the creativity, the innovative thinking, and the human ingenuity to resolve their conflict.
3. Communicate the transformation
It’s important to be clear about the transformation your brand can bring about.
Remember your hero may be conflicted, anxious, overwhelmed, or fearful and you have the power to paint a future-state vision where they're master of their universe, calm, in-control, and the hero of their own lives.
The key is to communicate the transformational change that’s most important to your customer – not for your brand. Ask yourself, ‘as the guide or mentor, what outcome do I want my hero to experience?’ Paint that picture for them through success stories or innovations that made a difference. Communicate the unique value you bring to their journey that no other brand can provide.
4. Reinforce your commitment to future transformations
Your hero customer may have overcome one challenge, but you can sure there will be others in their future. As their guide or mentor, you can reassure them that your brand is committed to anticipating, and solving for, challenges by staying one step ahead of the competition.
Putting It All Together
You don’t need to write a novel to use the hero’s journey structure in your marketing. In fact, once you’ve got the basic structure down, you can create powerful brand stories on your website, Facebook or Instagram posts, sales materials, or newsletters.
Let’s take a look at a brand who does a great job of using the hero’s journey structure in their social media marketing.
Feals is a start-up brand in the exciting, new CBD market. They use the hero’s journey structure to tell four important brand stories in compelling ways on their IG feed.
Scroll through and you can see that in each story, the customer is the hero and Feals is the guide or mentor helping them navigate a challenge they’re experiencing. They provide the information and the solution necessary for the transformation their customer is seeking. And, they demonstrate a commitment to solving ahead.
Start Telling Stories!
With practice, you'll find the hero's journey structure makes it easy to engage your customers more deeply, build trust, and win the kind of brand love that drives word-of-mouth recommendations.
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