Storytelling is in our genes. It’s how we share experiences with others, as we all have similar yet different stories to tell – common ground for understanding each other and forging meaningful bonds and connections.
Because of these reasons, storytelling has been a part of branding for decades but started gaining true recognition with the advancement of technology and the internet as well as with inbound marketing taking over. It’s what made design matter even more, helping the business create a unique story, with your customers and your own brand being the main characters.
To use design in telling your brand's story, you’ll have to start from the very foundations and give your brand persona distinctive look and feel. You should start with rethinking your first days of doing business, what inspired it, how it was formed, and what were its mission and goals. Then rethink your target audience, and all the people you’ve created your product for – you were responding to their needs and solving their pain points, so make them a part of your narrative too.
Creating an engaging narrative is not an easy task but it will make your story easier to follow. Use the 5Ws and an H, as a guide for brainstorming, and use the answers you get to shape your stories, and don’t forget to incorporate your mission statement and core brand values into your content.
The good thing about stories is that they are disposable, so you can create and try quite a few of them until you identify the ones which match both your brands' image and your buyer personas.
Nike understood the importance of storytelling and its long-lasting effects two decades ago, when it released its famous Michael Jordan retirement commercial and added the now-iconic tagline “Just do it” which has remained incorporated in Nike’s brand story as its vital element ever since, carrying its core values, developing further across the company’s other campaigns, praising diversity, and inspiring change.
Make a Difference
Still, when you’re fresh out on the market, there is a fair chance you’ll have competition already occupying your space. There are numerous companies offering similar products and services, and in order to succeed despite sharing the same target audience, you’ll need to make yourself recognizable and memorable in order to cut through the noise of the oversaturated market.
That’s when your unique value becomes important, and an essential part of your brand’s success lies in making that unique value a significant part of your story. Don’t let the big and powerful and their recipes for success upset you and convince you that you’re on the wrong track. Focus on your target customers’ needs and think of a story which will resonate with them as that’s the way to engage them in a trustworthy and meaningful relationship.
When thinking about making a difference from all the others, think Apple. This company’s storytelling excellence started with the Super Bowl Macintosh commercial in 1984 and “The power to be your best” slogan, all the way to the “Think Different” campaign, thus cementing Apple as the brand of independent thinkers.
Your visual branding is also a big part of your storytelling, and it needs to contribute to your brand’s image. That’s why all visual elements need to fit in perfectly, starting with the colors you use, the logo you choose to represent your business and your typography.
Colors are well known for triggering an emotional response in people, and you should choose it depending on what kind of feeling you want to evoke in your audience. The Coca-Cola scarlet red bursts with joy and passion wherever it pops up, stimulating the appetite, and some even claim – impulsive purchases. Trademarking a color is a common practice in the field of brand protection, so it does not come as a surprise that famous chocolate industry Cadbury fights for the right to trademark a particular shade of the color purple, or that famous telecom provider Orange was a bit overprotective when it comes to the color carrying the same name.
A compelling logo will make your brand easier to distinguish and remember, so it should be an indispensable part of your story too. McDonald's golden arches have made this fast-food company internationally recognizable, guaranteeing the same experience to any of its consumers worldwide. Or just think of all the values and emotions packed in Nike’s legendary Swoosh logo and how many stories it has to tell!
Typography is another part of your brand's identity and it plays an important role in telling your story too. The best stories are never too complex, as they shouldn’t be hard to share and remember, so neither should be your design elements - your logo and typography. Use simple and legible fonts as they are the most attractive to your users, meaning that there’s no need to zoom in and squint in order to figure out what the name of your brand is.
Your brand and the story it tells needs to be consistent, both online and offline, so you should use the same visual elements – colors, logo, and fonts on both digital content and other materials you create, such as promotional items or your personalized business cards.
The key to storytelling is to provide your customers with a unique and smooth user experience.
If you want to attract your prospects to your website and keep them coming back, you need to provide them with superb user experience, which isn’t possible with the stories relevant to them. Apart from your own brand story, make sure to incorporate your audience’s stories through user-generated content and genuine social proof.
Those stories are the foundation of your website design, as it’s your users you’ve created your website for, and you want them to navigate your web pages in an intuitive and natural manner, just like they are leading characters of your brand’s story.
Focus on that whenever you're creating and designing a touchpoint between your customer and your brand. Step in their shoes and try to understand their perspective as that will allow you to create a meaningful narrative and design, which will be in line with your shared core values and goals.