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If you want to be less salesy and boring in your marketing and make things less about you and more about your customer, you need to tell brand-related stories where your customers can learn about your product or service.
What is a brand story framework?
As part of the brand-building process for my clients, I create a ‘Brand Master Guide’. This contains everything a brand owner needs to communicate their brand to the world, including a brand story framework.
This framework is used to create content that engages with a brand’s ideal customer to build a strong and trusting relationship. Here is an example of how that can work for a brand.
Susie has a small business that makes and sells custom-designed face masks using quirky and geeky fabric patterns.
One day, Susie wakes up and decides she needs to create new content for her face mask business as sales have started to plateau. In addition, competition has increased from other face mask producers who are undercutting Susie on price with an inferior product, and she is worried that sales may begin to drop.
But Susie doesn’t know what to write about. She has already created a lot of content on the features and benefits of her masks compared to other mask makers.
- How many layers her masks have.
- How they have a pocket for a filter.
- How reusable they are.
- How they come in multiple fabrics patterns, colours and designs.
People have heard it all before from her and all of the other face mask manufacturers.
This is where the story framework comes into play.
The Hero's Journey
Based on the classic hero’s journey, the framework helps Susie create stories focused on her ideal customer. Her customer (the hero) encounters a problem, and Susie (the guide) can help them with that problem.
By creating stories where Susie looks at a day in the life of her ideal customer, she can find content ideas that will help her customers who are at different stages of the story framework. Thus, allowing them to progress on their journey with the help of Susie's brand as their guide.
The stories contain these key stages:
- The problem or struggle
- Looking for a solution
- Finding that solution - (this is where the brand appears in the story)
- Making the right decision (with the brand’s help)
- The breakthrough
- The positive outcome
Story Framework Example
Let’s create a quick story using those 6 elements that tell a story about someone who needs to buy a facemask. We will call them John.
After working from home for 18 months due to the global pandemic, John receives an email from his employer stating that all employees will need to come back and work at the company offices a few days per week.
One of the requirements of going back to the office is that everyone must wear face masks when moving around the office building. John’s employer has said that disposable masks will be made available to all employees to ensure that the new rules are followed.
However, John had heard that disposable masks may not be great for the environment, so he would like to find out a bit more so he can decide if he should buy his own or not.
needs a solutioN
Deciding that the best way to find out what he needs to know is to ask Google, John jumps onto his computer and searches for “Are disposable face masks bad for the environment?”
Finding the answer
John gets millions of results to his question, but he spots a blog post titled “Single-use face masks versus reusable face masks” right at the top.
This is precisely the sort of information he wants to find out.
He clicks on the link, and it takes him to a blog post on Susie’s website.
The blog post is very unbiased, and it gives the pros and cons to both disposable and reusable face masks. There was no hard sell from Susie to buy her reusable masks. She provided all of the information and left it up to John to decide what was best for him.
There was a special offer, though, for anyone reading the blog. Anyone buying one of Susie’s face masks would also receive a free bundle of air filter inserts.
MAKING A DECISION
After reading that initial blog post and feeling more informed and liking that Susie’s posts didn’t shy away from talking about negative aspects of reusable masks, John reads more posts on Susie’s site that educate him on the topic of face masks.
He can see that Susie has done her research and that she is an expert on face masks, but he would now like to see what her customers are saying about her product.
Thankfully, Susie had collated many customer reviews and linked out to her Etsy page so that John could see the product reviews that were being posted there.
John also loves the fact that Susie has lots of geeky masks. John is a big Sci-Fi fan and would like to show that side of him by wearing masks made of fabrics of his favourite films. He could have a geeky one for every day of the week.
The way that Susie communicates her brand’s tone of voice and personality really resonates with John. He feels like she is talking directly to him, which makes him want to support her business.
He now knows that a reusable mask is what he wants. It is better for the environment, and he can get multiple ones to showcase his love of sci-fi.
So he goes ahead and places an order on Susie’s website for 5 masks.
The positive outcome
John receives his masks a couple of weeks before he has to go back to the office. Before he found Susie’s blog post, he was anxious about what type of mask would be best for him and best for the environment. John now feels more confident, and his anxiety about going back to work at the office has gone.
Feeling good about himself, and knowing that he is doing his bit for the environment, he also tells his work colleagues that they should check out Susie’s website and order their masks.
Creating Better Content
This is a pretty basic story example, but you can craft stories that show how your product or service can help an individual by using the story framework structure. This will direct you in the type of content you should create to support your customer navigate the stages they have to get through.
The great thing is that when you start to write your brand stories, you can create lots of little micro-events, too, based on the main storyline. Little snippets would be ideal for social sharing, and these can be used to direct potential customers to videos, blog posts or case studies that expand on the micro-story.
Compare that to spamming a general audience with adverts that are literally just shouting, “Our <insert product service here> is awesome. You need to buy it!”
That is interruptive marketing, and most people will be thinking,” I don’t care!”
Engage Don't Enrage
If you can engage someone in a way that makes them feel like you are thinking about them, that you care, and that you can help them out in some way. They are more likely to want to know more.
It doesn’t matter what you are selling, you are solving a problem for your customer, and there are always stories that you can tell around that.
A customer who feels like a brand is talking directly to them is more likely to buy their product and also tell others about the brand. Thus, giving that brand a distinct advantage over the ones that are only shouting loudly about features and benefits.
To write compelling brand stories, you need to know who your perfect customer is. By learning as much as you can about your ideal customer, you will be able to create stories that feel like a page out of their daily lives.
Your Brand Master Guide
As I have mentioned, when clients work with me on their brand, one of the outcomes of that process is a comprehensive brand master guide. This not only contains their story framework but many other essential brand elements.
One of these elements is the customer avatar; a fully fleshed-out biography of your deal customer. Showing demographics and psychographics. This plays a crucial role when it comes to putting together your story framework.
For your ideal customer to feel like you are speaking directly to them, you NEED to know them inside out.
If you’d like to create a story framework for your brand, let’s talk. Together, we can look at your existing brand and put in a plan of action that takes your brand to the next level. Finally, a brand that people feel understands them and their needs.