COVID dramatically changed attitudes towards working from home. Many companies are saying they will never return to working in the office full-time and will have more employees choosing to work remotely. The global pandemic also resulted in a surge in online shopping.
Both of these outcomes, while bringing advantages, also create challenges, particularly around how to connect and engage with employees and customers.
One way some companies are rising to this challenge is through brand storytelling.
They understand the power of having a strong brand and how stories can create a powerful emotional connection to their brand or their product.
Using stories to communicate your brand is often referred to as brand storytelling. It is a deliberate and sustainable approach to authentically communicate your brand, both internally and externally.
Brand storytelling essentially consists of the stories you share, as well as the stories people share about you that are based on your actions and behaviours.
The power of a great story
There were many great examples of brand storytelling that emerged during 2020 as companies responded to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
One example came from Archie Rose, a gin distillery in Sydney that was founded in 2014.
When Archie Rose was forced to close its bar during COVID-19 lockdowns, the business made the immediate decision to switch production from spirits to hand sanitiser to meet market demands.
Within three days, the team had sourced bottles, reconfigured their production line, created and printed labels, and produced 7500 bottles of hand sanitiser.
This story had an instant connection and immediately received local and world-wide attention. Victoria Tulloch, head of marketing for Archie Rose, said this exposure was not the reason the business did it, but it was “a welcomed yet unexpected by-product”.
The positive impact this story has had on their brand has been outstanding.
Victoria advised that within four months of the story spreading about its hand sanitiser, Archie Rose doubled its database, and its social media platform grew by 30%. She also believes that the brand’s awareness was accelerated by at least 12 to 18 months.
For any company, especially a startup or SME, this is a major win.
Five types of stories
If this can be the impact of just one story, imagine the cumulative effect that many stories could have?
When considering brand storytelling, there are five types of stories company could share:
- Creation stories explain why a product was made or why the company started. Be careful not to confuse a timeline with a story when it comes to creation stories;
- Culture stories demonstrate employees living the company values or sharing what those values mean to them personally;
- Customer stories showcase your customers or what your employees are doing for customers;
- Challenge stories reveal how the company has responded to challenges … both big and small; and
- Community stories illustrate how the company or employees are doing good things to help the community.
You don’t have to be overly concerned about what category the story falls into.
For example, the Archie Rose story could easily be a creation story for the hand sanitiser products, as well as a culture story that demonstrated the brand’s values. It could also be categorised as a challenge or community story.
The main point is to find a variety of stories and share them both internally and externally to communicate your brand in a more engaging way.
These stories can create an instant and potentially long-lasting connection with people that makes them want to buy, invest in, work for, or recommend you.
Implementing brand storytelling is not easy and it’s not quick. However, done right it has the potential to create long-lasting brand loyalty that can help any startup or SME connect and engage with a much wider audience.