The Art of Business Storytelling

business storytelling

Storytelling is the essence of all narratives these days. Everyone has a story to tell. Examples are micro stories in a blog or article. Then, there are moral stories for lesson purposes. School teachings are filled with stories from physics experiments to economy classes. I can still remember the story behind Einstein’s theory of relativity experiment even if I have little to no idea what the theory is.

Why is that? Stories push us to create our own form of imagination and visuals, walking through the scenes in our head. Stories create a process of engagement and activity that helps us remember.

Why do Businesses need Stories?

Weather it is in the form for praise, examples, narrative or morals, we tell stories in our everyday life. Stories inspire us to take action, be proactive. This is where businesses are in need. They need their customers to remember them and take action while at it.

Take for example a website or business that brings factual information to their customers with credible sources. They can persuade their audience, their target, of the product but can the information be inspiring enough to convert? Answer that question for yourself.

The business talks about the benefits of their product which may seem agreeable to the reader or potential customer but will it trigger their desire to get the product for themselves?

What sells?

Tell the user why they must buy your product: the benefits.
– 2020 calendar with inspirational motifs to steer away from everyday procrastination.

Tell the user how the product is going to change their lives: provoke a picture/ create a story.
– Did you just procrastinate your 2019 goals into 2020? Open our 2020 calendar to inspiring motifs and let the motivation of ‘now or never’ exhilarate you.

What feels more relate-able? Which one of these paints a picture? In the end, which one of these do YOU think will sell more?

How to Write Business Stories?

Business stories are about presenting your brand to the public via inspiring or relate-able narrative. The art is in crafting a narrative that is equal part information and imagination. To support that narrative, you need a brand voice; a brand theme to support the brand’s voice and relative visuals to hold everything together.

Elements of Business Storytelling

Brand voice

A brand voice for a business it is much like writing voice for a writer. Developing a voice is about what a brand or business wants to convey to its audience. Do you want to sound like buddies hanging out at a coffee shop? Maybe your business relates to sports and its merchandise in which case you want to cultivate proactive thoughts and actions through an active voice. Relatively, a spa business will evoke serenity and tranquility into it’s business tone.

Brand Theme

The colors as much tell a story as the length of paragraphs or slogans of a brand. Take the ever famous McDonalds that uses a combination of Yellow and Red. One color represents happiness while the other in combination to former presents urgency to act.

Take photo blogs for example. Wedding photographers often pick color themes around white, pink or winter blues. Web hosting platform prefer to vary between blue and green. Godaddy, Bluehost, WordPress are some of the names recognized by these colors. Brands in the same space also choose to go for themes different than there competitors but not out of the box. At the edge of the box would be a better description; take Wix and Squarespace.

The Business Story

Theme, when combined with brand voice will create a background atmosphere in the mind of the reader, who is now about ready to absorb the story you have to tell them.

Before beginning the story, mark the purpose. Is it for the stakeholders, users, browsers, purchasers or all in one? A story can be different for different people or one as a whole, across the spectrum. A story you convey to the stakeholder will go into your presentation while the story you tell a potential buyer will be carried with alongside the product. Each one of these are a part of business story.

The next step is to map out the type of story a business wants to tell and the sub-stories that need to be included. Brand stories are often if not always about who the brand wants to help and why. There are two types of brand stories: Personal and Purpose.

  • Personal stories
    This mostly consists of the journey of a person (the face of the brand) that established the brand. The brand talks about the situation, time, place or epiphany that sparked the idea. How they solved their own problem and are now extending their services to solve the same problem for others. From there, the narrative shifts into brand values where it talks about the kind of service, the brand wishes to provide.
  • Purpose stories
    These are brands which create a narrative around a greater purpose. Business storytelling is a major tool in this case as the brand already has a common problem that it needs solving or contribution. People relate to these problems on an emotional level and support the brand in the name of supporting the shared cause.

Sub stories

Now that the basic map of business storytelling is established, sharing experience or cause isn’t enough. The story needs to be surrounded with sub-stories which act as a transition from values to product.

The word, sub-story may sound confusing. The common phrase is mission, vision, milestone, history, individuality, uniqueness, testimonials. But every brand has these denominations. How you choose to narrate them makes it part of the bigger picture. think of it as:

what we seek to achieve.
where we come from.
why we stand apart from others.
what people, like you, think of us.

To support stories, the business must add images. For personalized business storytelling, stock images are a big bold NO; unless they fit like a puzzle. Personal stories use personal images, small businesses with rare services use self curated images (Instagram operated business are exemplary to this) and cause oriented businesses use images depicting problems. Brands with common services will use animation or product images pertaining to relevancy.

Images can be just as unique as the brand. Big brands, preferably, always invest in customized photo shoots for their campaign. Everything is part of a theme in the story.

The results

In the end, business storytelling, at its very core, is about attracting and attaching customer’s emotions. But you can’t measure emotions, you can measure analytics. Your business story is a success if, as metrics, you manifest reaction like higher engagement and garner trust like loyal users.

Remember that not every story might be unique but your experience and journey towards the creation of your business is. Tell your story and take others on this journey with you.

Think about your business story.

See you next blog!

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