The secret of great brand stories
By Lesley Vos, content writer @Bid4Papers
No matter how multi-million the audience is, strong brands focus on one person. He’s the ideal customer who brings them money. They know his name, age, school nickname and songs this person sings in a shower on mornings.
Weak brands work with a large group of abstract people who do not exist (after all, it is impossible to grasp the abstraction). Strong brands know their person by sight. They write their business story for him.
The point I’m trying to bring home here:
To make this person, your ideal customer, experience a positive emotional response to your brand that would influence his decision-making to buy from you sooner or later, you need to help him conquer an enemy.
Back to the roots
Thousands of years ago, our predecessors gathered about the fire and shared stories: how a day went, what happened in a hunting field, why a mammoth escaped, and so on. When they couldn’t tell a story by words, they draw it on cave walls.
Thousands of years have passed, and now we do the same but call it by a buzzword creeping out of every corner.
Why does it sparkle more than ever today? Because marketers have (finally!) understood its power for building a brand identity and making people want to listen to their brand messages.
A story is the only way to make a personal connection with your ideal customer. He will use feelings rather than facts to evaluate your brand, and what will help you trigger those feelings from him is emotional narrative.
A text written without feelings is like Whiskey-Cola without whiskey.
Okay, but what does it all have to do with enemies?
Good stories always have their enemy. It makes a protagonist look different. Batman wouldn’t be so cool if there were no Joker, agree?
- An enemy may be both from within and without. It’s something that “eats” the protagonist of your story, whether it’s business, product or service, your ideal customer, or a place.
- An enemy is a pain, a problem, a disease, or a challenge to overcome. An enemy is what builds a conflict and catharsis of your story.
- An enemy appeals to our basic emotions: anger, fear, surprise, and sadness; it allows you to evoke empathy and authenticity from the audience. And that’s exactly what your brand needs for success.
Case in point:
I bet most of you read these stories:
- On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. The enemy: a disease.
- How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. The enemy: an accident.
- How to Accomplish Big Things, Even When You Feel Small. The enemy: fear.
All are from Jon Morrow. A CEO of Smart Blogger, a former editor of Copyblogger and Kissmetrics, he’s justly considered one of the best storytellers and blog traffic geniuses.
His stories are always about the struggle with both inner and outer enemies, and that’s what makes them memorable. Jon evokes heavy heart, trust, empathy. He’s authentic. He makes the audience curious. That’s why his personal brand is so popular.
How to find enemies for writing your stories
Every story has a particular reader, so ask yourself before writing: what problem it solves, who or what acts the part of the enemy in it, why and how it can make a life of your reader better.
Avoid writing about anything and everything. Depending on your reader’s needs at the very moment, choose corresponding enemies for your stories.
A reader’s pyramid can help you here. Built along the lines of Maslow’s, its every level is responsible for particular values. Choose that of your reader — and voila!
To make your story work, structurize it accordingly. It should have a topic (general knowledge in a niche), a focus (a detail allowing to take a closer look at the topic), and a format (a content type you choose to tell a story: listicles, how-to’s, interviews, long reads, etc.).
- Topic: Business
- Focus: Entrepreneurs
- Format: a listicle, an interview
As a result, such a scheme will allow you to reduce the extent and concentrate on writing for that very person aka your ideal reader/customer I mentioned in the intro of this post.
It’s not a must to conquer an enemy in your story. Enemies are like GPS-navigators: they show readers a direction to go and steps to take for overall well-being.
Lesley Vos is a ghost hiding behind posts on writing craft, content marketing, and self-development. She creates web texts and polishes her writing skills. Specializing in content creation and self-criticism, Lesley develops a habit of doing her best proofreading before she hits “send.” Check out her Twitter.