How to Develop an Effective Brand Story


Daniel Blaho

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Brand stories are essential for any business as they provide a powerful and authentic narrative that customers can connect to. Done properly, they should be woven into an overall strategy that communicates the company's values, mission, vision, and purpose, while engaging customers on an emotional level and inspiring them to become part of the company's mission.

Frequently Asked Quetions

What is a brand story?

A brand story is a narrative of your company’s mission and values, and how it connects with your target audience. It should be engaging, and should make an emotional connection with your customers.

What are the key elements of a brand story?

Just as with any story, it's all about the framework in which the story is being told. While you should focus on specific aspects of your brand strategy, it's important to stick to a narrative arc to deliver an effective story. Having a framework for telling your story is essential.

What is the purpose of a brand story?

A brand story is the driving force behind your business - your "why" for getting up and doing what you do every day. It's about connecting with customers and inspiring trust. Research has demonstrated the persuasive power of stories, and how our brains respond to them.

What is branding?

Branding is often referred to as the process behind developing physical branded collateral of an organization that includes the logo, print materials, visual ads, website, etc. But more accurately, it is the process of developing a brand strategy that encompasses your entire brand.

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Why do people call companies brands?

People often refer to the word “brand” as a literal replacement for the word “company”. Such as, “What brands have super bowl commercials this year?”, or “I saw one brand do this.” However, this may be a misnomer because a brand is the identity of a company, not the company itself.

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What does it mean to create a brand strategy?

Brand strategy is the process behind developing a unique and consistent voice and appearance in order to guide marketing, culture, and some business strategies. 

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What is brand language?

Brand language is how a company speaks, how that speech is communicated, and what they call everything. Developing a clear brand language gives an organization meaning, depth, and scope.

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What is the difference between voice and tone?

Voice is defined as what an organization says; whereas tone is how they say it. Both are equally important to define and keep consistent.

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What is a brand promise?

Simply put, it is a promise a company makes to its buyers. Delivering on what you say your going to do builds trust - brand trust.

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Your brand story is the foundation of your public perception of your business. It's the origin tale that explains who you are, what you do, and why you do it. An effective brand story will connect with your audience on an emotional level, transporting them into your world and making them want to be a part of your mission. Here's how to develop an effective brand story for your business. In this article, we'll cover:

  • What is a brand story and why do you need one
  • How to write an effective brand story that engages your audience
  • Tips for telling your brand story in a way that resonates with customers
  • Examples of brands that have nailed their branding and storytelling strategies
  • The importance of consistency when telling your brand story

There are however some prerequisites to developing your brand story in an effective way. A few things to consider before you start in here would be:

What is a brand story and why it's important

Creating a brand story can provide incredible value to any business, as it gives customers something tangible and authentic that they can connect with. When structuring this narrative, the focus should always be on the customer: how your brand fits into their lives and how it makes them feel good. This doesn't need to be flashy or boastful; keep things simple, but true. To make sure your brand story is consistent and effective, it should be woven into your overall strategy. Just like a great narrative in literature or film, if done properly, audiences will become emotionally connected with your message and what you represent.

Examples of Companies with Strong Stories that Resonate with Customers

Since the concept of branding has gone from the think tanks of non-profit fundraising to the mainstream corporate channels, there have been hundreds of thousands of great examples of brand stories. But let's look at this from a more cynical view point. Think about the difference in brand story versus what the company actually is. Here are just a few key examples:

  • Apple is, at its most basic, a computer hardware manufacturer, but they have long been a poster child when it comes to powerful brand stories. From their iconic products to the Steve Jobs story, they are a great example of how powerful a brand can become with an engaging story. A hard question to ask yourself: did/do they actually do anything truly unique? Regardless, they're a long-standing superpower in today’s economy largely because of their story. Fun fact: Apple puts their core values in the footer of every page of their website
  • The late Anthony Bourdain was a writer and chef, but his collection of amazing stories from all corners of the planet that made up a good chunk of his own brand story. Was Anthony just a man with a couple of TV shows? Yes, but his unique eye and strong understanding for the human condition made him an icon and his brand story admirable to say the least.
  • Toms makes average shoes for Americans, but their mission to make a positive social impact through giving shoes to children in need heisted them to the limelight and made them a multi-million dollar company what seemed like overnight. Hard hitting question if you ever bought a pair: why did you buy their shoes? Because of the buzz or did you really like the itchy tweed?
  • BMW undoubtedly makes a great vehicle, but is it "The Ultimate Driving Machine?" Yes... yes it is In my opinion 😂. However at their core, they are just a car company that used their acumen for quality and a great brand story to set themselves apart from every other car brand starting with a commitment to four simple words: The Ultimate Driving Machine. This is also a great example of how a brand story and vision was baked directly into a company’s strategy and culture.
  • Notion is a newer company (and a product we use 😉) that rethinks the way that productivity and business tools should be accessed and used. Are they anything more than an emerging tech giant not unlike what we’ve seen over the past 15 years? Probably not, but their brand story is undoubtedly making waves.
  • StitchFix uses simplified distribution and technology to change how customers update their wardrobes and save time and money. But are they any different than all the other tech-focused clothing e-commerce companies? Aside from their shopping method of working with a “stylist,” They are not too different, yet their brand story and mission spun up countless knockoffs to their process.
  • Spotify transformed music streaming through their innovative platform… but is it any different than Rapsody back in the day? The idea of a subscription based music platform has been around since the late 90’s/early 2000’s. Did they just enter the market at the right time when consumers were getting used to subscription based pricing? Had it been long enough since people stopped buying physical copies of their music? They are surely different from the origins of online music streaming today, but what makes them different in the publics’ eye is just their brand and platform.

All of these companies above have a few things in common. They positioned themselves with their audience in a way that they were solving a problem or delivering on personal needs. They all leveraged their brand story to differentiate themselves from their competitive market. But the most important part is that they all made promises in their brand story and delivered on them unwaveringly.

Tips for incorporating your brand story into marketing efforts

Incorporating your brand story into marketing materials is so important to ensure that your potential customers can get a sense of who you are as a business. Start by doing some research into what kind of topics and tone of voice resonates with your target audience. Once you know that, use creative language and eye-catching visuals in your marketing materials so that readers can easily get an understanding of your brand story. Remember not to overwhelm readers with too much information all at once - keep it brief yet engaging! Finally, make sure the quality is top-notch so readers are impressed with your message and have increased trust in you as a business. Brand trust = dollar signs.

Steps for developing an effective brand story

Crafting an effective brand story is no walk in the park, but it's totally worth the effort. To get started on developing your best brand story, first you need to identify your target customer's core problems and/or their emotional needs. Once that target customer segment is identified, focus on creating a strong brand message that communicates your values, and how you can help solve those target customer’s core problems. After that, outline specific actionable steps for customers to take to use your product or service. Make sure your story includes perfect visual elements for maximum visibility so potential customers feel inspired and motivated enough to investigate your product further. The general process for writing and distributing your brand story is:

  1. Identify your target audience(s) and define them as best as you can - we have another blog post in the pipeline that will go into more detail on defining target audiences.
  2. Outline your brand story and elements needed using the list in the next section.
  3. Talk to your audience. Take the time to really understand their pain points, needs, and wants.
  4. Make sure you have some kind of brand strategy put together - even if it’s just defining your voice and tone.
  5. Formulate your story using classic storytelling frameworks
  6. Write and refine in your brand story using real-world examples while stating your mission and vision
  7. Test your story with your audience starting small. Distributing your story with your current clients and close contacts is a good place to start. Revise and test before you move on from this point because the next step is the big one…
  8. Strategically distribute your brand story. Do this through all of your channels and measure everything.

Define your Target Audiences

Defining your target audience is an essential part of building a successful brand story.

What is a Target Audience

A target audience is a specific group of people that you are aiming to connect with and engage with your story.

To start, you need to define your target audience demographically and physiographically.

What is a Demographic?

A demographic is a statistical, data-driven way of describing an audience. Demographics refer to the characteristics of a population, such as age, gender, income, race, education, and occupation. This data is used to better understand the needs and interests of a specific group of people.

What are Physiographics?

Physiographics describe the physical, emotional, and lifestyle characteristics of a population. This type of information is not always easily quantifiable, and it often requires additional research, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups, to gain insights into a particular target audience. Physiographically, you need to factor in things like location, lifestyle, and interests. You can gather this data through surveys, interviews, online research, and focus groups. Additionally, you can use analytics tools to track customer behavior and gain insight into their interests. With this information, you will have a much better understanding of your target audience and be able to craft a story that resonates with them.

Once you have identified your target audience, you can begin to craft your story to be tailored to their needs and interests. You can gather this data through surveys, interviews, online research, and focus groups. Additionally, you can use analytics tools to track customer behavior and gain insights into their interests. With this information, you will be able to create a more effective story that resonates with your target audience.

Outline: What Should a Brand Story Actually Include

A brand story should be different and it should reflect and be formed from the particular brand strategy of a company. There is no suitable one-size-fits-all approach. It must be visually captivating, carrying core values expressed in an approachable, relatable manner through compelling storytelling. This is how different brands can create personal connections with their customers, differentiating themselves in the market. Crafting a successful brand story requires thoughtfulness and efficacy, capturing a novel way to showcase your corporate identity and generate customer loyalty. Here is a helpful outline to get you started:

  1. Organizational History - How the company was formed and why.
  2. Purpose - Why you do what you do
  3. Values and Positioning - What value you bring to the market and why they need it
  4. Culture - What internal values do you have and why
  5. What you do - What it is exactly that you do (so many people skip right over this - define your services with intention)
  6. Mission statement - What the overall goal of the organization is
  7. Vision for the Future - What future goals the organization has (this should be customer centric - bring them along for the ride)
  8. Brand Persona - If your organization was a person, how would you describe them?
  9. Company Facts - List key facts about the company that have value to your audience
  10. Key people and bios - Don’t be shy. Tell the world and celebrate your key figures in the organization.

Talk to and Test Your Story with Your Audience

Once you've pondered through everything, written something up, and gone through internal channels, it is important to seek external feedback. This is especially important if your company has the resources to conduct formal consumer testing. This type of testing can help to ensure that the message your brand is conveying resonates with the intended audience. If your company is smaller and less established, it is still possible to get feedback. Sharing your brand story with a trusted friend or colleague is a great way to get an understanding of how the story resonates emotionally and functionally. Examples of questions you could ask them or yourself to help gauge where you stand include:

  • Do you feel a connection to the story?
  • Does the story make sense?
  • Who is the target audience for this story? (go back and ask yourself this repeatedly)
  • What makes this story unique? Can your competition say the exact same thing?
  • What is the main takeaway from this story? Make sure you have one! This is overlooked quite often. Don’t leave your reader with the feeling of, “Okay… now what?”
  • What emotions do you want readers to feel? What thoughts or feelings does it evoke?
  • How will this story be shared? Will it fall on deaf ears if it’s micro distributed? Are there any long-format options that make sense?
  • What challenges have been overcome in telling this story? Are there any? If not, you need to be more vulnerable in way of connecting with people on a human level.
  • What are the key elements to this story? Did/would your test audience remember it after 3 days?
  • What do you want the reader to remember?
  • How does this story demonstrate the brand’s values? Are the values clearly tied back to the customer?
  • What are the main themes of this story? This can be controlled in the storytelling framework.

Return to your story and incorporate this external feedback. Repeat the process with multiple test groups before you finalize your draft.

Incorporating your Brand Strategy into your Story

The difference between a brand strategy and a brand story lies in the purpose of each. A brand strategy is about the overall direction and vision of a brand, while a brand story is about the message and emotion that a brand wants to convey to its audience. A brand strategy is the framework from which a brand story can be derived. It outlines the goals, values, and objectives of a brand. A brand story, on the other hand, is a narrative that connects the customer with the brand and creates an emotional connection. It should illustrate the values and objectives of the brand in an engaging and captivating way. A brand story should be crafted with intention and should have a clear message that resonates with the target audience.

Build Your Brand Story Using Classic Storytelling Frameworks.

Storytelling is a powerful tool for conveying engaging and relatable messages, and classic storytelling frameworks can provide a great starting point. We touched on this before, but let’s really dive in here because this may be one of the most important parts of delivering your story. Here are a few examples of great storytelling frameworks:

  • The hero's tale (departure, initiation, and return) is a classic storytelling framework in which the protagonist embarks on a journey and ultimately succeeds in overcoming their challenges. It is a great way to illustrate the journey of a brand and the struggles they faced while still delivering a positive message. Through this framework, the brand can share their story in a captivating and relatable way, inspiring their audience to take action. It is also a great way to demonstrate the values and goals of the company while engaging the audience with an emotionally evoking narrative. Use caution with this framework as your brand can come off as boastful or braggadocious.
  • The rags to riches story (oppression, opportunity, overcoming, reward) is where a character starts with nothing and ultimately achieves great success. This framework can be used to illustrate the brand's growth and success. It can also be used to demonstrate the potential of the brand and encourage customers to get involved. Finally, it is also a great way to illustrate how the brand has achieved success against the odds and overcome challenges. This type of story can be motivational and inspiring for the audience, making it a great way to engage them. A strong marketing tip here and word of caution would be to typically not use this framework in a luxury brand. It may sound crass, but people that have always had wealth and means don’t like to think too much about the struggles of the everyman. Instead, walk them through a new perspective in a journey story.
  • The journey story/milestones is another storytelling format that brands can use to share your story. This framework follows the protagonist as they journey through different challenges and obstacles, ultimately achieving success. It can help to demonstrate the brand's core values and goals, and illustrate their journey in a relatable and engaging way. Similarly to the rags-to-riches story, a journey can be used to illustrate the brand's growth and success, motivating customers to get involved and be part of their on-going successes. This type of narrative is great for inspiring the audience and demonstrating how the brand has achieved success against the odds. This is a great framework for most entry-level storytelling as it doesn’t require too much backstory. A young or scaling organization can gain traction with audiences using this framework as most humans are attracted to the framework at a primal level.
  • The big idea (stake, claim, conflict, resolution) storytelling framework is a favorite of tech companies, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are looking to convey their ideas in an emotionally evoking manner. This framework allows the brand to illustrate what it took for them to come up with and implement their big idea. It can also be used to demonstrate how the brand has held true to its vision and values, inspiring customers to become part of the story. Lastly, this type
  • The Pixar framework (every day… one day… because of that… because of that… until finally…) is a simple yet very effective strategy for storytelling (like 18 academy awards effective). This framework takes the audience through a journey of change, highlighting the brand’s success story in a creative and captivating way. It's like a coming of age tale, but it can be used to illustrate a company’s core values and goals, or to tell a unique story about how the brand has overcome obstacles to become successful all through a single change. Because this framework is all about change or a juxtaposition, it is an ideal framework if your organization has had a major shake up that it's looking to leapfrog or build upon. Sorry if we just ruined every Pixar movie for you.

No matter which storytelling framework you choose, it's important to ensure that it resonates with your target audience and reflects your values and objectives. Crafting an effective brand story takes time and effort, but it is well worth it in the end. By creating a compelling and emotionally evoking story, you can differentiate your brand from the competition and create a loyal customer base. Use classic storytelling frameworks to structure your narrative, and always keep your target audience in mind. With the right message, you can drive engagement, build trust, and foster customer loyalty.

Compose: Tips for Writing a Brand Story

  • Create a storyboard for your brand story that outlines the main plot points and characters
  • Keep it focused on the customer.
  • Focus on creating compelling characters that people can relate to
  • Highlight the unique selling points of the brand in the story
  • Use visuals to illustrate the brand story
  • Connect the brand to a larger narrative arc through incorporating the storytelling elements such as suspense, surprise, and emotion and what we’ve talked about here.
  • Create a compelling call-to-action at the end of the story to inspire your audience
  • Write and refine in your brand story using real-world examples while stating your mission and vision. Showcase the brand’s values and how they align with the customer’s values.
  • Keep an eye to the future. Don’t write this story for now. Write what you are committed to for the future. If you are intentional enough to write a brand story, you ought to be intentional enough to follow through on promises you make in your story.
  • Test your story with your audience starting small. Distributing your story with your current clients and close contacts is a good place to start. Revise and test before you move on from this point because the next step is the big one…

Strategically distribute your brand story.

Once you have your story crafted, it's time to share your captivating journey with your audience. Strategically distributing this information is essential for gaining customer loyalty and trust. Start by using creative language and eye-catching visuals in your marketing materials so that readers can fully understand the story and be impressed with the quality of the messaging.

In order to effectively share your brand story with your target audience, you need to distribute it through all relevant channels and tailor it for each one. Whether it is by sharing snippets on social media, discussing it during interviews, or including an in-depth look on your website's landing page - make sure you put your best foot forward and display your story with the same level of passion and zeal you had when crafting it. Put yourself in your customer's shoes and consider what content resonates with them most.

If your company has physical stores, make sure the brand story is visible and present when customers enter. Not only can this help create a deeper connection with the customer, but it can also give them a better insight into who you are as a brand. Place it in prominent spots throughout the store such as on checkout counters, walls, and product displays to create a visually stimulating experience that customers can relate to.

Furthermore, platforms like email newsletters and ads are also great ways to spread the word about your story. Incorporate visuals, clever messaging and other elements that will draw attention from your viewers and keep them coming back for more. Additionally, make sure you use consistent branding across different channels and demonstrate the same level of passion in all your content.

Finally, consider hosting events and workshops to share the story in a more intimate setting that customers can interact with. This is a great way to communicate your values, build relationships, and engage with people on an emotional level - something that no ad or website can do.

Brand story development doesn’t end with publication. Part of a brand story is a brand’s continued engagement with customers while you continue to install the essence of its values with your team. After you start posting your story, invest time in the following:

  • Engage with customers by responding to user comments.
  • Encourage customers to share your story.
  • Track social media metrics to see which versions of your story get the most attention.
  • Analyze your metrics and use these insights to adapt and improve your story in the future.


Not sure where to begin when it comes to getting your story out there? Crafting engaging stories, visuals, and events tailored to your brand message can be overwhelming. To ensure a comprehensive brand communication strategy, start by developing one. Our guide on developing a brand communication strategy can provide you with more information and resources.

The importance of brand stories cannot be overstated. Whether you’re running a small business or a large company, having an effective story is essential to connecting with customers and creating an emotional bond. While each brand story is unique and must be tailored to meet the specific needs of your business, mastering the core components will give your story longevity.

Adapting your story to the future with insights and tracking engagement metrics across all platforms, from messaging to social media posts, email newsletters, and ads, will ensure your story reaches the right people in the most effective way. To determine which marketing channels will be best suited for you, consider these tips.

Now it's time to get started on cultivating your own unique brand story! Do you have a favorite brand story? Share it with us - we'd love to hear it! Working on yours and need some feedback? Send it over to us at!