Building a Brand Story that means something, and makes an impact in your customers lives, is no easy feat. But I’m here with 50 of the greatest Brand Stories in the world to help guide and inspire you. As we edge towards 2016, I want to share some of my favourite brand stories from 2015, and those about to shake the industry in 2016 and beyond.
Today we countdown from 50 – 36, but in the coming weeks I’ll share the best brand stories I know, link to what makes them stand out, and detail why I love them so. And at the end of this brand story journey resides a FREE Ebook you can download, devour, and keep handy for when you craft your own epic brand story.
Ready to feel inspired and learn from the best? Good!
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50 : BUFFALO TRACE
In 2013 I did a similar list to this, and Buffalo Trace topped the pile. So, why now, a mere two years later are they at number 50? Well, I don’t want to regurgitate that 2013 brand story list, so there are only a few brands that appear on both. Buffalo Trace are one them, and it’s because their brand story continues to be aces!
I recently wrote a post dedicated to Buffalo Trace’s brand story, which details a great deal more than I will do here. Simply put, I love how they invite you into their distilling process, show you around their distillery, and do so without you leaving your seat.
A huge part of any brand story involves interacting with your audience, and Buffalo Trace do this better than most. They also happen to produce a rather tasty bourbon, but we’ll leave that for a future post.
49 : DOLLAR SHAVE CLUB
I’ve written about Dollar Shave Club and their disruptive brand story in the past. To be honest, their entire tale centres around that rather infamous video of theirs.
The rest of their story isn’t really told, which is why they’re number 49. Still, they show how impacting a video can be, how important it is to stay true to your message, and that it’s possible to break down the iron curtain of larger competitors. This remains one of my favourite brand stories despite it lacking in so many areas.
It’s a bit of a cult classic, and I continue to share this example often because I believe many brands of varying types can learn a great deal from their approach
48 : DOLLAR BEARD CLUB
I just had to follow up Dollar Shave with Dollar Beard, because it proves how powerful being a copy-cat can be.
Let’s face it, their video is a carbon copy of Dollar Shave’s. Their style and approach, and the type of person they communicate to are the same. I tend to hate copy-cats, but on this occasion I love it. Why? Because they remain true to their own message, and in the same way clean shaved fellows screamed for a brand like this a few years ago, us beard folk require it now.
Sometimes copying another brand story is fine. It’s a dangerous path to follow, but The Dollar Beard Club showcase you can knock it out of the park (so long as you understand your audience, understand your message, and remain true to your style).
47 : SPOKE
I’m a huge fan of Spoke and their chinos, and although their brand story lacks a great deal, there’s something about their minimalistic approach that appeals to me (a trend you’ll notice throughout this brand story countdown).
Remember, it isn’t just your website where your brand story shines. Spoke do a fine job through social media, their minimal blog remain far better than most, and the way they connect with their customers (folk like me) is real. It doesn’t take long for you to recognise whether this is a brand for you or not.
I fell in love within seconds, and even though they keep things super simple, it’s a brand story I appreciate and relate to.
I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing and connecting with Srini, and to say he provides a sliver of inspiration is quite the understatement.
He possesses a unique style, and this shines through his writing, his podcasting, and his overall brand, Unmistakable Creative. Through the help of Mars Dorian and Sarah Steenland, this is visual storytelling at its finest.
Unique, impacting, immersive… I love how this brand story entices you further in without doing a great deal at all. There’s a lot of content to devour at Unmistakable Creative, but it all begins with their simple and visual story.
45 : FIVE GUYS
Not only do Five Guys produce some tasty milkshakes and fries, they share a rather marvellous brand story, too.
In particular, their Fanatics Section stands out, for it dives into the stories of their customers. The best brand stories tend to not only involve their audience, but centre it around them. All of a sudden it isn’t your story, but our story… a genuine narrative that involves and immerses your most valuable folk.
What Five Guys does is simple, yet oh-so effective. They also happen to continue this great story inside their restaurants, and very much remind me of Jimmy Johns (a brand that made 2013’s best brand stories list).
44 : CONTACTUALLY
Every now and again you come across a tool that changes how you work. This happened to me when I found Contactually, and although the story they share isn’t always communicated in the best manner, once you’re involved in their world you find yourself slipping further and further down their rabbit hole.
Which, let’s face it, is what brand storytelling is all about (heck, it’s what marketing is all about!)
I love their minimal video on their about page, and although the rest of the page is okay at best, it comes together to share their culture well. Culture drives so many brand stories, and in Contactually’s case it certainly rings true. They keep things simple, but that’s no bad thing.
43 : EVERYTHING HAPPY
Everything Happy were on 2013’s Best Brand Stories list, and although I’ve tried hard to no regurgitate, I couldn’t resist but place them where they belong. Why? Because their brand story rocks!
It’s simply a charming story that’s borne out of wonderfulness. After all, how many seven years olds mastermind a business like this? Not many come to mind, and this alone sets them apart from most. In order to share a good brand story, you must appreciate what your message is and what sets you apart.
Everything Happy get this. They understand who they are. They understand who they serve. Everything after this remains charming and whimsical, and difficult to resist.
42 : LEWIS HOWES
And so we meet the first individual on this list of great brand stories. Lewis Howes’ story doesn’t remain on his about page, or even his site, and if you happen to follow him, you’ll appreciate he oozes his story at all times.
He has a style and he portrays it 24/7. In a similar manner to Gary V, you know when Lewis Howes is on screen or on the mic or sharing his words somehow. What separates him from many online experts is how he comes across visually. His site… his visuals… his copy… it’s so effortless yet stylish.
I didn’t come cross Lewis until later in my online adventure, but I got him in an instant. For me, this is a biggie when it comes to brand storytelling. You need to create an instant impact in your audiences lives, and Lewis does this. A fine brand story that continues to evolve and grow.
41 : MOLESKINE
Dare I say we’ve all owned a Moleskine at some point in time. They’re great little products, but what about their brand story? This was a tough one for me because their site gives me a headache. It’s too much. There’s too much info and too much everything.
Yet the community they’ve created… Brilliant!!
In the same vein as Five Guys, they transform their story into their customers story. It becomes and us story, and a genuine place where folk who love Moleskine products can come together and create. Seriously, there’s a treasure trove of community sourced stories to enjoy here.
But it does annoy me, which is why it isn’t higher. Like I say, there’s just so much… stuff!
40 : OUTTHINK
Tim’s Grahl’s another cool cat I’m lucky to have interviewed, and his company, Outthink, produce a rather simple, yet ridiculously effective, brand story.
It all centres around their About/Client Page. Think about this for a second. They don’t separate who they are (their about page) with who they serve (their client page). They’re each to their own, which when you consider things for a few minutes, you realise is business 101 (basically).
By showcasing a few of their beloved clients, they show you all you need to know. It’s clean. It’s simple. It’s bloody genius!
Like I keep saying, it’s all about combining your story with you audiences’. A lot of brands do this, but the way Outthink do is rather rare. Can you tell I’m a fan?!?
39 : LITOGRAPHS
When I first came across Danny Fein and Litographs (via Kickstarter), I knew I’d be a lifelong fan. I’ve written about their brand story in more detail before, but it’s their product journey that impresses me the most. It’s one of the reasons I love crowdfunding, because it forces the maker to invite you into their world.
Largely done via video, Litographs approach their product storytelling in a way too few do. They actually don’t share these videos enough on their site if you ask me. They’re hidden, whereas they should remain front and centre at all times. That’s how good they are, and it’s what hooked me from the instant I found them.
I don’t care who you are or what you do, there’s much to learn from these book-loving fiends.
38 : HUGH HOWEY
In many ways Hugh Howey’s the odd one out in this list of epic brand stories. He’s a writer, you see, and not any old writer, either. He writes fiction, self-publishes, and these days spends most of his time on a rather large boat.
Now, he does own a stellar website that puts most writers to shame (created by Outthink), and I love how his brand story delves into him, rather than his books. HOWEVER, it’s what he does on Facebook and social media that sets him apart. It’s also why he’s on this list of marvellous brand stories.
To say he’s transparent and honest is an understatement. He forges genuine friendships with his readers, and he rarely talks about his books. Does he talk about writing? Sure. But for the most part, he focusses on life, on them, and on his more natural adventure. Whether that surrounds self-publishing, sailing, the people he meets, or the places he go, he makes you feel part of the story. Seriously, if there’s one thing you do after reading this, follow Hugh on Facebook. You won’t regret it.
37 : TRELLO
I ummed and ached about placing this brand story so high. It’s simple. Too simple, maybe.
But there’s something about it’s minimalistic approach that connects with me. It goes to show that a cheap, cheerful, and easy approach can work. Does it need to look nice? Yes! Does it need to focus on you and share an interesting tale? Yes.
But not all brand stories need to fly off the page and feature an array of magic. Short and sweet is often enough, and I think Trello prove this.
36 : JENNY BLAKE
One of my favourite posts of late is the one I wrote in aid of Jenny Blake and her lovely site. If you’d like to learn about the power of sharing, giving, and offering a transparent insight into you and your work, I encourage you to read it.
Above all, be sure to check out Jenny and her ways because you’ll love her I’m sure.
Most of the magic comes in the Toolkit Section. It isn’t the prettiest or most impressive page you’ll ever see. But what will impress you, and I hope, inspire you, is how she Gives… Gives… Gives… and doesn’t ask for a damn thing in return. This is how you spark a movement and develop a true following. This, let’s face it, is what brand stories are all about.
There we go, the brand story countdown stops for now. We’ve just worked our down from number 50 to number 36, but fear not for there are many great brand stories still to come.
I hope you take serious inspiration from these brands and their stories. They’re amongst the best I know, and they tend to be the type of business that continues to evolve, tweak, and adjust their stories as they move forward in time. Your brand story never ends. As such, the above examples may change, but I sense they’ll remain amongst the world’s greatest brand stories for quite some time.
But this is just my list. Be sure to share your own favourite brand stories with me via Facebook and Twitter. This is where the conversation continues, where we become friends, and where you introduce me to new brand stories each and every day.
Cheers for now.