As more and more established brands embrace brand story telling, I suspect it’ll continue to grow in 2015. Great news for a Brand Storyteller like me, but full of frustration, too. I love seeing folk share their Brand Story, but hate to see brands replace their About Us Page with an Our Story Page, and expect everything to be fine and dandy.
Like all trends, you get your bandwagoners who expect instant results from zero input, but you aren’t one of these, are you? You’re reading this, after all, so I appreciate you want to take your Brand Story Telling to exciting levels.
Good for you, and although I can’t ease all your woes with this post, I do hope to put you on the right track with 10 Brand Story Telling Tips you can implement today. Because we live in a competitive and chaotic world that grows more hectic by the day, and tomorrow’s forward-thinkers are those who embrace their brand story telling right now.
10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR BRAND STORY TELLING
The following Brand Story Telling tips are quickies you can do today, but if you’d like to delve deeper and take your Brand Story to the next level, consider enrolling in the 30 Day Brand Story Course for FREE. Handcrafted by me, for forward-thinkers like you, and sent to your inbox without a single cost to your pocket, it’s pretty much amazing.
Of course, if you’d like to wet your whistle beforehand, these Brand Story Telling Tips are sure to help…
Brand Story Telling requires imagination and creativity, and if there’s one thing in life that kicks your creative juices into overdrive, it’s reading.
The great part about reading is, there are so many possibilities: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Blogs, Magazines, Essays, Poetry…
Seriously, you can’t go wrong, so to kick your Brand Story Telling into gear today, READ. Read something. Read anything. Read a book you’d never think to read, or one you’ve read many times before. I’m serious, you cannot go wrong so long as you READ!
If you’re in need of a little inspiration, consider:
- Disrupt by Luke Williams
- Hooked by Nir Eyal
- The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo
- Choose Yourself by James Altucher
- Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
- The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
- The Art of Being Unmistakeable by Srinivas Rao
These aren’t books aimed at Brand Story Telling per se, rather books that force you to think (some are Fiction, others are Non-Fiction). But like I say, so long as you read something, you can’t go wrong.
2: ESCAPE NORMALITY
No matter how sporadic and spontaneous you may be, we all slip into routine and normality each day. Whether it’s waking up at the same time, going to the same office, having the same drink from the same coffee shop… we all have a routine. For the most part, this is fine; helpful, even.
If you want to kick your brand story telling into gear though, escaping normality helps. For me, I like to take a walk or do yoga. It not only clears my mind, but because I’m exercising, I focus my attention elsewhere. I know other people who run or cycle or hit the gym.
But it doesn’t have to involve exercise. I love working for myself, and the best part has to be the freedom. Most days, I go to the same coffee shops at the same time, but if I want to ruffle a few feathers (when working on a new project, for instance), I hop on a train to Manchester or Leeds and search for a random coffee shop I’ve never been to before.
I walk around a new part of town.
I go to a new town altogether.
This may mean I don’t sit down at the laptop for as long, but this new perspective does wonders for my story telling. I work longer. I slip into the zone for longer. My story telling takes on new and exciting forms, and damn good things happen.
Trust me, when you next hit an obstacle, escape normality and watch what happens. Damn good things, each and every time.
3: WATCH 10 TED TALKS
If you’re on the look out for hundreds of amazing storytellers in a single location, look no further than TED. Watching 10 TED Talks lasts around 3 hours, and in my opinion one of the best ways to spend an afternoon.
It’s not just the topics on offer (which tend to be inspiring and awesome), but the varied ways of sharing a story. Every time I book a slot in my schedule to devour a few TED Talks, I walk away inspired after having my Brand Story Telling ways smacked from left to right.
This is where today’s forward-thinking geniuses hang out, and I dare say impossible to not leave inspired and full of ideas. Again, good brand story telling requires imagination and creativity. Without this, you’ll produce the same-old-same-old. Those who appear on TED are so far removed from the same-old-same-old, it’s absent from their vocabulary.
My advice is to head over, search, search, and search some more. But if you’re lazy, here are few gems to begin with:
Again, it’s not so much about the topics, rather the storytellers. If your brand story telling isn’t ready to break free after a few hours on TED, I don’t know what to tell you…
4: INVITE A FRIEND TO DRINKS
Notice how I’ve put ‘Friend‘ in bold? This isn’t about taking a collegue out for a drink. Or a client. Or anything business related whatsoever. This is about you and a buddy sharing a social chinwag and chatting about this and that.
You see, storytelling’s embedded deep in our human make-up, and until recently, the prime source to share knowledge and wisdom. When we relax and are comfortable, and surrounded by those we love and trust, stories erupt from us.
We begin by telling our friend what we’ve been up to, and they counter with their own tales. Before long, we’re chatting about the good old days, and shared memories, and mutual buddies. We throw stories on the table like it’s natural thing to do… becuase it is natural! It’s one of the most natural things there is.
So, invite a friend for a drink and chat about the good times. As you do, be concious of it. Think about how you feel, what you say, and what you do. When relaxed and comfortable, stories become part of the moment. You also remove yourself from the pressure and environment of work, and let your creative juices roam free.
Whenever I escape into a social setting like this, my story telling ways go crazy. You love and trust your friends for a reason, so go to them, and chat, and laugh, and sit back as inspiration tickles you with its muse.
5: WEAR YOUR CUSTOMER’S SHOES
In last week’s post, I talked about the power of empathy, and how stepping into your customer’s shoes works wonders for your brand story telling. In the end of the day, it isn’t so much about YOUR Brand Story, rather the way you share it, and connect with your audience.
It may sound simple, but in my experience one of the hardest things to achieve. When I begin a new project, I become so wrapped up in it, I forget to consider my audience’s perspective. How crazy, right?!?
In my opinion, the brand story telling examples that truly stand out are those who place their customers at the heart of it. It’s clear they’ve stepped into their shoes and lived their lives. Come sundown, this is what it’s all about.
If you want to get into good habits early, I suggest you forever take a breath, a step back, and ask yourself this rather simple question: How would my customer feel right now?
Again, it sounds simple, but easy to overlook. In terms of brand story telling, it ensures you stay on the right track. In terms of you as a storyteller, it keeps you humble and focussed on the important aspects at all times. Again, this isn’t so much about your story, but the way you share it, and whether you entice your customer to lean in.
Further up this page, I suggest a book called Disrupt, by Luke Williams. It isn’t about brand story telling, but it’s a book I reference a great deal. It’s full of ideas I use with my clients each day.
Whether you read it or not, its takeaway is rather simple: THINK. OUTSIDE. THE. BOX
Be different. Think different. Don’t do the same-old-same-old. If you want to make brand story telling work for you (which let’s face it, you do), you have to delve deep and disrupt yours and your customers’ thinking. I discuss this a lot in The Free 30 Day Brand Story Course, because good, lasting, and impacting ideas begin with an escape from the ordinary.
There are many ways you can implement Disruptive Thinking into your business, and I discuss a few of them in This Post. I’ve found it’s an imperative part of the process, too, because when I meet a potential new client, they nearly always say the same thing:
“We already tell our story pretty well. We know what our story is.”
Yet every damn time, when I dig deeper and shower them with questions, they stutter and stumble into nothing. They’ve devloped these dreaded pre conceptions, you see, and you have, too, about yours and your brand’s story. These pre conceived notions are brand story telling destroyers, because they don’t uncover anything. They lead to the same-old-same-old.
You need to disrupt your thinking, your story, and your entire message. Like most brand story telling aspects, it’s not a skill, rather a mindset. It’s all about asking the right questions, and placing yourself in the right environment. I talk about this more in This Post, but to dig deeper, I recommend Luke’s Book.
Although rather old-school, I urge you to write in a notebook this afternoon, not tap away at your laptop or phone. Don’t get me wrong, I rely on my laptop like a robotic limb, but when searching for story telling inspiration, I WRITE… not type.
It’s a more purposeful act, you see. It tends to take more energy and time to write, and a mistake is harder to correct. It brings you closer to the idea, too, for you place actual pen to paper. It’s a small detail, but in the early parts of a project – when I’m trying to organise my thoughts – I almost always write.
Of course, the real point is to simply get your thoughts on paper. So long as they live in your mind, they DO NOT exist. The moment you throw them on paper though, they’re alive. They’re real. You can see them for what they are, and certain ideas vanish because they make no sense at all, but others flourish… and grow… and take on new forms.
It comes back to the previous section, and how most people assume they know their story. They think they share it well. They understand it, in their mind, but find articualating it beyond impossible. Write it down. Spend time putting your thoughts on paper. This is where it begins. Without this, you’ll forever struggle with your brand story telling.
The old proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step.” Well, I consider writing in a notebook the first step. Typing stiffles this step. Writing doesn’t.
8: SEARCH FOR CONFLICT
Conflict plays an important role in brand story telling. Conflict forces us to feel something, and take notice. Without conflict, you run the risk of a tedious and bland and boring story. Yuck!
The thing is, there’s always conflict. It forever surrounds us. You may have to dig deep and ponder, but it’s there. You may associate conflict with negative feelings, too, but this isn’t the case. When I say conflict, I mean a contradication, or different point of view, or controversial, or something so wonderful it strikes a chord, or sad it brings a tear to your eye.
Conflict isn’t about beginning a war or using controversial language. It’s about standing out, and focussing on aspects that make your customer feel.
Toms story centres around conflict, because it focusses on giving and helping, rather than selling and taking.
Dollar Shave create conflict, not through their curse language, but by calling businesses like Gillette out, and providing a disruptive, alternative, and different point of view.
There’s conflict in your story, too. Maybe it’s about your competitors, or the material you use, or the process you go through each day. What do you different? What do you do that strikes a chord in people? This is conflict, and your story telling needs it.
9: SCARE YOURSELF
When you scare yourself, you change your entire outlook on a situation. In the same manner escaping normaility helps your story telling, a pinch of fear does, too.
I love Noah Kagan’s challenge, where he encourages you to visit a Starbucks and ask for a 10% discount. How often would you be so cheeky? Is the answer never? Of course it is, and this is the point. We’re not programmed to do something like this, and such fear (after the initial panting and shaking) inviogrates us.
Noah dares you to continue to push yourself, too, and ask for discounts at places you know well, and go back to often. Such fear forces you out of your confort zone, and it’s out of your comfort zone when great ideas form. Like escaping normality, and disrupting your thinking, fear kicks your brand story telling up the butt and sets a higher standard.
You consider things you never normally consider. You do things you never normally do.
And if something like this sounds impossible, start small:
- Cold Call 5 Potential Clients (call, not email)
- Ask Someone Out at a Pub/Coffee Shop/In The Street
- Email Someone You Admire
- Call an Ex
- Speak to a Stranger on The Train
However big or small it is, scare youraelf. Do something today you’d never normally do. Afterwards, sit down and write and think and let your mind wander. You’ll surprise yourself with what you come up with.
I consider myelf privleaged to live in a society where I can send a message to someone 15,000 miles away at a moment’s notice. Seriously, how insane is this? We’re pretty darn lucky, right?
Although amazing, it’s stilted our communication skills. We passively speak to dozens of people each day, but can go a week without proper conversation (you know, the kind of face-to-face chat which involves human contact).
Whenever I wish to kick my brand story telling into gear, I surround myself with like minded folk. Similar to inviting a friend for a drink, the act of talking to someone sets you free. It relieves the pressure. You’re able to share your ideas and make sense of them whilst doing so.
I cannot count the times I’ve struggled with an idea or project, only for the mist to clear once I speak to a mentor or friend or fellow entreprenur. You can do this over email, but it isn’t the same. You achieve more with a thirty minute coffee than a week’s worth of back-and-forths…
Oh yes, if you want to invigorate your brand story telling and make sense of everything, I suggest you talk. Talk to those you know. Talk to those like you. Talk and listen and question and talk. It is, after all, good to talk.
YOUR EPIC STORY TELLING AWAITS
Last week, I spoke about how I believe everyone has an inner storyteller, and how it’s engrained in our human make-up. These 10 Brand Story Telling Tips won’t solve all your issues, but they are aspects you can do TODAY.
I encourage you to dig deeper though, and there’s no better way than to enrol in my Free 30 Day Brand Story Course. It’s designed for brand story telling go-getters like you, so I hope you join a group of fellow forward-thinking peeps.
Above all, I hope this post helps, and a BIG thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you’d like to ask me any questions, reach out via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. This is where I take the conversation to the next level…
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