A well-told story… At All Colors of Communication, we believe it is the foundation of any brand’s success. But what is a well-told story? Is it different for every business or are there recurring elements that allow your company to define its own storylines?
We raised this question during a roundtable discussion we hosted at our office with a panel of four entrepreneurs, each from a very different field. Kaat Van Severen is Head of Fleet at ASTARA Western Europe. With seven brands under her belt, she has to find the right angles to piece together the story she shares with her customers. Sofie De Lathouwer is CEO at chocolate manufacturer Gudrun. When she joined the company two years ago, she had to figure out how to combine the building stones of the company’s rich history and make it a well-told story.
When Maxime Cools, COO at Fujitsu Belgium, launched IT recruitment agency CHRLY, he decided to start a completely new story and not focus on the name of parent company Fujitsu. And finally, Anne Cornut (aka Mama van Vijf) joined the panel to share the view on a good story from an influencer’s perspective. She began blogging after the birth of her fifth child and now leads her own media company Maison Slash.
Four different stories and perspectives. So, what are the characteristics of a well-told story? Below you find three of our findings from the discussion:
A commercial featuring a farmer stirring a large pot of milk may be a nice way to market a yoghurt brand, but it is far from authentic. As a viewer, you immediately realize that the yoghurt is produced in a big factory with machines instead of farmers. Therefore, the word “authentic” is often misused.
In the past decade, social media has turned authenticity into a metaphor of its original meaning. People now use public channels like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to give their audience a glimpse into their personal lives. This has even become a strong business model for influencers who test products and share a brand’s story from their own perspective. Extending this to our definition of a well-told story, being authentic means telling your story as it is. It’s about finding the right audience and making sure those people identify with your brand and products.
How can you achieve that? Just be honest and transparent in the way you communicate. For example, if sustainability is a core value of your business, make sure you include that in your story. But if it’s not relevant today, then there is no need to surf along with the many other companies that use the topic as a springboard for their activities. Younger audiences in particular will immediately see through a story that is not really authentic.
Keep it simple! This is the most important rule for writing a good story. Don’t make it more complex than necessary. Start from the values that define your brand and build your story around that. It’s always a good idea to speak with your employees and hear what drives them to be part of your story. Be proud of what you do and convey that in all your communications. The most credible stories are the ones that stem directly from your DNA and translate the foundation of what your business stands for.
If you want your story to stick, you also need to repeat it often enough. When customers understand it and people in every layer of your organization begin to adopt your words, you know you have done a good job. Eventually, even job candidates may spontaneously approach you because of your story.
Finally, make sure you listen to your audience and comprehend their concerns. Take the automotive industry, for example, where new brands are popping up like mushrooms. People are no longer looking for the story of a car brand’s history. Instead, they are confronted with the shift to electric vehicles and want to know what electric or plug-in models match their needs. Successful car brands translate their story to answer any questions and deliver the vehicle that meets the customer’s personal expectations. Don’t be afraid to personalize your message, as long as you make sure the story is consistent.
In fact, this is exactly how influencers work. When they promote an insurance package, they will not focus on the benefits that insurers want to distinguish themselves with. Instead, they look at challenges of the people in their audience who need insurance and start the story from their experiences.
Also, always be open to criticism. You can use it to make your story more plausible. After all, feedback provides the best opportunity to improve and grow. You can even take it one step further. Instead of telling the story yourself, why not give the stage to your customers through testimonials?
In short, a well-told story is more than a narrative that looks good on paper. It must be relatable and credible, based on the core values of not only your company, but also your people and customers. That’s what makes it truly authentic.
Ready to write your own brand’s success story? If so, we look forward to exploring it with you. At All Colors of Communication, we have the experts who know how to ask the right questions to determine what sets your company apart. Contact us for more information!