EPISODE 5: Core Stories Every Brand Needs
In this episode we will cover:
- Using storytelling as a strategy for relational connection
- Identifying the 5 story types (with examples)
- How to select your best stories for content marketing
- Practical tips for putting your stories to good use
You might have heard the phrase, “Words tell, stories sell” before, but what does that mean for you and your business?
Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate and build relationships between your brand and your audience. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to know which stories to tell… after all, there are so many!
In this 15-minute episode, Jessi + Marie make storytelling simple by digging into the 5 core stories every brand needs.
You’ll learn how to:
- Use storytelling as a way to build real, authentic connection with your audience.
- Identify the 5 core story types (with examples), allowing you to focus your storytelling strategy.
- Select your best “go-to” stories for content marketing, so you’re never left scratching your head.
- Put your stories to good use, so you can nurture relationships between you and your audience.
Grab your headphones and a notepad, because you’re going to want to follow along with this one!
Once you finish, we’d love to challenge you to share one of your stories on your social media platforms! Tag us on Instagram @northstarmessaging so we can see yours!
Your Core Stories are an important part of your Brand Voice. To learn more about how to capture your own Brand Voice, get started with our Copywriting Character Quiz.
Want Jessi + Marie to talk through your biggest content conundrum? Submit your current content struggle here, and we may feature it in a future episode!
Welcome to the Brand Your Voice Podcast, where we're digging into how you can create personality-driven content that connects and converts. I'm Jessi... Marie:
...and I'm Marie. We're the co-founders of North Star Messaging + Strategy where we support business owners and outsourcing content without sacrificing authenticity. Jessi:
Every brand has a unique voice that sets it apart. We're digging into how to capture the way your brand communicates, from the words you use to the stories you tell so you can create more compelling content that strategically helps you meet your business goals. Marie:
And if you choose to outsource that content, you'll be able to do so with confidence, knowing your brand voice is in good hands and you can reclaim your time. We're so glad you're here and hope you enjoy this episode.
Welcome to episode five of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Today, we are talking about five core stories that every brand needs. And I'm really excited to talk about this one, because storytelling is such a pivotal piece of your content marketing and that's something you hear all the time. But often we don't actually talk about what kind of stories you need to tell. We just say, "Go tell stories." It's sort of that build it. And they will come mentality. Jessi:
But when there's not a focus around the types of stories that you're telling, it can feel a little scattered. However, when you take some time to use storytelling as a strategy for building relationships, then not only does it help you stay true to your brand voice, stay true to your brand, build real relationships as opposed to just trying to make sales, it actually leads to sales. Because you are building that bridge between yourself and your audience. And story is such a great way to do that. And we want to talk today about which stories have the biggest impact when it comes to building those relationships. Marie:
Exactly. So we've identified five different core story types that are great at building those relationships, building trust, and ultimately leading to sales that don't feel icky or gross. So the five different types, I'm going to go ahead and say all of them. And then we're going to go into a little bit of detail about each one. So again, if you have the chance to have a pencil and paper nearby or you can type a note to yourself in your phone, I would encourage you to just jot these down. Because this is going to be food for thought for you. And we are going to have homework for you. So the more you're able to take notes of what these are, the more direction you'll have there.
So the five different core story types that we've identified at North Star are your origin story or your journey, your purpose, or why story, your innovation story, your expertise story, and your influence story. Jessi:
And we'll go into about each one of these and all five of them are really helpful. And before we talk about each one individually, I want to mention that these are story types. You may have more than one story under this category. So you probably will only have one origin story, but you may have multiple expertise stories. And that will make a little more sense as we talk about the individual types.
So let's go right in with the origin story. This is a story that most people think about when they think about telling stories. It's the story of their journey, how you got to where you are, where you started from, what challenges you overcame, what help you sought out and how it really turned out for you. It's the story you often see on a brand's about page. Sometimes it's about the individual. If it's a personal brand, it may be about you specifically. If it's about a company, it may be the company's origin story. But it always has that human touch and that sort of hero's journey aspect to it that really allows someone who is reading the story or hearing the story to picture themselves in the place where you work. Marie:
Exactly. So a great example of this, if you like mac and cheese, like I do, there is that brand Annie's, you look on the back of the box and it talks about how they had this. They took mail in or phone orders and the phone was just ringing off the hook. And it was just this real like homey mom and pop origin story. That's a great example for a brand that also draws in the human element, talks about the founders, kind of where we were. I don't know anything about Amy's, but like I can assume by reading that, that they've grown a lot since then. So it's a way to really humanize the origin of the brand. Jessi:
I love that. I just learned that you read Mac and cheese boxes. I didn't know that about you. Marie:
Yeah. Annie's Mac and Cheese. They do not have a sponsorship for us. I'm just saying this. Jessi:
But Marie brings up a really good point is that you will also see origin stories often on packaging. Or if you go to a restaurant, you'll often see it on the menu. And these are often those stories that sometimes are like the rags to riches type stories. But it's important to note that they don't have to be. A lot of times people get stuck because they say, "Well, I don't have a rags to riches story. I don't have something where I started out in this one position where it felt like anything different was unattainable, and then I attained it."
And that's okay. It's not so much about going from rags to riches, although that may be your story. It can also be something smaller. It's really just about getting from point A to point B. Marie:
Right. I mean, it can even just be like, I knew I was meant for entrepreneurship because I was selling lemonade on the corner as a five-year-old like, whatever. It doesn't have to be anything stupendous. It just has to be real. It doesn't mean you can't tailor it and trim it and curate it. But yeah, it's just it's a real story. All of these are real stories. So the next one- Jessi:
No fake stories allowed. Marie:
No fake stories. We're all about authenticity here. Purpose or why. So this is the why do you get up in the morning story. Why are you and the members of your company passionate about serving the people you serve, providing the products or services that you provide? What is the difference that you see that they make? What is the vision that you have for how they can affect the world or people's lives? And what is the ultimate impact that you think you could have?
Now, this could be the impact of the product or service itself. It could be the impact of a philosophy that you teach. It could even be the impact of your giveback strategy. There's a lot of ways you can take this. And I encourage you to think about stories that illustrate the seedlings of that why of that purpose. So maybe if you have a client story where maybe your thing is freeing women entrepreneurs to have financial freedom, and you actually have a success story about this, you can really hold that up and talk about that client and say if her name was Sandra. I want to create Sandras all over the world. So that's an example of how that could look. Jessi:
Yeah. And this is a really good opportunity for you to tap into your vision and what you really want to create in the world. And this was one example where you may have multiple versions of this story, but it's all pointing to the same purpose. It's all pointing to the same why. The next story after the origin story and the purpose story is the innovation story. And this is the story that really shows your audience how you stand out. What makes you unique from other people who are in your industry doing what is similar? And we have two questions that we like to use and like to pose, to help you think of the stories that makes the most sense to go within this category. You don't have to ask yourself both, pick whichever question resonates most with you. The first question is what is happening in your industry that you disagree with? The second question is what opportunities are being missed in your industry? So what do you disagree with or what opportunities are being missed? And your task is to find a story that represents whatever your answer might be. Marie:
Exactly. Exactly. And really, these are sort of two questions that are two sides of the same coin. One is just posed a bit more maybe positively, I guess. Not that there's anything wrong with disagreeing. In fact, this is my favorite question to ask clients, because they're like, "Let me tell you what." And they get up on their soap box. So the stuff where you get on your soap box, it's probably there's a reason for it. And it's not just that you have a pet peeve. It's that you've seen how things are crumbling because of this.
Now people really aren't being served. And so that also probably means that you have a story. Maybe you personally have been burned or your clients have been burned by people who have practices that you don't think are good for them. Or maybe when you were able to see a new alternative and a new opportunity and take it, you were able to really elevate someone's outcome more than you could have otherwise. That's the kind of story that you can really lean into here. Jessi:
Yeah. So an example of this from our own business would be that an opportunity we saw that was being missed in our industry was taking the process that many writers do intuitively of capturing and replicating the voice of their clients and finding a way to document it so that it wasn't really up in the air. Whether someone who's looking for a writer is going to get one of those writers who naturally can replicate your voice.
We created a process that closed that gap. And we have several stories, countless stories really of the clients who have seen the benefit of that innovative piece that we've slid into our industry as a whole. Marie:
Exactly. Okay. So next step after origin, purpose and innovation is the expertise story. So, yes, everybody is tempted I think to hold up that stuff that they've worked really hard for. I've got this degree, I have this certification, the stuff that adds those letters to the end of your name. All of that is really valuable. And obviously if it is helping you be a better servant for your clients, then awesome, great. And there's no reason you can't talk about that.
However, not everybody is interested in that or even really knows what it means. So for instance, I was working with a client who's a physical therapist and he mostly works directly with other physical therapists. And so in that case, yeah, the letters after his name really means something to them. He also has a practice. And so just individual patients coming to him off the street, they're just like, "I don't know, dude. I don't know the difference between this set of letters and that set of letters and what the qualifications mean." They're looking for something else to signify expertise. And there's a lot of ways that you can illustrate that.
It could be years in business. It could be number of clients or customer served. It could be customer happiness or satisfaction levels. And it also can be the outcomes that you help your clients achieve. There's so many ways to sort of look at this, but ultimately a more effective and human way of conveying your expertise is generally trying to find a story. So a lot of times this does look like a case study. Jessi:
Yeah. And there's a lot of overlap between this expertise story. And the next one that we're going to talk about, which is the influence story, because the expertise story is really showing that you know what you're talking about. Because let's be honest, there are people who have the degrees and the certifications who in practice might not be serving as well as someone else who has those same letters and those same degrees. And there are some fields where the degrees don't matter.
It's really about the boots on the ground practical experience that you build up. And so we need a way to really show our clients that we know what we're doing. And it's through those stories that you're able to do that. Now the final story is the influence story. And we always kind of caveat this with this has nothing to do with being an influencer. Has nothing to do with, "Oh, I have however many million followers on Instagram." That's not necessarily the important part. Marie:
Because we don't have those. Jessi:
We do not. But we do still have influence. And you as a business owner also have influence. You have influence over your clients' experience, your clients' results. And while you can't promise and/or guarantee any sort of result, you can retroactively look back and explain and share the journeys that your clients have been on. And so when we're thinking about an influence story, we're thinking about what stories can we tell that show the long-term impact of the work that our clients have done with us. Marie:
Exactly. So another way to look at this is if you think back to conversations that you have with people, what are the aha moments, the light bulb moments that you help bring about through the conversation? What are the ways in which you've repeatedly see yourself having a conversation with someone and they go, "I never thought of it that way before, or you know what? I'm going to go do that after this." You are influencing the way they think about something or the way that they behave about something. So that's really what the influence is about.
So I challenge you to think about times where you've had those conversations and someone goes, "Oh." Has the light bulb moment. What does that look like? Great. Okay. Think of one specific instance where that happened that becomes your influence story. And as Jessi said too, there's lots of ways. I mean, you can have multiple stories under each of these. These are just broad categories. Jessi:
Yeah, absolutely. So we recommend you start with one story under each one, just so that you have that as a starting point and you can get comfortable with sharing these different stories with your audience. But then over time, especially as your audience list grows, your client list grows and you have more experiences with them, you may find yourself, "Okay, once I wrap up a client engagement that becomes a new expertise story or an aspect of it becomes a new influence story. And maybe another aspect of it becomes an innovation story because we did something a little bit differently here and I helped spearhead that." And so constantly thinking about how everything you're doing is feeding into these stories is really important towards getting those conversations going with your audience who hasn't necessarily decided to work with you yet. Marie:
Exactly. Okay. So it's homework time and the homework is going to help you take this from theory into practice. So we want you to pick just one of these types of stories. That's intriguing you, or maybe one that you're like, "Ah, I've got something good." Now next I want you to either write out the story or I honestly prefer that you record yourself talking out the story. Pretend you're telling it to a friend, a client. Maybe you're pretending that you're on a podcast being interviewed talking about the story. I think verbal tends to be better because we do less self-censoring. So try that if you can, if you can feel comfortable with that, if you have the technology for it.
And then I want you to take that audio recording or that written version of the story and I want you to see if you can develop that as a piece of content for your audience. It's up to you how you do that. It could be on your about page. It could be something that you put on social media. It could be an ad that you run just to gain some following or some clout there. It's up to you what you do with it. And it may be like, "You know what? I'm going to use this for the next time I am being interviewed on a podcast." And they're like, "How'd you get your start, Bob?" And you're like, "Well, I have prepared for this moment." So there you have it. Jessi:
Yeah. So go ahead and give this homework a try and use it as a starting point for thinking about all of the stories and adding to them over time. And make sure you keep that in a place where you can easily access it, easily refer back to it and easily iterate upon it so it becomes more than one piece of content over time and fuels your entire storytelling strategy. Marie:
Exactly. All right. Happy storytelling. Thanks for joining us for this episode of the Brand Your Voice Podcast. Make sure to visit our website northstarmessaging.com where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify, and more. Jessi:
If you found value in this episode, we'd love for you to leave us a review on iTunes and share it with your friends. Thank you and happy content creating.
For additional content strategy and branding tips, check out northstarmessaging.com/blog. Also, please tag us on Instagram and let us know you’re out there! @northstarmessaging