Brand storytelling has become a bit of a buzzword in the content marketing space in recent years.
It’s easy to understand why its been so widely adopted into digital marketing strategies — especially on Instagram where growing a highly engaged following through content is the key to growth on the social media platform.
Brand storytelling has an inherently human connection that flies in the face of bro-school tactics that littered early digital marketing with jargon terms like “funnels” or “lead magnet.”
Instead, brand storytelling is not an aggressive sales tactic, but rather a fundamental component of building a beloved brand that people know, like, and trust for years to come. Essentially, storytelling content is the fuel that ignites a deeper connection with your target audience.
Brand storytelling involves capturing the events that sparked your company’s inception and continue to influence its vision and mission. It inherently helps you become relatable to your audience, increases retention of your message, and establishes credibility.
Crafting a compelling brand story is similar to creating the characters in your favorite books and movies. You know. The classic tales we all heard growing up with an intriguing beginning, captive adventure in the middle, and a fairytale ending for our hero.
These memorable narratives have a few things in common: They are instantly captivating, have a memorable transformation, and have a wow-factor result that teaches a lesson or causes the reader to take action.
These three factors are not just reserved for fiction writing or fairytales — They are also the elements of all great writing that engages audiences.
Storytelling in marketing means using relatable narratives to communicate a brand’s message. It’s the job of the copywriter to draw an analogy that allows the reader to relate his or her own experiences to the topic.
Humans have been telling stories since the dawn of time. Legends and lessons contained in stories are passed down from generation to generation. A compelling story stands the test of time and keeps us coming back for more.
But why is storytelling so impactful?
Humans are wired to respond to narrative. Neuroscientists have found that story is the best way to capture people’s attention, commit information into their memories, and forge close, personal bonds.
As humans, we have always had a natural desire for stories and will continue to create and consume them. Therefore, your audience won’t tire of brand storytelling. It’s not a trendy sales tactic that will soon disappear from marketers’ strategies any time soon.
The science behind storytelling confirms your audience’s craving for storytelling content.
According to the online marketing company Single Grain, storytelling increases Oxytocin levels, a hormone that promotes the feeling of love, bonding, and well-being. What brand wouldn’t want to invoke those warm and fuzzies within their audience?
Brand storytelling is great in theory but how does it fit into an everyday content strategy for small businesses? Here is the ultimate guide to using brand storytelling on Instagram.
Real talk before we jump into the details of storytelling strategy: Instagram engagement is the number one way to grow your social media presence.
This is because having an engaged audience not only helps you build a community online but also helps you get discovered by your dream clients faster — and brand storytelling is a proven strategy to boost Instagram engagement.
It’s so effective because it builds that all-important know, like, and trust factor. Here are three more ways brand storytelling boosts Instagram engagement rates:
The secret to brand storytelling on Instagram is honing in on micro-stories that bring the brand’s values, mission, and purpose to life. Before you jump into writing your brand story know that it requires more strategy than fairytale fantasy.
It’s essential to hone in on your brand messaging and to conduct target audience research before you put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?).
There are many ways to tell and share your brand story on Instagram. These are the three must-have narratives you need to be effective at telling brand storytelling in your content marketing strategy: your origin story, your hero’s story, and your Cinderella story.
Above all, it’s crucial to make sure that your target audience sees themselves reflected in your journey. They have to relate to it or it won’t be successful.
Your origin story illustrates why you do what you do in your business. It draws on your expertise and background to bring your bigger why to life.
One thing to always keep in mind is that your brand stories are never really about you (more on that in a second). Relatability makes an origin story shine. Base it on truth, purpose, and inspiration so you can harness the power of storytelling to connect with your Instagram followers — and attract new ones.
BRAND ORIGIN STORY PROMPTS:
Spoiler alert: your audience is the hero of the story you’re crafting, not you.
Think about the hero’s journey. If you’ve seen a Disney movie, you already know this all too familiar framework: The hero (your audience) embarks on a difficult, finds a trusted guide (you and your offer), and is able to achieve a fairytale ending through a transformation (with the help of your offer).
In the context of your brand storytelling, you are the trusted guide whose role is to help the hero achieve their goal. Your story serves as a way to showcase your unique selling proposition (what makes you the guide to trust?) and provides social proof in the mind of your ideal client.
Firstly, know who your audience is and how what you offer intersects with what they want/need/desire. Secondly, demonstrate how your expertise, offers, and services have effectively helped others on their hero’s journey.
UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION PROMPTS:
We couldn’t get through a blog on brand storytelling without mentioning Cinderella.
It’s the classic storytelling framework because it shows the transformation. This is obviously great for testimonials but also works really well for expressing how a concept you are talking to your ideal client about can change their lives.
TRANSFORMATIONAL STORY PROMPTS:
Writing storytelling captions are among the top ways to reap all the benefits of brand storytelling on Instagram. Here are a few key copywriting tips to craft an engaging Instagram caption through the art of storytelling.
A beginning, middle, and end. That’s what we are taught about story flow in elementary school.
In your brand storytelling, it’s much more compelling to put your reader in the middle of the rising action rather than a longwinded “Once upon a beginning, I was born in Brooklyn.”
Instead, think about the flow in terms of the current situation/problem, the moment of realizing the transformation is possible, and the solution/end feeling. This framework shows the reader how they too can overcome adversity and solve their pain point.
Brand Storytelling Example:
“I was plagued by a chronic case of second-guessing, shiny-object syndrome, and a battering sense of “not-enoughness” that made everything feel 1,000,000X harder than it should. And when I finally did start to get a bit of traction in my business…… I quickly realized: “I’m building the wrong freakin’ business” — Amy Porterfield
Use everyday moments that tie into your larger message, lesson, and brand values. This works really well for educational posts, which tend to be dry without a compelling narrative.
This style works great in an Instagram caption or when designing an engaging Instagram carousel post.
When you want an idea to stick, try telling a story, anecdote, or analogy.
And it doesn’t have to be long. A two-sentence story hook works if it is relatable. Watch any TED Talk—you’ll see how speakers quickly relay stories to the audience in less than 30 seconds.
Colors, smells, textures. These details make stories compelling. For example, “She walked into the meeting with confidence.” Becomes: “She sashayed her way into the board room with the confidence of a kid in a Batman cape.”
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