How do you tell if your brand story skills are lacking? One of the most important aspects of a company is the story that they tell about themselves. In fact, one of my favorite sayings is “your brand will thrive or die based on the story you tell” that, and “I like pie!”
Luckily, you can follow a few guidelines to make sure that your storytelling is on point. Here are the 10 most important rules we’ve found that a story needs to follow to see success. We call them “The 10 Commandments of Storytelling.”
If you finish this blog and are still looking for more info on how to get better at storytelling, consider checking out Lights, Camera, Sales, our video marketing masterclass.
1. Thou Shalt Know Thy Audience
Think about Facebook for a second. Mark Zuckerburg didn’t start with a million audiences. He started with one! By growing and owning one audience instead of spreading himself out, he became a megalith in his industry.
(If you don’t know how to find your audience, we’re happy to help. Read through our branding basics blog then fill out this business discovery brief. We’ll reach out afterward with our own input and video ideas tailored toward your business.)
2. Thou Shalt Disrupt
You have to shake up what everyone expects. One way you can do that is by offering similar services. For example, we offer a service called The Video Bot that allows you to create videos based off of $10,000 video templates in minutes. Why not use The Video Bot while you’re finding your perfect audience? The Video Bot will make your videos for you so that you can focus on outreach.
You can also use guerilla marketing tactics, combine genres, and more to add a unique flair to your messages.
So long as you’re focused on disruption, your story will stand out.
3. As Moses said, “Sell the Hole, Not the Drill”
We talk about this a lot, but good storytelling always centers around the benefit you provide to your customers, not just about how great your product is.
Think about it, if you were seeing a drill for the first time and the salesperson showed you how fast the drill could spin a bit, you wouldn’t know why they were so excited by a fast, spinning, round piece of metal. Instead, if the salesperson showed you how easily the drill could make a hole by spinning the drill bit, that makes a lot more sense!
So, when you’re telling a story, talk more about the benefits than you do the features. If you need help turning a feature into a benefit, add “so that…” to the end of your feature. A “so that…” turns a brighter laptop screen into “a screen that stays brighter so that you can work better on sunny days.”
4. Thou Shalt Focus on the Experience
Everything is about the experience.
It’s hard to connect with an idea. It’s easy to connect with an experience. The more clearly you can convey the experience of using your product or being in the environment you’re describing, the easier it will be for your audience to connect with the story you’re telling.
If your audience connects with you, you’ve just created a recurring customer.
5. Thou Shalt Have High Stakes in Your Brand Story
Think about blockbuster movies. Popular movies are about saving the world, defeating a monstrous shark, gathering all-powerful artifacts, or someone getting tablets from a talking hedge.
You won’t see a blockbuster that’s about someone coming home from work and ordering pizza because that story isn’t interesting. Sure, it’s relatable, but there’s not enough drama to make people sit down and watch for an hour and a half.
So, how can blockbusters show you how to tell your brand story? Well, the higher the stakes your company faces, the better your brand story will be at converting new customers.
6. Thou Shalt K.I.S.S. – Keep it Short and Shareable
The more precise and condensed your message is, the better. Think of when John deGroot’s Hemmingway tells the shortest story, “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”
That story is fantastic because it’s easy to read, easy to understand, and filled with emotion. Think about phrases like “from slow, to fast,” “from boring, to exciting,” and “from forgetful to a photographic memory.” Each of these would be a great base message to focus on in your marketing videos.
The shorter, easier to understand, and more filled with emotion a story is, the better it will be at converting future customers.
7. Thou Shalt Keep An Air of Mystery
This is a lesson best illustrated by one of the best movies of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit.
The movie starts with the framing of a plucky cartoon character, Roger Rabbit—big surprise, right? The rest of the movie then focuses on Roger uncovering a conspiracy against him (with hilarious hijinks included, of course).
The movie doesn’t get much more complicated than that. Still, it maintains a large following 33 years later simply because the story was THAT full of well executed mystery.
If you can create a mystery at the start of your story, you’ll have your viewers hooked!
8. Thou Shalt Not Be the Hero of Your Own Story
This comes back to selling the benefits of your product. The more you talk about yourself and how great you are, the less interested your customers will be. Instead, focus on your customers. Make them feel like an underdog. Tell a story they can relate to.
Underdog narratives are the reasons why Die Hard, Rocky, and other great movies took off. Suddenly, viewers could see themselves as the hero—as someone who could fight their way to the top with cop school, a boxing coach, or any other kind of training.
Make your listeners the hero of your story and you’re in.
9. Thou Shalt Keep Relatable
If you can get your audience to relate to you, then you’ve become more than a faceless brand. Now you have an identity that people can bounce off of and connect with.
The more relatable your presentation, the more likely your audience will listen to what you have to say.
10. And It Was Said “Conflict Is Interesting”
Drama is a hook.
Again, think about movies. Within 12-20 minutes of the start of a film, a big choice will be made by a main character. Once that choice is made, you’re either in or out as a viewer—there’s rarely a middle ground. You keep watching because you care about the character you’re watching or the story that you’re told, or you’re out because the setting didn’t follow all of the commandments that we’ve laid out above.
I call this story structure the E.P.I.C. story structure, but that’s a lesson for another time.
So Let it be Said, So Let it be Done
Follow these rules, and it will be hard for you to go wrong as you progress through your professional storytelling life.
Once you’ve committed these to heart, then maybe it’s time to come up with your own rules as well. After all, like any rule, our commandments were made to be broken!
Want some help telling your brand story? Reach out right now, we would love to help. Your story starts here!