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Storytelling - Or how to build a strong community around your brand

“We are, as a species, addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” - Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human

Everybody loves a good story is an adage that you’ll hear a lot in your life and I’m happily part of the ones which spread the word.

Why?
Because it’s basically true. Since the dawn of humanity, we’ve been telling each other stories as a way of transmitting our common heritage & culture, the journey of our ancestors and, if we consider a more down to earth approach, about our daily lives.

But once again, why?
There is a scientific explanation behind this fact. When we hear a story, a hormone called Oxytocin is released in our brain and makes us feel more trusting, compassionate & empathetic towards the storyteller.

You do not hear a story and feel like you’re an outsider of the tale but rather like you’re part of it. You feel like YOU are the hero and YOU lived the situation.

And guess what?
That’s incredibly powerful to your brand!

- - -
I recently went to an amazing conference named “Create a Cult around your Brand through Storytelling” presented by Tonje Bakang (founder of the streaming website Afrostream & director at “The Family”) & Jenna Black (Director of brand partnerships at EyeEm) and hosted at the Berlin headquarters of “The Family”, a potent community of entrepreneurs.

In this article, I’d like to review some of the insights & recommendations those two amazing entrepreneurs have shared with us during the conference.

- - -
First off, let’s start with a statement: “Worldwide, all & any products are the same. What differs your brand from another is your community.”
It’s bold, it’s brief, it’s true. One thing to keep in mind & in line with this statement is that when you launch your brand, your future community will be based around the early adopters you manage to attract. And let’s put it simply, you want those to become more than early adopters, you’ll want them to become ambassadors of your brand.

So why should they care about your brand and not one of the competitors?
Mainly because of the story you’ll craft for them.

But what will this story be about?
Yourself. Entrepreneurs need to talk about themselves for people to care because those people want to see if you, as a founder, are like them, REAL. So be passionate about what you tell in order to gain traction.

How do I stay real, authentic, then?
Once you’ve understood your audience & the way they think, you’ll want to stay true to their culture, to the culture your building around your brand, to YOUR culture. You’ll want to understand it’s language & vocabulary and ADD to it: find your own voice & vocabulary - remix it.

Go deep in being unique, who’ll care about you if you don’t open yourself & explain WHY they should care.

Some tips:

1) Nurture & listen to your community!

Organize real-life events, create a FB community based on users feedback, send personalized goodies & go the extra mile.

Use the story of one of your early-adopters as a basis for empathetic connection with your core audience.

Craft different types of stories based on the people you speak to.
a) Investors -> come on… it’s mainly BS.
b) Media -> Sure. Our brand is the best brand!
c) But for users -> GO DEEPER!

A piece of advice; go deeper in storytelling for those who bring you the money, the key decision makers, let them be users, sponsors, partners, etc.

2. Identify your users’ story & values - Align with them!

Find a matter or a topic that your audience is particularly keen on fighting for. Do some branding exercise that brings you no money but will be loved by your community.

Do things that do not scale. Meet & greet, small events, coffee with some users, free invites to the studio where you work. People will love it & will be more apt at becoming your brand ambassadors.

If some users engage a lot with your brand, empower them, onboard them even! Give a chance to their own initiatives, after all, they’re part of the culture you’re building.

Last but not least, even if you target a large market, start communicating to a niche audience. It’ll allow you to study them & later scale things up.

PROVE that you understand the culture BETTER than the COMPETITION!

3. Have an opinion, stand for something!

In B2C  - a brand of razors which advertises women with hairs
In B2B  - business people are also people. They also like stories, not only performance.

Storytelling is not just about social media management. Founders should handle their community management for at least 2 years. Do not try to please everyone as an intern would.

Why?
Mainly because they have the deepest insights into the culture they’re building. They are able to be radical & clear about the image they want to vehiculate through their company. They can be more HONEST than any intern community manager when it comes to users’ requests.

4. Get creative & scrappy

Do what you can with what you have & do not tie revenue to everything you do!

If you’d like more insights on how to craft compelling stories for your customers, I can not but recommend you highly enough the amazing book named “Building a StoryBrand” by Donald Miller.

About Bonanza Design

We’re a creative studio based in Berlin and our clients span from industry leaders to promising startups. Engaging in a new venture implies thinking globally from the get-go but also requires channelling. From experience, we observed that clients abound with creative energy about their ventures but often lack the appropriate guidance to carry them over. Learning how to develop this kind of critical thinking is a continuous and essential process.

Feel free to discuss with us if this article resonates with you to some extent.