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What is a brand story?

A brand story is a narrative that connects a brand to its target audience on an emotional level. It goes beyond just listing features and benefits to tell a compelling story about the brand’s origins, mission, values, and purpose. An effective brand story allows consumers to identify with the brand and feel a personal connection to it. Brand stories aim to evoke emotion, shared values, and a sense of belonging amongst a brand’s fans and customers.

Why Are Brand Stories Important?

Brand stories serve several important functions:

  • They humanize the brand – Brand stories give a human face and personality to what otherwise would just be an abstract company or product. This allows customers to see the brand as more relatable and approachable.
  • They build an emotional connection – By tapping into emotions like nostalgia, inspiration, humor, etc., brand stories forge an emotional bond between consumers and brands. This leads to higher brand loyalty.
  • They convey brand values – Brand stories articulate what the brand stands for. They communicate the company’s vision, purpose, and values to the marketplace.
  • They differentiate the brand – An authentic, unique brand story separates a brand from competitors. It gives the brand a distinct identity and personality that resonates with target customers.
  • They inspire brand advocacy – A compelling brand narrative turns customers into enthusiastic brand advocates and evangelists. It gives people a reason to talk about and promote the brand organically.

In today’s oversaturated marketplace, brand stories are more important than ever in capturing consumer attention and imagination. Companies with coherent, authentic brand stories have a critical competitive advantage.

Elements of an Effective Brand Story

What are the ingredients of a powerful brand story? Here are some key elements to include:

Origin Story

Where did the company or brand come from? What’s the founding story or genesis of the brand? Knowing the backstory behind the brand helps consumers understand its roots and initial motivations. Even if your company has humble or modest beginnings, that can resonate with audiences who appreciate humble origins stories.

Mission Statement

What greater purpose does your brand serve? What meaningful difference are you trying to make in the world? Brand stories convey a “reason for being” that connects with audiences on a deeper level than just selling products or services. This mission gives the brand deeper meaning.

Core Values

What principles, beliefs, and values guide your brand? What is the brand “philosophy” around things like quality, customer service, innovation, etc.? Knowing the values at the heart of the brand helps customers determine if the brand aligns with their own values.

Brand Personality

What are the distinctive characteristics and personality traits of your brand? Is your brand funny, thoughtful, rebellious, innovative? Defining this brand personality captures what makes your brand unique in the mind of consumers.

Founder Story

For many brands, telling the personal story of the founder(s) provides powerful backstory. What motivated them to start the company? What challenges did they overcome? Founder stories in a brand narrative make the brand more human and relatable. Consumers connect with real people’s stories.

Customer Stories

User-generated content from real customers can powerfully reinforce brand stories. Quotes, reviews, testimonials, and case studies from satisfied customers add authenticity and credibility to brand narratives.

Cultural Relevance

Successful brand stories connect with consumers by embedding the brand within current cultural conversations. Brand narratives that tap into larger societal stories, social issues, or identity issues can capture attention by feeling meaningful and relevant.

Examples of Effective Brand Stories

Here are some examples of brands that do storytelling well and have compelling brand narratives:


TOMS Shoes has a powerful origin story rooted in the founder’s experience. While traveling in Argentina, Blake Mycoskie saw many children without shoes. He started TOMS Shoes based on a simple promise: for every pair of shoes bought, TOMS would donate a pair to a child in need. TOMS brand story taps into consumers’ compassion and their desire to make a difference through their purchases.


Over the past decade, Dove has shared its mission of promoting positive body confidence and redefining narrow beauty ideals through storytelling campaigns like “Real Beauty.” The emotional brand narrative of empowering women resonates strongly with female consumers worldwide.


Outdoor brand Patagonia is known for its commitment to environmental activism and sustainability. Its brand story centers around fighting climate change through business innovation. Patagonia converts eco-minded consumers into brand loyalists by authentically aligning brand and purpose.


Airbnb’s origin story of founders renting out air mattresses to conference attendees to help make rent embodies the brand values of belonging, connection, and embracing new experiences. This underdog startup narrative still resonates with Airbnb’s community.


Pixar tells stories through its animated films that touch people’s hearts. Its brand story is rooted in using technology and creativity to craft unforgettable stories and characters that resonate emotionally with global audiences spanning generations. Storytelling is Pixar’s DNA.

How to Craft an Authentic Brand Story

Here are some tips for developing an impactful brand story:

  • Identify your core brand values and purpose. What principles guide your brand?
  • Research your company history and origin story. Look for engaging moments or insights into what motivated your founders.
  • Interview long-time employees and early customers. Collect anecdotes that capture your brand essence.
  • Look for cultural tension points your brand can address. What societal conversations can you authentically join?
  • Find your brand character. If your brand was a person, how would you describe their personality?
  • Craft an archetypal brand story. Tap into universal stories and characters your consumers already resonate with.
  • Make the story easy to share and remember. Identify key soundbites, moments, or story beats.
  • Use a range of media. Convey your story across video, written content, social posts, branding materials, etc.
  • Keep refreshing the story. Tie in new chapters as the brand evolves over time.

Telling Your Brand Story Across Touchpoints

A brand story should be infused across every consumer touchpoint. Here are some key places to convey core elements of your brand narrative:

  • Website copy and visuals
  • Blog and social media posts
  • Product packaging
  • Print ads and commercials
  • Brand videos
  • Retail store/environment design
  • Email campaigns and newsletters
  • Founder speeches and media interviews
  • Employee training and onboarding
  • Customer support conversations

Wherever consumers encounter your brand, the brand story should come through consistently. This immersive storytelling builds recognition and attachment.

Key Questions to Ask When Crafting Your Brand Story

Here are some key questions to reflect on when developing your brand story:

Brand Origin What were the founding circumstances and motivations? What problem did you want to solve?
Core Purpose What meaningful impact does your brand make? What difference do you exist to make in the world?
Values What principles and beliefs guide your brand? What matters most to you as an organization?
Personality If your brand was a person, how would you describe their qualities? What makes them interesting?
Evolution How has the brand grown and changed over time? What key milestones shaped who you are today?
Community What community has formed around your brand? What connects your consumers to each other?
Culture Relevance What cultural values or conversations does your brand story tap into? Why does it matter right now?

Reflecting on these key questions will help uncover narrative threads you can weave into an authentic, stirring brand story.

Mistakes to Avoid When Crafting Your Brand Story

Here are some common pitfalls to avoid with brand storytelling:

  • Making it too sales-focused – The story should aim to connect emotionally, not just push products.
  • Being inauthentic or exaggerated – Stories that aren’t genuine will backfire. Avoid stretching the truth.
  • Crafting a bland story – Have a distinct point of view. Generic stories are forgettable.
  • Telling an inconsistent story – Make sure brand story aligns across channels and touchpoints.
  • Failing to evolve the story – Refresh the story over time as the brand grows and changes.
  • Forgetting your audience – Keep perspective by crafting the story specifically for your target consumers.

Brand stories falter when they feel manufactured, disjointed or not true to who the brand really is at its core. Stay authentic and consistent.


A compelling brand story creates consumer affinity and loyalty on an emotional level. Stories humanize brands, convey values, generate interest, and ultimately drive sales. Brands that successfully craft and convey authentic stories have a measurable competitive advantage today. But brand stories must be living narratives that evolve over time as the brand grows and changes. They require consistency across channels and touchpoints. Most importantly, they must tap into universal human truths in order to resonate and forge lasting connections. In a crowded marketplace, the best brand stories capture consumer imagination and win their hearts.