I was recently in the market for a new hoodie. It was the middle of winter, smack bang in the centre of an Arctic blast in windy Wellington, and my thinner layers weren't cutting it anymore. All I wanted was a big, thick, cosy hoodie to keep out the chilly winter air.
NopeSisters Clothing is a social enterprise fashion company based in Wellington, creating dope stuff for good causes. They make graphic tees, hoodies, and other apparel that raises money and awareness for breast cancer, sexual abuse, youth suicide, period poverty, eating disorders, and more.
Their Mum's journey through breast cancer inspired their first design, the mastectotee (for Breast Cancer Awareness Month). Their NOPE tee design responded to a personal teen sexual assault experience, focusing on sexual consent.
There are a million and one options for hoodies out there, but when I was looking to buy, I knew where I wanted to invest my dollars.
NopeSisters have a compelling brand story that connects their audience with their brand and their products. The hoodies and t-shirts are awesome, don't get me wrong, but that's not what makes their sales. What get's people engaging, buying and advocating is their brand story.
I bought their hoodie because I felt something when I heard their story, and I wanted to support their mission. I'm proud to wear something with such power behind it.
The story-driven company thrives because its people have a collective narrative identity that gives them a sense of purpose and creates a cohesive culture.
— Bernadette Jiwa
As someone with Relator as one of their strengths and the Advocate as their personality type, I am especially easily sucked in by engaging, emotional, stories! Although I'm a sucker for a good story, I'm not the only one.
According to research by Headstream, if people love a brand story, 55% are more likely to buy the product in future, 44% will share the story, and 15% will buy the product immediately.
Also, neuroscience has confirmed that humans purchase based on emotions, so if your customers or clients are anything like me, a good story is the best way to appeal to their feelings.
Even if your brand story isn't about issues as intense as breast cancer or sexual assault like NopeSisters, it still has power.
I spoke to a photographer on a recent strategy call who started his business after he and his partner missed out on photos of their newborn baby. He never wanted another parent to experience that, so his mission is to capture those memories for them. The fact that he takes photos sells me on his services way less than this story does. I don't even have a baby, and I was convinced!
The thing about this photographer is that he didn't realise how moving and compelling his story was. Many entrepreneurs are in the same position, yet as Bernadette Jiwa says, "you already have a story; it's how you choose to interpret and use it that's key to your success."
Whatever you do and however you got there, your brand has a story, and it needs to be told. Take a trip down memory lane, uncover the tale, and share it with the world.
By creating a captivating brand story, your business can increase the perceived value of your product or service, earn the loyalty and engagement of your audience, and clearly communicate your vision and purpose to the outside world.
When your audience hears, understands, and relates to your story, they will find it easier to connect to your brand. As they come to know the people, the purpose, and the passion behind the business, they will see you less as a cold, faceless corporation, and more as a passionate, purpose-driven human being.
In turn, this will increase how much they know, like, and trust you, which is a proven formula for selling and growing your impact.
Your brand story is fundamentally brilliant at engaging your audience. As Donald Miller, author of StoryBrand, explains, "the average brain spends 30% of its time daydreaming. It's a survival mechanism. But everyone pays attention when a story starts."
Our brains react in remarkable ways when we hear a story, and we can't help but be drawn in. We relate to situations, empathise with emotions, and feel compelled by characters. Connecting with a brand's story tugs on the heartstrings of a customer like nothing else. This is the key to inspiring, influencing, and rallying your audience around your purpose.
As well as engaging your audience, brand stories are excellent at uniting your employees and motivating them around a mission. The history of brands and their stories of conception explain the why behind their purpose. Understanding and taking on board this story will empower your team to individually and collectively push your mission forward.
We achieve maximum impact only when all five elements of our story—backstory, values, purpose, vision, and strategy—are prioritised over time.”
— Bernadette Jiwa
So, from awareness to connection, to purchases and advocation, telling your brand story is one of the best ways to engage with your audience on a real, personal level. As stated in Forbes, 'turn your brand into an experience they can consume – that's what will turn customers who pay for your product/services because they need to fix a problem into a rabid tribe that will support your success, follow along, be loyal, and comes back for more.'