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Brand Storytelling Marketing

Think Like a Novelist: Completing Your Brand Story With a Strong Theme

Business & Marketing Strategy / May 12, 2021

Alright, you’ve made it to the final part of our Brand Storytelling series. Whew! What a ride, huh?

Before you get started, make sure you’ve read the other blogs in the series.

Part I: Prepare to Amp Up Your Brand Story

Part II: Building Strong Characters for Your Brand Story

Part III: The Plot Really Matters

Theme… the universal idea

Ensuring your brand story has a “theme” may seem a little over the top, but trust me, it’s not. Despite what some people claim, themes aren’t just pretentious literary elements writers use to make their stories seem deep and meaningful. If done correctly (i.e. not forced and made up last minute because you forgot), then it could further increase your relatability with your audience. It could also help your brand story have a lasting impact. And seriously, why tell a story if no one is going to remember it?

Some people see the theme as what your story is about, but I’d take it a step further. I’d argue the plot is more so what the story is about, but the theme relates to what your story actually means. At the end of the day, you have to know not only why you’re telling your story but what you want people to get out of it. You should think, “Okay, what am I saying here? What is the point? What overarching topic is my story touching on?”

This idea of a “point” has nothing to do with marketing goals… I know, I know, isn’t that always the point? Yes and no. Right now, I’m asking you to switch hats for a moment and not think about monetary gains or business growth. Because when you think of the why behind storytelling, your audience isn’t going to resonate with anything that has to do with marketing. Just saying. They’re going to relate to something real, something they can learn from, something that leaves an impression. 

So now that you’ve thrown marketing out for a sec (if you haven’t, here’s your final chance), it’s time to really sit back and think about your theme. Keep in mind, even though this is the final section, you should consider this throughout the process of crafting your brand story. You don’t want to create a story without a point. That would be pointless… bad joke, sorry. 

Theme development 

When you begin developing your theme, of course you want to consider your audience, but you also want to remain true to your company. Don’t concoct a theme you believe will sit well with your audience if it doesn’t sit well with you. People will probably notice the inauthenticity, and even if they don’t, you will. 

As a result, you’ll have to deal with telling a story you don’t fully believe in. I’m not going to tell you what to do, but in my humble opinion, honesty works a lot better in the long run than building a false meaning in hopes of pulling more people in. Basically, you can sustain the truth; remembering what you’ve “made up” could get a little muddled as time passes. 

With that being said, you can start off by considering some common themes in literature:

  • Good vs. Evil
  • Courage
  • Love
  • Coming of Age
  • Redemption
  • Death 
  • Revenge 
  • Power/Corruption
  • Survival
  • Prejudice/Discrimination 
  • War
  • Fear
  • Family

I’m going to stop here because the list could go on forever, and you don’t have to choose the ones I’ve highlighted. In fact for marketing, some of them may be irrelevant depending on your backstory. 

Pause for a second. 

In many cases, people begin confusing their theme with their plot. When crafting your brand story’s theme, don’t simply throw out a mini synopsis of the story itself. What I want you to do is think about your plot, then pull out a concept or topic you want to touch on. As you do so, you may gain more insight on your story itself, what you value the most, and your underlying beliefs.  

To give you an idea, we’ll go back to our cupcake shop. The cupcake shop’s theme isn’t “a shop that wants to sell custom cupcakes to celebrate diversity.” It’s a good hook to pull people into your story, but your theme is more than that. As an owner and/or marketer, one of your biggest questions should be: “Why do I want to celebrate diversity?”

Saying something like, “Because it’s the right thing to do,” won’t really get you too far, so you know not to rush the process. After sitting down with your team, you’ve decided your theme or underlying topic is discrimination. You want to celebrate diversity because in many cases, people who are deemed “different” don’t receive the same treatment. You’ve noticed that sometimes people are too afraid to choose who they want to be in fear of that treatment. 

Important side note: If you’re going to use discrimination or something along those lines, please be careful and think through everything. Don’t say this is your theme just because it’s popular and you don’t want to get “canceled.” I promise you at least one person will see through it, and if that happens, someone may call you out on it. Be genuine. Do your research. Actually believe what you preach. 

Anyway… 

Once you’ve decided on your theme of discrimination, you can dive even deeper. This allows you to connect your story with current events, local stories, personal experiences—anything that can supply a human element to a business story. Remember, people trust people more than they trust companies. Then you can weave these elements into your brand story to add more depth and dimension. 

What to do with your brand story

Crafting your brand story is only one piece of the puzzle. Next, you want to continue using it to guide your marketing and operational efforts. You’d be surprised how many ways you can integrate what you’ve just built. Your story can influence:

  • Promotional videos
  • Social media campaigns
  • Company events
  • SEO content
  • Web design
  • Brand voice & standards
  • Community involvement
  • Company name
  • And more 

At the end of the day, your brand story becomes your company’s identity. It’s what separates you from other similar businesses and helps your audience trust you.  When you have a strong story, strong marketing often follows. This also gives you a chance to really think outside of the box and get creative.

Final example. After reading all of this, go out and get yourself a cupcake; you deserve it. 

Say you have created the perfect brand story that’s authentic, complex, and encompasses the why behind your business. Now, this is your chance to get that story out there, and you decide to push a rebranding launch campaign. 

Here’s what you and your marketing team have come up with: 

Step 1: Redefining brand standards to fit your story (i.e. adding more color, creating a warm, welcoming feel, making your brand voice more casual and relatable)

Step 2: Building a new website that better matches your brand story/makes the message more accessible to users

Step 3: Creating a “Get to Know Us” video that outlines what your cupcake shop is all about and why 

Step 4: Developing a “Be Who You Want” message to connect all of your marketing efforts together 

Step 5: Starting an audience engagement social media campaign using a specific hashtag where you allow people to share their own stories of overcoming discrimination and/or how they are celebrating diversity

Step 6: Implementing PPC and social media ads that highlight customizable cupcakes and how they relate to your brand story

Step 7: Making SEO content that reflects your message (i.e. unique cupcake combinations to try, fun quizzes to determine “the perfect flavors for your personality”, YouTube baking tutorials from different staff members that showcases the diversity within your company)

The final note I want to leave you on is this: Your brand will continue evolving… at least ideally. You never want to stay stagnant, and you want your story to thrive no matter the time. So whenever your audience grows and changes, grow and change with them. Update your story. Retell your story from a different angle. Storytelling is a continuous process, and instead of forcing the story, let it naturally unfold. 

The experts at Lifted Logic can help you craft the perfect brand story

We’ll be the first to say that creating a brand story doesn’t come easy, and there’s nothing wrong with seeking outside help! Whether you’re a new company, want to continue your story, or are completely rebranding, Lifted Logic has the tools and expertise you need to succeed. 

We don’t BS you into quick fixes and fad techniques. Instead, we transform your short- and long-term goals into effective web design, custom branding, SEO, digital marketing, photo and videos, social media campaigns, and more. 

Get started today by calling 816.298.7018 or using our free online cost calculator. For more tips on all things branding, web design & development, content creation, and more, subscribe to our newsletter to stay in-the-know. 

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