Building Your Brand Narrative: Find Your WHY

An antique blue typewriter.

For brands, authentic and lasting success relies on a strong brand narrative. 

Since the beginning of time, storytelling has been leveraged as a powerful tool in human communication. And it’s easy to see why. We connect with stories on a deeper, more emotional level than we do with dry, factual data and information. 

The same is true for brands. Audiences respond much more positively to a company that has a well-defined, authentic brand narrative. Although there needs to be a quality product or service to back up the story, the reality is that a quality offering often isn’t enough. 

The reason is that in order to be successful year after year, your brand needs to forge a true connection with your audience. You can do that through a brand narrative that tells the story of who you are and why you exist as a brand. 

Start With Your WHY

The trick to developing a strong brand narrative is leading with your “why.” What that means is building your story around your overall purpose as a brand. 

Start by asking the question, “why does my brand exist?”. The answer should go deeper than just “to make money.” While that is definitely a desired outcome for any company, that’s not what connects with consumers. To draw in your audience, you need to first understand the true vision behind your brand. 

A good exercise is to map out your internal journey using a problem solving technique called “The 7 Whys.” This really is as easy as it sounds — you will ask yourself “why” until you’re unable to get a deeper answer. 

At the end of the exercise, you can create a summary that ties all of your “whys” together and transform it into a vision statement. As a brand, this will help you narrow down your true calling.

To begin, you’ll start with your business goal. For instance, if you are a coffee shop your goal might be to sell cups of coffee. Then you will ask why you want to sell coffee. Whatever the answer is, you’ll then ask why you want to do that. And you will continue in this way seven times (or until you can no longer get to a deeper answer). 

A great example of a successful coffee brand’s vision statement is Starbucks: “Our mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit — one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” That purpose is much more resonant than simply selling cups of coffee. 

Connecting With Your Audience

Defining your “why” is the first step in developing your brand narrative. The second step is researching your target audience. 

In order to encourage organic connections with consumers, you need to understand who they are and what they respond to. The goal is to do business with the people who believe what you believe, so that is where your “why” comes in. If you communicate that appropriately you’ll naturally attract the right audience. 

However, finding the right angle to communicate your why can be challenging. By conducting thorough persona research on your target audience will help you identify the right strategies and channel your message. 

Your product or service is only one part of what you offer to consumers. If you add a great narrative behind a great product, customers will participate in your brand story in both an emotional and monetary way. Even more than that, they will be more likely to engage and share your story with others and become loyal to your brand.  

Weaving It All Together

At the end of the day, your brand narrative needs to tell a story that connects with consumers. You could have a spectacular product, but if people don’t resonate with your brand narrative they will likely choose a competitor that tells a better story. Our best advice for successful storytelling is to lead with your why, while always keeping your target audience in mind.