Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 21, 2016 How To

Master the art of storytelling to build your company’s brand

Everyone loves a good story. The best stories include elements that people will connect with and remember, then share with their tribe of family and friends. Sharing our clients' stories is how we help them strengthen their bond with target audiences, build brands and attract customers.

Think about it for a minute and you'll realize you already know the story behind many of your favorite brands. Ask anyone who loves the Maine brand L.L.Bean about how the company started, and there's a very good chance they'll tell you about Leon Leonwood Bean, who invented the iconic Bean boot 100 years ago. L.L.Bean has incorporated this story into the heart of their brand. As a result, their brand resonates with people, and their products are synonymous with quality and longevity. Steve Jobs and Apple command a similar role in the hearts of consumers.

In order to accomplish that kind of devotion, your story should encompass how your business got started, what makes it unique, and why others should admire and respect it. It should be more than facts and figures.

It should entertain. It should motivate. It should inspire.

Including interesting anecdotes that epitomize the heart and soul of your company is an effective tool. It's important to be sure you are always telling the truth. Nothing will kill your credibility faster than creating customer expectations that you cannot meet.

I think, at one time or another, we've all probably tried a hotel, restaurant or product that was touted as something spectacular only to find out that the reality did not match up with how it had been “spun” to us. How did you feel when your experience didn't live up to expectations? Lied to? Cheated? Angry? Enough said. As you craft your own story, remember that honesty is always the best policy.

A brand manifesto is the story of your business, including your history, accomplishments, values, and vision for the future. I like this name because it is really and truly a manifesto — a written declaration of what a company or individual stands for and represents.

The brand manifesto is then broken down into an easy-to-follow graphic called a message map. In essence, the message map includes a one-line statement at its center that includes the most important things target audiences need to know about you. That key message is surrounded by a series of bubbles that break the brand manifesto into segments and expound upon individual points through a series of secondary key messages. It's important to have a 30-second sound bite, a carefully-crafted pitch intended to capture the interest of top prospects or other key members of your target audience when you've got a very limited amount of time to make your pitch.

With this arsenal of branding tools in hand, you will then be ready to go out and share your story with the world. Make sure every employee is familiar with these pieces, especially the message map. The message map is intended to work as a song sheet, ensuring that all those representing your company are consistently “singing” from the same song sheet when speaking to any of your target markets. It is especially handy in keeping media interviews on track and ensuring spokespeople cover all key messages, no matter what a reporter's topic might be.

A great story is the foundation of every strong brand, whether it is a company brand or the brand of an individual. Telling your story should be a part of the daily routine of everyone in your organization. If your story is honest and engaging, this will come naturally. Every one of your employees, from the CEO to the part-time receptionist, will be helping to strengthen your brand, though they might not necessarily be aware they're doing it.

Nancy Marshall, is founder and CEO of Augusta-based Nancy Marshall Communications, a public relations and marketing agency celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. She can be reached at

Sign up for Enews


Order a PDF