People naturally love a good story, not only for its entertainment value but for its power to foster emotional connection and inspire a shift in perspective that persists long after the story has ended.
Storytelling isn’t just for fun—in fact, it might surprise you to learn that it's played a central role in human development. Comprising both art and science, storytelling has allowed us to pass along information from generation to generation, communicate morals and values and form the basis of civilization as we know it by fostering cooperation and establishing cultural norms.
On top of all that, storytelling is an essential component of your digital marketing strategy and delivering a strong customer experience.
As a seasoned B2B content marketing writer, I’ve seen first-hand how leveraging the power of brand storytelling helps B2B companies connect with their audience on an emotional level that drives decision-making in a way that facts and figures simply do not.
The best stories don’t just happen—they’re carefully crafted and tend to include some of the same basic elements that make them comprehensive, relatable, and universally resonant.
Let’s take a look at how B2B storytelling can level up your marketing strategy, communicating your brand values and creating a lasting impression.
What Is B2B Brand Storytelling?
Back in 2019, Forbes dubbed brand storytelling “the future of marketing,” and for good reason. With seemingly endless marketing channels available, it would appear that getting your message across would be easy enough; however, amidst a sea of competitors all vying for that same attention, the way your marketing team tells your brand story is more important than ever.
Brand storytelling is the key to effective B2B marketing as it fosters a deeper connection with your audience, one that goes far beyond what your product or service can offer; it’s about weaving in emotional elements that your B2B customer base can relate to, and setting you apart from the competition in the eyes of the consumer.
Why Is B2B Brand Storytelling So Powerful?
While we may like to think that we’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to our consumer behavior, more often than not our emotions are running the show.
According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School, “95% of our purchase decision-making takes place subconsciously.” And yet, B2B companies still largely attempt to appeal to the rational brain of decision-makers.
Focusing on facts and figures has been shown to overwhelm the buyer at a time when really we should be trying to tap into the emotional subconscious, the real driver of decision-making.
Brand storytelling helps you to forge that emotional connection with your audience and effectively communicate your values
Steps To Develop A Good Story
Most of our favorite stories are organized around some basic plot elements that make them easy to follow, lead to a natural increase in interest and excitement, and allow your target audience to become invested in the story and its outcome.
B2B companies use this same framework to develop a compelling story around their brand while making sure to demonstrate empathy by addressing their customer’s pain points.
- Conflict: Introduced early on in the story, the conflict sets up the tension, a challenge that the protagonist must overcome. In the case of brand storytelling, this is likely when you’d consider your audience’s pain points and challenges in achieving their objectives.
- Climax: The climax is a crucial element of any captivating tale, and presents itself as the peak of the tension, when things have come to a head, the stakes are high and a decision must be made.
- Resolution: Every good story has an ending that satisfies, tying up any loose ends and leaving the audience with some key takeaways that will stay with them long after the specifics of the story have faded.
Incorporating B2B Storytelling Into Your Content Marketing
Every brand has a story—the key is learning how to tell it in a way that impacts your audience. The most successful B2B marketing campaigns do this at a high level, spinning their customer testimonials and success stories into a good story that can be used across social media channels. Conversely, some brands have also learned that they can build success through owning their flaws.
To compete with the top B2B companies, you’ll need to dig deep for your brand story to start to take shape. While you’re at it, here are some things to keep in mind for crafting an effective brand narrative:
Keep it Relatable and Believable
The fabric of our society hinges on our shared experience, and relatable sentiments—the love for a family member, the feeling of pride in self-accomplishment, the deep pain of a loss—can be a powerful tool for unlocking connection with real people.
Making your story relatable and realistic communicates to your customer that you are more similar than you are different. When potential customers see themselves in your story, it’s a lot easier for them to envision themselves using your product or service, too.
Connect on an Emotional Level
Maya Angelou said that “people won’t remember what you did, they’ll remember how you made them feel,” and the same concept rings true in marketing. Facts and figures may be impressive in the moment, but an emotional connection persists long after those numbers have faded from memory.
Since decision-making is driven by emotion rather than logic, it only makes sense that establishing an emotional connection with your audience would be beneficial to your brand.
Ensure there’s a Clear Takeaway
When you tell a great story, you’re not expecting your audience to remember every detail. But it’s important to ensure there’s a clear takeaway at the end of the narrative you’ve crafted that will resonate with your target audience, make them think, and perhaps even inspire a shift in their perspective.
Brand Storytelling Examples In Action
Sometimes, the easiest way to learn is to follow in the footsteps of those who’ve done it before, and done it well.
Here we’ve compiled a few case studies featuring SaaS brands that have managed to create a compelling story that resonated deeply with their target audience and ended as customer success stories.
The tech scene hasn’t always been hailed for the diversity of its workforce, however, there are some brands out there seeking to change that. By bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront of their organization, Zendesk is one such example.
For those who’ve struggled to fit in amongst the homogenous sea of faces on the tech scene, Zendesk’s positioning is a breath of fresh air. It also serves to help them connect with their target market on an emotional level, demonstrating an understanding of the imbalance that exists within their industry and a determination to rectify it.
The About Us section of the Zendesk website is decidedly anti-sales, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Instead of pushing their b2b buyers towards demos or product pages, their CTAs invite them to “learn more about diversity and inclusion” and “visit the Zendesk Foundation,” further emphasizing their dedication to serving their community.
Zendesk has some powerful B2B marketing automation tools, too, which can take basic admin work off your plate so you can spend more time being creative.
Who among us hasn’t experienced the dreaded “this could have been an email” meeting? Well, the founders of popular project management software Asana couldn’t agree more.
In fact, they essentially built their business on that very premise, seeking to rid themselves of unnecessary tasks and meetings that too often distracted them away from their real work.
The About Us section of Asana’s website is a masterclass in the power of storytelling, promptly delving into the origin story of the company, a tale of two people working in Big Tech with the goal of reducing the amount of meetings on their calendar and reclaiming some of their time.
Their brand promises to help you do the same, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone working in a collaborative environment who wouldn’t like to make their lives a little easier.
This is what we talk about when we talk about the importance of relatability in brand storytelling.
Grammarly’s mission is simple—to improve lives by improving communication. As a writer and grammar enthusiast myself, this is a concept I can definitely get behind.
Even if you’re not a writer, odds are you participate in some form of written dialogue, and we all know how quickly a missed comma or spelling error in a simple email can contribute to a total breakdown in communication.
At the heart of it, writing is about communication, and being able to get your point across in a way that’s clear and concise, and this is exactly the idea that Grammarly exploits in their branding. They position themselves as “a product that connects people,” using their brand messaging to go beyond performance stats and appeal to human connection and the deep desire to belong.
Finding Success Through Your Brand Story
While it may have been a while since your last creative writing class, by following the actionable steps outlined above and examining the case studies you’ll be well on your way to shaping your own story and revolutionizing your brand’s approach to content marketing as a whole.
We want to know—what are your favorite examples of brand storytelling? What campaigns have captivated you, moved you, and made you want to take action?
Comment below or reach out via our social media channels and let us know!
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