Every company has a distinct story—and your customers want to hear it. In fact, research has shown that following exposure to a brand’s story, consumers viewed that company in a significantly more positive light (and were even willing to pay more for its product).
“We’re already telling our company story,” you might say. “Look, it’s on our website under ‘Who We Are!’ or ‘About Us’ and it tells when we were founded, what products we carry, how far we’ve come, and why we serve our customers better than everybody else!”
If you glean nothing else from reading this post, let it be this: your brand story is so much more than the impersonal cookie-cutter timeline of a corporate history that lurks on many well-intended ‘About Us’ pages. Now there’s nothing wrong with that version, per se—in fact, a lot of companies have exactly that.
Let me say that again: a lot of companies have exactly that. So if your goal is to blend in and have a snooze-worthy story, then by all means, carry on. Otherwise, let’s dive in to how you can tell a memorable story that will make you stand out.
While your company timeline may not be the whole story, it isn’t a bad place to start.
A corporate history provides a rough sketch of important events, but your story should add color and sound to the experience—think of bringing an old silent film into the 21st century. When it comes time to write, take those dates and consider what was happening in your region, the industry, and in history itself.
Don’t just say that your company “overcame difficult circumstances to flourish in a previously unexplored niche.” (Yawn.) Flex those empathic storytelling muscles! Regale us with a tale through the eyes of your founders. For a stunning example of how that could look, let’s step back in time to 19th century New York, where political unrest and a bitter battle for human rights brought an angry, violent mob to this mega-brand’s very doorstep.
Okay, maybe you’re lacking an explosive, literally-only-happened-once-in-history occurrence. Not to worry: powerful brand narratives don’t exclusively require Gatling guns and political unrest! People in everyday circumstances have captivating stories to tell, too. As a produce marketer, you may be familiar with Tessemae’s, and as they put it: “when a man steals another man’s salad dressing, that’s all the reason in the world to start a business.”
Define what is important to your brand (but don’t be a poser).
To get to the heart of who your company is, consider what you value most. (Hint: take a hard look at what your organization prioritizes—and what it sacrifices for those priorities.) Some questions to consider:
- What problems do you solve? Put another way: how do you make the world a better place?
- What causes do you currently support? For what issues have you consistently advocated?
- How does your business support and protect your employees, your consumers, and your community? How do operations impact the environment?
Most importantly, can you prove the answer to the above questions? Make sure the company puts its money where marketing’s mouth is—people aren’t easily fooled, and trust is difficult to regain once lost. So if you craft a brand narrative that extols your commitment to environmental sustainability, definitely also make sure that your CEO isn’t sending tweets denouncing climate change as #fakenews.
Be relatable—because you are.
Yes, your business is an organization, but you still have to connect with people on a human level to succeed.
Ever heard the saying that “people leave people, not companies?” Well here’s the thing: people also make purchasing decisions based on people, including who they think uses a brand’s products, actual interactions with brand representatives, or who they believe leads the company.
At the end of the day, people buy from people they can relate to. Don’t be so preoccupied with positioning your brand as infallible that you forget your company is comprised of people with their own experiences, fears and faults, just like your customers. Bring those stories to the forefront whenever it make sense—the reactions you get may just surprise you.
Strum those heartstrings, people!
Think about the most memorable stories you’ve ever heard. They most likely have this one thing in common: every good story makes the reader feel something. Ideally, you want to leverage emotional reactions to align yourself with the reader’s “ideal self.” Your story is the answer to questions like, “What kind of person buys this product,” and perhaps more important, “What kind of person will I be after purchasing this product?”
It isn’t necessary to provide a written answer to those questions, but think: can your customers see themselves—or who they’d like to be—in your story? While you don’t need to inject your narrative with the drama of a Friday morning telenovela to have emotional appeal (but please send me the link if you do!), your story should be sufficiently vivid for viewers to identify with you on some level. Inspiration and self-concept are powerful motivators—don’t miss out on the chance to join those conversations whenever possible.
Weaving a captivating company story isn’t easy—it takes authenticity, passion, and a certain amount of fearlessness. But know that as a professional in the fresh produce industry, you have 1.) an abundance of stories at your fingertips; and 2.) an occupation that affects every person walking this earth. We believe that it’s time for all of us to start leveraging that powerful combination!