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Storytelling 101: Brand-Building Your Tech Company Through Narrative

January 16, 2018 - influencer content marketing, Marketing -
By: Meredith Rutland Bauer

Brand building is as much an art as a science. Getting people to recognize your company is tough, but there are a few key storytelling concepts that tech entrepreneurs forget to use when trying to build their audience early on.

People love stories. Conflict, tension (and dare I say, drama) all entice people to want to know more about your company. Capitalizing on your company’s own story can be a powerful tool toward that end.

That doesn’t mean you need to invent conflict. Trust me, if you’re a living, breathing human, you have lots of material you can use.

The Basics of Storytelling

Every great story has four key elements: characters, a plot, a conflict, and a resolution.

Characters

You’ll want to first identify your key “characters,” which will usually be yourselves or your clients. For example, I recently filed a Q&A with a young entrepreneur in the Bay Area. While we focused the interview on her journey to create her own business and move up in the tech field, what made her especially fascinating were the challenges she faced growing up in a rough environment.

Plot (with a conflict)

Once you find your character, identify the character’s plot and the conflict within that plot. What journey have your character or characters been on? What did it take to get your startup off the ground? What mission are you trying to achieve? Are you working to correct some systemic problem? Focus on the people hurt by that problem. Plot is more than just conflict, though. It involves the elements of building up to that conflict and the emotions involved.

Resolution

Resolution is essentially the end of the conflict, which may or may not be in the future. Sometimes, it’s a hopeful answer to a problem, which (HINT, HINT) may involve the services your company provides.

Why Should You Use Storytelling?

Storytelling is branding. The most powerful advertising never mentions the product’s name, but is put out by a specific company to create an image.

By focusing on stories, companies tap into the human psyche and can catch the attention of customers, reporters, investors and others. By focusing less on your product and more on the human impact of your overall mission, you can actually get more eyes on your product.

Think about Tom’s Shoes as an example. They sell shoes, which is an overtapped market, but by focusing on a buy-one-give-one model, they’ve created an image of a company that helps children across the world. They’ve focused on telling the stories of those children, and when people buy the shoes, they are buying the story.

Don’t Undercut the Virality Potential

Yes, it’s rare that your product will go viral. But stagnant press releases will never, ever go viral.

A video or a story that pulls on viewers’ heartstrings or that offers a compelling look into a world they were unaware of could actually go viral—and that’s the best kind of marketing you could hope for as a small tech company.

The Takeaway

Storytelling Is Powerful

Don’t underestimate the power of a good story. Just as a great commercial that never shows a company’s product can make you cry (and you remember it weeks and years later), your company’s intrinsic values can spur storytelling that brings in more customers.

Great storytelling might just change the way you do business.


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Meredith Rutland Bauer is a freelance technology and environmental reporter in the San Francisco East Bay. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Audubon, Fox News Tech, The Atlantic verticals and Vice Motherboard, among other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @merebauer