The Art of Storytelling in Brand Strategy

Monday, May 27th, 2024

The Art of Storytelling in Brand Strategy

Chris Lo, the founder of Matcha Design, was born to be a designer. “From the first time I learned to draw and held a camera in my hands, I was hooked on creative expression. The problem was that no one else saw it. Not my parents, not my first art director, not the senpai that punched me in the face.”

Want to know more? That’s the art of storytelling.

Don’t worry, we plan to tell this story in more detail in another post, but for now, let’s talk about the importance of visual storytelling in developing a brand strategy.

How Does a Strategist Think?

A true brand strategist can put themselves in the other person’s shoes. In the same way that actors can fluently “get in the head” of the characters they portray, a brand strategist must think like the person running the company.

Strategists have to be nosy. They must ask questions about who the founder is, what they stand for, and how they got here. The most you know about the person’s business, the more accurately you can help them. Once a strategist knows about the founder, they can share their thoughts. Many problems can’t be solved with a quick fix – the issues are deeper than that. If a client wants something quick and easy, they’re probably not a great fit.

Steps to Develop a Strategy

There are several steps you can take to create a brand strategy:

  1. Explore. During this phase, you should think about brand’s overall strategy and goals, identify their target clients, and conduct research on them. You also need to research the company itself – digging deep by asking questions (more on that later).
  2. Understand. Develop brand positioning and a messaging strategy, along with a logo/tagline/design. Everything should be well-researched and there for a reason – it’s not enough to say, “It looks cool.”
  3. Feedback. The first draft of the  brand strategy and other assets are presented to the client, and feedback is given. Take this time to collaborate and listen to the client’s needs – you will gain valuable insights.
  4. Solution. Make some final tweaks, putting the finishing touches on all the brand assets before presenting them to the your client.
  5. Testing. Test the brand strategy with the client and their target audience to ensure that it resonates with the right people.

How Long Does it Take?

Developing a brand strategy can take between 8 weeks and six months (or more), depending on a number of factors, including:

  • How large the business is
  • Your workload as an agency/designer 
  • How much money is invested in the project
  • How many stakeholders are involved in the approval process
  • How many brand touch points are being created for the project

How to Research and Plan

The foundational piece is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll run into as a brand strategist. To begin with, what questions should you ask?

Here are a few suggestions:

  • What are your core values?
  • What do you offer (products, services, or both)?
  • What are the main challenges you face(d)?
  • What problems are you running into?

The deeper you dig, the better off you’ll be, because you can suggest more accurate solutions to their pain points. By developing a crystal-clear brand story, you’ll have a solid foundation to build from. Make sure the story you’re telling is consistent with the brand values they want to highlight, and that the way they can solve problems for others is clear.

The brand story should also be an emotional journey.

What to “Toss” and What to Keep

Founders are (understandably) attached to their brands. Every part of their brand story is important to them, and rightfully so – but that may not be the case for their audience. It’s important to keep in mind what to keep and what to let go.

So it’s important to craft a brand story that sparks empathy between founders and their audience.

A brand story should say, “I understand where you’re coming from, because I’ve been there myself.”

Here’s what you want to highlight in a brand story:

  • Brand values
  • Challenges
  • The moment(s) of change
  • How the challenges were overcome

Stories should reinforce what the brand is already trying to say, and they should act as a bridge between the founder and their ideal customer. And stories should be communicated in every way imaginable – through written copy as well as visual design.

How to Pack a Real Punch (without Violence)

Here’s what the senpai didn’t know: violence is not the way to communicate. It’s far more effective to persuade people, compelling them to act because they can’t help but come on board with your ideas and creativity.

Here are some ways to truly pack a punch with visual storytelling:

  • Under-promise and over-deliver. Make sure the claims are accurate, not misleading. Losing trust will put you on the fast track to failure.
  • Show, don’t tell. Avoid using too much text if you’re telling the story visually. It can be distracting and undermines the purpose of visual storytelling.
  • Provide context. Make it clear. You can do this using a background or with filters/effects (don’t go overboard). Set the mood for the story you’re telling.
  • Be relevant. If the story you’re telling doesn’t resonate with the audience, what’s the point? Be sure it’s going to grab attention.
  • Show conflict. Action shots do a great job of telling a story. If you’re taking a picture of a hockey team, for example, you want to get that impossibly fast hockey shot into the goal!
  • Use a narrative structure. If you can, include a beginning, middle, and end, just as you would for a regular story. (Catch our December storybook post  for an example!)
  • Show real people. Adding real people to the visuals can make it more relatable, especially if you’re including the people who work at the company.
  • Study the greats. Look for examples of visual storytelling that you like. Ask yourself: Why do I like them? What can I do to emulate this? There’s nothing wrong with finding inspiration – just remember to make it your own!

Need Help Developing Your Brand Strategy?

Branding and communication are critical for any business, so it’s important to learn to create a compelling narrative. If you’re a business that needs help strengthening your brand, we can help. Our experts can guide you to create a powerful brand narrative that resonates with your target audience. Contact us today to build a brand that truly stands out!

About Matcha Design

Matcha Design is a full-service creative B2B agency with decades of experience executing its client’s visions. The award-winning company specializes in web design, logo design, branding, marketing campaign, print, UX/UI, video production, commercial photography, advertising, and more. Matcha Design upholds the highest personal standards for excellence and can see things from a unique perspective due to its multicultural background.  The company consistently delivers custom, high-quality, innovative solutions to its clients using technical savvy and endless creativity. For more information, visit MatchaDesign.com.

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