The Importance of Brand Storytelling for Small Businesses: a Deep Dive

Photo of author

By Jacob Maslow

To understand the significance of brand storytelling and how it can provide a competitive edge to smaller businesses, we’ve gathered insights from seven industry experts, including Founders, Creative Directors, and COOs. From leveraging free storytelling for a competitive edge to influencing lay changes in Singapore. Discover these examples of how brand storytelling can help your small business.

  • Leveraging Free Storytelling for a Competitive Edge
  • Gandys’ Brand Storytelling Success
  • Following Airbnb’s Path to Iconic Status
  • Humanizing Brands and Making Them Memorable
  • Eliciting Emotion with an Eco-friendly Package
  • Drawing in Customers and Maintaining Loyalty
  • Influencing Law Changes in Singapore

1. Leveraging Free Storytelling for Competitive Edge

Small businesses can significantly benefit from compelling brand storytelling to distinguish themselves from competitors.

1) It’s free. A well-crafted message communicates clearly and effectively to your target audience, potentially reaching a wide audience without financial investment. 2) Competing with larger companies in the same industry can be challenging, and racing to the bottom with pricing isn’t a desirable strategy. Therefore, storytelling can be used to demonstrate how and why your business is different from others in your industry.

Consider this example from a medium-sized home remodeling company based in Durham, NC.

Rain Bennett, Filmmaker, Author, Storytelling Coach, Six Second Stories

2. Gandys’ Brand Storytelling Success

When a consumer is faced with relatively comparable products or services, it is the brand story that makes the difference. Stories stir emotions, and emotions drive decisions. We, as humans, want to feel connected to something, and more often than not, businesses feel like faceless entities.

However, a business with a story can resonate with us and create a connection, often based on experience or shared values. This connection with the business can then, in turn, build trust, loyalty, and a long-term commitment, and therefore, more sales and advocacy.

One of my favorite brand storytelling examples is the outdoor clothing brand Gandys. The company was founded by brothers Rob and Paul Forkan, who survived but were orphaned by, the Indian Ocean Tsunami. They created Gandys to build a children’s home in their parents’ honor, but their poignant mission drove their business to become a global success.

Ryan Stone, Founder and Creative Director, Lambda Films

3. Following Airbnb’s Path to Iconic Status

Unique storytelling is one of the few ways a brand can stand out in an overcrowded marketplace, especially for a small business entering a domain that already has bigger, more established players.

With well-crafted brand storytelling, a business can explain the “why” around its origin in a compelling way, convey its competitive differentiators in a loud and clear voice, establish an authentic brand personality that leaves an impression on the audience, and create a cohesive brand image across different digital channels to encourage easy brand recognition.

A lot of brands that start small but gradually go on to become iconic figures are masters at storytelling. Let’s take Airbnb, for example, which redefined staycations by tailoring its brand story around the idea that you can feel at home anywhere worldwide.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of small businesses and should be capitalized on creatively and authentically.

Saksham Gogia, Co-Founder and Managing Director, WrittenlyHub

4. Humanizing Brands and Making Them Memorable

Brand storytelling is crucial, especially for smaller businesses. It creates an emotional connection with the audience, making the brand more relatable and memorable. A compelling story can differentiate a small business from competitors, fostering customer trust and loyalty.

For one of our clients, a local artisan bakery, brand storytelling has been a transformative experience. They realized that beyond marketing products, sharing the narratives behind their bakers, the origins of their unique recipes, and the community events they sponsor was key. This approach humanized their brand, making it more relatable. Their customers appreciated the personal touch, feeling they were supporting more than just a bakery—they were becoming part of a local tradition and supporting passionate artisans.

This emotional connection has translated into unwavering customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth, giving the bakery a significant edge in a crowded market.

Sarah Politi, Founder and Managing Director, Jade & Sterling

5. Eliciting Emotion with an Eco-friendly Package

Brand storytelling can differentiate between a loyal customer and one who only uses your services once. The companies people are loyal to are the ones that touch us emotionally. You need to insert yourselves into their lives somehow. Make them feel part of the story. Make them care. Focus on relating to them.

We once showcased a firm whose environmentally friendly packaging business was expanding and positively impacting society. They shared stories of wanting to see fewer birds with plastic packaging on their beaks and webbed feet and how this personal aim was a reason they started the business. This got a strong reaction from our audience.

Marco Genaro Palma, Co-Founder, TechNews180

6. Drawing in Customers and Maintaining Loyalty

Brand storytelling is very important in giving a smaller business an edge because it’s a way to draw in potential customers and turn them into loyal customers by showcasing interests and values that align with theirs.

For example, a friend who recently took over his retiring boss’s local insurance agency has increased his customer base by sharing his family stories on social media and monthly appearances on a local network affiliate morning show.

His latest story involved sharing photos and highlights of how his agency could quickly help his mother and father-in-law when a storm brought down a huge tree that fell onto a corner of their home and into a busy street.

Seeing how well he cared for his family and how they put their trust in him to do that resulted in gaining new customers in a very family-oriented city.

Michelle Robbins, Licensed Insurance Agent,

7. Influencing Law Changes in Singapore

I recently heard an interview with Nilan Peris, the Chief Product Officer at Wise, the UK-based foreign exchange company. He told a great story about how they entered the market in Singapore, fighting a dated, onerous “know your customer” framework for business verification.

Their story, brand, and user evangelism were so strong that their customers in Singapore changed the law to accommodate digital KYC better. It was a great story about Wise, and the brand’s legendary approach manifested this creative result.

Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench

Implementing Expert Tips: A Practical Blueprint for Small Businesses

The insights gleaned from industry mavens provide a treasure trove of practical wisdom. It’s one thing to grasp the significance of brand storytelling, but the real magic happens when these narratives are skillfully woven into the fabric of your business model. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to transition from understanding to implementation:

  • Identify Your Unique Narrative:
    • Unearth the unique aspects of your business that set you apart from the rest.
    • Dive into the genesis of your venture, the challenges overcome, and the victories celebrated along the way.
  • Engage Your Audience:
    • Craft your narrative in a way that resonates with your target audience.
    • Be authentic and relatable in your storytelling, allowing your brand personality shine.
  • Utilize Various Platforms:
    • Harness the power of different platforms like social media, blogs, and local community events to share your story.
    • Collaborate with local influencers or businesses to amplify your narrative.
  • Measure, Learn, and Adapt:
    • Gauge the impact of your storytelling through customer engagement metrics.
    • Seek feedback, learn from the responses, and tweak your storytelling approach accordingly.
  • Train Your Team:
    • Involve your team in your brand story and ensure they can eloquently communicate it to customers.
    • Foster a company culture that embodies the essence of your narrative.
  • Customer-Centric Narratives:
    • Spin tales that place your customers at the heart, showcasing how your business solves their problems or enhances their lives.
  • Stay Consistent Yet Evolving:
    • Maintain consistency in your storytelling while allowing your narrative to evolve with your business growth and market trends.

Now, let’s delve a little deeper and explore some nuggets of wisdom that didn’t make it into the expert roundup but are quintessential for mastering the art of brand storytelling.

Additional Nuggets for Brand Storytelling Mastery

  • The Power of Visual Storytelling:
    • A picture is worth a thousand words. Utilize compelling visuals to bolster your narrative. Videos, infographics, and high-quality images can significantly enhance the impact of your storytelling.
  • Customer Testimonials:
    • Nothing beats the persuasive power of satisfied customers narrating their favorable experiences with your brand. Collect and prominently display customer testimonials.
  • Community Involvement:
    • Engage with local communities and involve your business in causes that resonate with your brand values. Share these experiences as part of your brand story.
  • Maintain a Story Bank:
    • Keep a repository of interesting anecdotes, customer stories, and business milestones. This story bank can be a valuable resource for your marketing campaigns.
  • Embrace Storytelling in Product Design:
    • Let your products tell a story. From the design phase to the packaging, embed elements that narrate your brand’s tale.
  • Invest in Storytelling Skills:
    • Consider investing in storytelling workshops for you and your team. Professional guidance can hone your storytelling skills, ensuring your brand narrative is engaging and effective.

As you embark on this storytelling odyssey, remember a well-told story has the power to transform the perception of your brand, cultivating a loyal customer base eager to be part of your business saga.


Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos