Ken is nearly six years younger than I am. When he was nine years old, he gave me a small journal for Hanukkah. It was about five by four inches and had a gold and white cover. I was so charmed that he would spend some of his allowance to buy me a gift – we didn’t usually exchange among siblings at that point.
A few months later, I rediscovered the diary and started to write on its gold lined pages. A few pages at a time, I recorded events, feelings and anything that came to mind.
I was at a summer program on Rutgers campus when I finished the diary. I went to the college book store, bought a small notebook with the Rutgers logo on the cover, and continued penning my thoughts there.
Fast forward thirty plus years and a few dozen journals.
As I opened a brand new Peter Pauper Press journal yesterday, I read the following on the back of the title page:
In 1928, at the age of twenty-two, Peter Beilenson began printing books on a small press in the basement of his parents’ home in Larchmont, New York. Peter—and later, his wife, Edna—sought to create fine books that sold at “prices even a pauper could afford.”
Today, still family owned and operated, Peter Pauper Press continues to honor our founders’ legacy—and our customers’ expectations—of beauty, quality, and value.
A 71-word story, placed where I, a Peter Pauper Press brand user, would see it.
In those 71 words, I learned:
- Where the brand name came from;
- That the company is family owned;
- That it has an 85-year-old heritage;
- That the brand aims to stand for beauty, quality and value.
What affects did this brief story have on me?
I can almost visualize Peter in 1920s garb in the basement of his parents’ home in Larchmont, churning out one journal at a time.
I like knowing that I am supporting a long-standing family business – that’s a warm feeling.
The company’s brand values confirm why I have purchased from them. My Peter Pauper Press journals are beautiful, include quality paper, and are a good value overall. I buy them because I enjoy these facets but also because I believe they will last.
Before seeing that story, I just knew that I liked their journals. Now I have a much stronger connection to the brand.
And that kind of connection is why you should share your brand’s story too.
Humans love stories. Stories organize and connect ideas and information in a way that is easy to remember. Stories are the way that much information was passed – and continues to be passed– from generation to generation.
When I was working at Veryfine in 1993, the Rowse family that owned the company knew the power of brand storytelling and had an entire book written to record the company’s history. They distributed it to all of the employees, many of whom had been with the company for years and felt a part of its lore themselves. It stoked their pride and helped new employees understand how the brand had evolved.
- Help your audience remember you;
- Differentiate you from your competitors;
- Build familiarity (so that prospects get to know, like and trust your brand);
- Convey brand attributes in a subtle but effective way.
Because they are entertaining, stories sell without selling. And your audience is more receptive to hearing a good story than a sales pitch.
Brands in adolescence can use stories to help them graduate from that phase by:
- Illustrating the problem that the brand solves;
- Making an emotional connection;
- Influencing the brand’s image in the direction it is evolving.
And as we have seen, the story doesn’t have to be long.
To harness the power of brand storytelling:
- Create long and short versions of your unique brand story.
- Put the long version on your website on your About Us or Company page. Reward customers and prospects who have gone there to learn about your brand with a good tale.
- Use the short version on your product or your product’s packaging. This will help you connect with prospects who discover your brand at its points of distribution and keep your story in front of your customers.
And now you know the story of how I started writing, a precursor to this newsletter. I will always be grateful to Ken for giving me my first journal.
Do you have someone in your life that has helped you discover one of your passions? Please share your story in the comments.
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