Crafting a Memorable Brand Story


To me, marketing is about values. This is a very complicated world; it’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get the chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear on what we want them to know about us.” — Steve Jobs

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about storytelling and the place that it has in marketing. More than a decade ago, Steve Jobs said that our only defense against a noisy world was to be clear about what we wanted people to know and remember about us. That’s what marketing is to me – formulating the story we want people to know about and then making it part of everything we do.

It’s about bleeding it.

How do you craft a memorable brand story?

  1. Determine what you stand for and where you fit in. Who are you right now and who do you want to be? This is your culture. It’s your core.
  2. Assess the traits that you have that best allow you to represent that core. This is where creating your character comes in – it’s the marketing persona inside of you that shows the best and most marketable version of yourself to your audience. Do not make up characteristics, but do highlight your best ones while removing the noise (the ones that don’t matter)
  3. Piece together your brand story by finding the common thread between 1 and 2 and building from there. Use the characteristics and company stories that help you best convey what it is you’re trying to tell people.
  4. Finalize your story until it looks, feels, smells, tastes and sounds like your core.
  5. Work your story into everything you do, keeping 100 percent consistent.
  6. Tell your story from every touch point.

Crafting a brand story allows you to communicate to your consumer exactly who you want to be so that they know how they are supposed to remember you. That’s how you break through the noise. By giving them something to remember.

When I talk about Outspoken Media, I don’t tell people that we’re an SEO consulting company or that we do online reputation management. I tell them that Outspoken Media was the result of Rhea Drysdale and myself becoming frustrated with the quality of services being offered in the industry and what we do decided to do about it. How we left high-paying jobs in the heart of the recession to create something better than what we believe was out there.

When someone asks me how I got into the Internet marketing world despite my degree being in journalism, I could tell them it was lucky or that I simply fell into it or that I took one job that changed my whole career path. Or I could bring it back to how growing up without a voice taught me how important it is to help brands’ find theirs.

It’s only spin if it’s not true. Otherwise it’s a story that ties your experiences to your culture back to your consumer.

If you choose NOT to build a story around your brand, you leave it open for others to craft your own brand story. And believe me, they will. And you might not like their rendition of what your brand means.

[Hat tip to Presentation Zen for pointing me toward the video linked above with their post on identifying your core values.]

Your Comments

  • Kevin

    Great post Lisa. Telling your story is huge and it is often overlooked. What is going to make you stick in the customer’s mind? How are you going to help them sort through all of that noise out there?
    “Crafting a brand story allows you to communicate to your consumer exactly who you want to be so that they know how they are supposed to remember you. That’s how you break through the noise. By giving them something to remember.”

    • Lisa Barone

      I agree that storytelling in marketing is often overlooked and I think it’s because businesses aren’t sure what that means. Hopefully the simple framework I presented will help them find a place to start.

  • Jerry McCarthy

    Hi Lisa,
    True indeed. I love that you used the word ‘spin’ too. We see companies all the time ‘spin and fluff’ their product or service only to neglect their brand or purpose. To see Steve Jobs in this back in the day clip puts it all into perspective. He was already a mega success then. Yet he was still trying to redefine the voice of Apple. This video was before the I Phone or I Tunes. Is it any wonder he carved Apple into the American culture? Steve Jobs didn’t build the number one brand in the world by accident. He made it so. Wow. The power that lies in this video is beyond measurement. All we need to do is listen closely. Thanks Lisa :- )

    • Lisa Barone

      I’ve watched a lot of Steve Jobs’ speeches but this one just really nails it, IMO. He gets what so few brands get and he got it way before anyone else was even talking about it. I think brands get so caught up in the features and the benefits that they lose their brand promise. They lose their story. And when they do that, customers lose sight of them.

  • Chase Sherman

    Great post, Lisa. Interesting to hear about your past work history… had no idea you left a high-paying corporate job.

    Brand story telling is definitely a useful tool in marketing. There’s a guy named Michael Margolis whose entire focus is on this topic. You should check out his work.


  • Christopher Rice

    Great point, Lisa — thanks for sharing the video.

    I think creating the story of your brand is also what builds that know, like, and trust Brian, Sonia, and Bruce talk about over at copyblogger.

  • Ted Kolovos

    I really like what u said about consistency. It takes a lot of work to refine your core values so why put that to waste by slacking off with consistency:)

  • Anna

    at the risk of stating the obvious… your story needs to be genuine not manufactured.

  • Patrick Brondes

    Wow, he really nails it on the head doesn’t he, and no coincidence he was Disney’s biggest shareholder in addition to his Apple stock. It really chimes with us too (we’re trying to take the high road in a very congested marketplace) and slowly but surely it’s making a difference.