What is a brand story? Does my brand need one?

Laura, Roman, Yi and Alexis ask

What is a brand story and does my brand really need one?

Thanks guys for asking an important question.

Let me start by saying that every brand has a story and communicates it either by accident or on purpose. The real question is, do you know what it is – or what it should be – and does your brand story connect, inspire and motivate the right people?

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusion over what a brand story is and how to discover it. And often it is way too complicated. The rule of thumb is if you cannot write it down on a napkin or casually explain it – its too complicated. And if it’s too complicated it will not become reality, it will just be words on paper.

Hopefully I can clear that up in this next sentence:

Your brand story is simply why your brand matters.

That’s it. It’s the story of the value your brand offers to meet your customer’s needs and aspirations. Ultimately, it is the story of your brand’s significance and why people should love it.

But a brand story is not just words and images on Instagram, it is also, and most importantly, your products, services and behaviour. You can write a compelling brand story, but if your products, services and actions do not tell the same story, your brand is in trouble.

example of a simple brand story

One of my clients, a specialty coffee roaster and cafe brand, exists to ‘make people happy by keeping coffee special.’ Their brand story is summed up in just three words: keep it special. This is why they matter to their customers—because their brand story connects perfectly with their tribe’s passion for specialty coffee. And they tell that story not only through their marketing, but most importantly through exceptional products and customer service.

What about a brand you’re more familiar with? Nike, for example. Nike believes that most people want to be strong and healthy, and that every person has an inner athlete just waiting to break free. Nike’s brand story (and why they matter) is that they help unleash your inner athlete and inspire you to ‘Just do it.’ And their ads and products seamlessly tell that story and people are inspired and motivated. That’s the power of knowing the right story.


So what is your brand’s story? Does it connect, inspire and motivate the right people? Do you tell it authentically? And do your products, services and brand behaviours tell the same story? These are important questions that we can’t ignore if we want to build a brand that people will love now and for a long time to come.

The universe is made of stories, not atoms.

Story is the stuff of life. American poet Muriel Rukeyser suggested this when she wrote, “the universe is made of stories, not atoms.” It is the invisible template that shapes our dreams, aspirations, directions and decisions in life. Individuals, couples, families, cultures, countries, religions are all shaped by story. It’s how we understand our place in the world.

As brand builders, business leaders, managers and marketers we must become story tellers and tell the right story to the right people. If we want to gather a loyal and passionate community around our brand we must tell and live a powerful story that frames people’s vision for why and how they want to live.



  • If you like this article you’ll love my new book This Way Please.
  • You can download a few free chapters here.


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