How to Create a ‘Signature Story’

How to Create a Signature Story

As B2B content marketers, a signature story can make or break our current and potential target audience connections. It’s our chance to reel in readers in the limited time that we have.

However, creating a signature story requires intention, research, and time to create a piece that will significantly impact everyone who reads it. So, what exactly do you need to accomplish this?

It is understanding the elements of signature stories and how to create them.

What Is a Signature Story?

Signature stories have always been an essential part of branding for a brand, organization, professional, etc. In fact, it was the brand strategist and author of “Creating Signature Stories: Strategic Messaging that Energizes, Persuades and Inspires,” David Aaker, that defines this concept well.

A signature story is an intriguing, authentic narrative that delivers or supports a strategic message clarifying or enhancing the brand vision, customer relationship, organizational values, and/or business strategy. This story doesn’t necessarily have to have several data points and facts. Those elements will come in handy for an investor pitch or potential business partner, but it’s all about evoking emotions in this story.

It is a strategic tool that businesses can leverage at any point of their business journey to remind, guide, and inspire people internally and externally.

Why Do You Need a Signature Story?

Transparency is an essential and critical element for brands to have, especially in this new economy. People want to know everything they can about a brand, product or service before even beginning the buying process. A study done by Stackla revealed that 86% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.

Your company is a living organism, and the heart/soul of your company will always come from your signature story. It asks the questions of why, who, what, where, and how for your company. The signature story sets the tone for your brand while guiding the company’s mission.

On an external level, signature stories can add visibility and energy to your brand. It’s no secret that on all digital platforms, a compelling story will grab the attention of almost anyone (even if they aren’t your intended audience), especially on social media platforms. This can help you break through the clutter and noise of the internet and stand out from the crowd.

More reasons as to why you need a signature story:

  • Change the conversation in crisis.
  • Promote the strategic message of your company.
  • Help you gain trust and credibility in the industry.

Your signature story does more than just tell a good story. It can set you apart from the rest and on the path to success.

3 Elements Of A Signature Story

In cases like that, you want to ensure that you stick to the four elements of a signature story: being authentic, involved, and strategic in the stories you tell.

Authenticity is necessary to the success of a story. No one is interested in ready a story that is not true, contrived, or just to blatantly sell their service or products. An excellent signature story reveals the unfiltered, essential behind-the-scenes content that the audience and customers want.

Show, don’t tell your story. When you read any story, you want to be pulled into the story no matter the length. To feel as though you are going through every event and emotion of the story with the writer. It has to be a story that can, but not always, lead you to take some type of action.

A signature story doesn’t hold if it’s not linked to the strategic message you want to convey. It can be an impeccable story, but if it doesn’t enable growth for the brand, it will just be another story with no purpose for your brand. You want your story to elevate your brand, audience relationships, strategies, etc.

With these three elements, you will have a signature story that can stand the test of time.

Steps to Create Your Signature Story

While the elements of a signature story can seem straightforward, actually creating the story isn’t an easy feat. It takes time to develop and communicate them in a strategic yet authentic and compelling way, but more often than not,  we don’t always have a lot of time, resources, or that clear of a story to work with.

It can be challenging for many people to put the brand’s story into content that is easily digestible and in line with the overall message they want people to know. So when you sit down and start writing your signature story, follow these steps to ensure it’s great.

1. Start by asking yourself the questions that surround your “why”

This is a crucial part of writing your story—it’s where all the information comes from. This is where you will get all the juicy and maybe not so juicy, but essential parts will make your story compelling and authentic.

Ask yourself:

  • What sparked the inspiration for this brand/company/etc.? Why are you passionate about the field or career that you’ve chosen?
  • What makes you different from those that came before you and those coming after you?
  • What about your brand, product, or service will attract will answer the needs of the audience you are trying to attract?
  • What is your “why?”

These are only a few of the many questions that you can ask, but it’s a place to start to get to the story’s point.

2. Find the Story’s Heroes

When looking for your story’s heroes, there are two different ways in which you can approach this: either with the customer as a hero or the employee as the hero.

With a customer as the hero, this can tie in closely with your company’s value proposition. It’s centered around the customers’ needs and uplifting their experience and favorite moments with your brand. For example, Dove has been around for decades and has focused on customers’ experiences. In every campaign, the experiences and moments that their customers experience are always at the epicenter.

Having employees as heroes shows the importance of the people who are helping to drive your company. They are the ones who are your first line of defense, so having them as heroes can make your signature story more memorable. An example of this would be an online shoe retailer, Zappos.com. Their signature story is centered on their core values and has a story about how their employees have achieved those values.

3. Test, Learn and Nurture Your Story

As much as we all want to write the perfect story in one go, that doesn’t always happen. The first time you write, it doesn’t have to be the perfect story, but it should be a start point where you can edit, revise, or just head back to the drawing board. Try out stories that aren’t finished and see if they’re effective before you invest more time to refine them.

“Signature stories do not just appear. They are born through a process,” says Aaker. Look at other signature stories to better understand what attracts people and what may be off-putting to others. You need to nurture your story throughout the process to get to the high-quality finished product you want.

4. Stay Away From Elements That Can Hurt Your Story

Remember, your signature story is supposed to be intriguing, authentic and involving. And while including statistics on the brand growth, performance and more can be interesting, having that be the basis of your signature story, have it fall flat to your audience.

Statistics can help to support the main point of your story and show the impact that it has had on your brand. It’s about having a good balance to help solidify the message. Aaker stresses that facts alone “do not gain attention, stimulate social activity, persuade or inspire.”

A signature story is simple, and while dramatics can be an addition to other types of stories, it has no place in your signature story. Unless it is a genuine part of your story, exaggeration defeats the purpose of being authentic and transparent with your customers.

5. Make Sure Your Signature Story is Strong

Once you’ve gotten your story developed, it is vital to go back and ensure that it has the necessary elements. So before you make your signature story live on your site, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it a story? Does it have a narrative with a beginning, middle and end?
  • Is it intriguing? Does it capture attention?
  • Is it authentic? Do all the elements feel real?
  • Is it involved? Does it draw people in or make them care?

Your signature story is the reason you are doing what you are doing. Remember to take your time, test different angles, and nurture it to have a signature story that creates the impact you want.

Arnelle Pierre-Louis
Arnelle Pierre-Louis is the content marketing writer at Rep Cap. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of New Haven with certifications in content strategy and SEO. Along with her joy of producing engaging content, she loves to read, write fiction, work on her fitness and geek out to anything Disney and Marvel.

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