- Teri Sutherland
Who do your clients think you are? (The importance of storytelling in branding)
As most people in small business know, part of your brand is your story — how and why you established your business, and why you continue your business journey.
Many consumers are more eager than ever to buy local and support indie businesses, especially after the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. So, if you're a small business, your story can help them decide to come to you rather than your competitors. That's why it's important that you have a strong sense of your story and how you tell it — on your website, and all other branded products.
How can you tell your story?
When you've been in business for a while, it's easy to assume that all your customers know about your products and services and why you offer them. The easiest way to take a step back and make sure you are articulating your story is to say it out loud and write it down in a short sentence. Think of it as your 'elevator pitch' or how you describe your business offering to a friend of a friend. If you work for a family business, try mapping out a timeline of how and when the business was established. There are bound to be some milestones that can help underline your business identity. People love family history and this sort of content can really engage your customers and help differentiate your company from your competitors.
Example: Lydia's Garden – florist
Working on a brochure for Samantha Dusting's floral business, Lydia's Garden, I found out that the business is actually named for Sam's grandmother. The floral designs are inspired by Sam's childhood memory of visiting her grandmother, Lydia, who'd hand Sam a big basket to fill to the brim with flowers from her garden. That's the memory Sam aims to capture with all her floral arrangements. And that's the story we told on her new business brochure.
Don't be afraid to win hearts — your story is the emotional injection that can attract attention and form a connection.
Example: Petrichor Farm — wedding venue
When I was designing the new website for Petrichor Farm, I found out that business owners (and wedding photographers) Hales and Daz, had their own whirlwind romance — they met at a photographer’s ball and were engaged within three months! This story just had to feature on their website.
Take a look at the website here: www.petrichorfarm.com.au
What's your product passion?
While it might be easy to sell your absolute passion for your product or service, don't forget that your competitors will be saying the same thing too. For your story to connect to your customers, you still need to solve their problem, ease their pain and fulfil their product need — whether that's to buy local, only organic, homemade, a unique design, an innovation, or something else.
Example: Beautiful Batches — natural skincare and soaps
I recently redesigned the website for Beautiful Batches, a Canungra-based business that makes all-natural soaps, skincare and perfumes. A quick chat over coffee with business owner, Sonia Taylor revealed some lovely facts that her customers would love to know about. Because Sonia's aim is to use the best quality ingredients from as local a source as possible, I discovered that Sonia grows her own flowers for calendula, she uses fresh lavender from her daughter's garden, and her beeswax couldn't get more local — sourced from Brad who lives only 5 kilometres from Sonia's house in Canungra! She has a local network she uses to find the best single-origin products, including Australian farmers and she only buys a few products from overseas where ingredients are not grown or found in Australia. This is something her customers will be delighted to know.
You can see her beautiful new website here: www.beautifulbatches.com.au
Your brand should work to tell your story too
You can also tell your story through graphic design. For each of the projects above, I've incorporated the essence of each company's personality into their branding, logo and website and stationery design. There are a few things to think about that will help tell your story:
What is unique about your product or service?
Why did you start your business with this particular product?
What's behind your passion for your product?
If you run a family business, what is the background story and timeline – and any unusual events along the way?
What's the main problem you help your customers solve?
These are the sort of questions I ask my clients when we work together. If you'd like to tell your brand story more clearly through your visual identity, get in touch to find out more about how we can work together and get your story told.