Your 5 Step Guide to a Great B2B Brand Story

June 25, 2018

little boy is the hero of his own story

Business-to-business organizations sometimes are treated like the red-headed stepchild of the corporate world. They’re always last to get the shiny new object, last to adopt new policies and procedures, and last to try the new social networks.

Consumer businesses have all the fun. Or do they?

While consumer businesses tend to get the most attention in the news for their latest and greatest digital marketing campaign, it’s their “more serious” counterparts that get to be more creative and have more fun. It’s easy to sell candy bars and soda pop. It takes a really special digital marketing team to sell doors and locks or military-grade pens or car insulation.

The challenge is to remove all of the corporate jargon rampant in your organization and learn how to tell a brand story—one that includes passion, a protagonist, an antagonist, a revelation, and a transformation.

1. Passion

What is it that your audience really cares about? Tell your stories from the customer’s point-of-view. These aren’t customer quotes or testimonials; these are customer stories.

The passion lies in how your product is created, your office culture, what your customer cares about or how they use your product or service in interesting ways, or the one thing your organization truly cares about that makes you unique and valuable to the world around you.

2. The Protagonist

The protagonist is you, your company, your product, or your service. This is typically where stories begin and end, but in the brand storytelling process, this is just the beginning.

To figure out who your protagonist is—the leader of the organization, a social media rockstar within your ranks, a spokesperson, a subject matter expert, a cartoon superhero of your logo—ask a handful of people in various roles to share five adjectives they’d use to describe the company and two aspects of the organization that are unique or valuable. Look for themes or strong responses and combine them into a clearly defined description of your protagonist’s attributes.

3. The Antagonist

The antagonist is the villain and is often the most overlooked part of an organization’s story. What is the enemy of your success?

Think about it as an issue or challenge you solve. What keeps your customers awake at night? Is it a cultural issue? Is it an industry concern?

Perhaps you work in print distribution and the products you make are becoming extinct because everything is going online and you no longer have something to distribute.

Maybe it’s a real problem like the hassle of setting up payroll, or email overload. Being able to answer those questions will help you find your protagonist.

4. The Revelation

Part of what makes fiction so compelling are twists or turns you weren’t expecting. We enjoy surprise and delight, because we like to feel like we’re being let in on a secret.

Likewise, your organization’s story should share something unexpected with customers and prospects.

5. The Transformation

The final part to your story is the transformation, or the thing(s) different about the way you do business.

Think about how your company has evolved. Think about the problem you solve and how it connects with both emotional and practical needs.

What is your value proposition? What can customers get only from you? It might be intellectual property or a new way of doing things or a cool new widget. People want to know how you arrived there.

Pulling it All Together

You also need to start with an idea, theme, or concept. Going out and telling the company’s history isn’t going to fly. Choose one interesting tidbit and start there.

My name is Gini. I’m a cyclist, and I race every summer. I’m ultra-competitive, which doesn’t translate well while leading my team. As the founder of my organization, I’ve found getting that competitiveness out on the bike makes me a better leader when I get to work.

See how that begins to work much better than: We were founded in 2005 with a computer and a spreadsheet, at my kitchen table.

Choose your passion, protagonist, antagonist, revelation, and transformation. If you include those five things in all of your brand storytelling, every person in the world is going to want to know more, no matter if you sell oxidizers or software or chair rollers. The world is your oyster.

For more inspiring B2B storytelling, flip through your free digital copy of Sophistocated Marketer Quarterly: Storytelling Edition