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Four Types of Stories and When to Use Them

Four Types of Stories and When to Use Them

Stories are an innate part of what it means to be human. Stories are at the core of our identities and what allows us to ultimately relate and connect to one another—and what better way is there to present yourself to the world than through a story? But not just any story—one that differentiates yourself, captivates audiences, and elevates your brand. But how do we accomplish this nebulous task?

According to Kindra Hall’s, Stories That Stick, when marketing yourself, there are four different types of stories you can tell: the value story, the customer story, the founder story, and the purpose story. The basic components of any story include identifiable characters, authentic emotions, a moment, and specific details.

The Value Story

As an old coworker of mine used to say before doing almost anything, “what’s the value story here?” The value story is arguably the most important staple of marketing and is what acts as the bridge between buyer and product. It can be used for any product or service you wish to sell and it answers the potential buyer’s question, “what’s in it for me?”

Before fleshing out your value story, it’s helpful to know who your ideal customer for your product is. From there, you can imagine what their daily life looks like, what kind of relationships they have, and what their frustrations are.

The value story leads with how the buyer’s life will be improved and either directly or indirectly addresses your customer’s specific pain points. This is followed by how the product will do that detailing the exact product features that make this “improved” life possible.

Here’s a value story we’ve done for Visit the Woodlands:

The Customer Story

The customer story is a testimonial come to life. It shares similarities to value stories, but differentiates itself in that it is coming from a consumer and starts off its story with the pain points. These stories work particularly well after the potential buyer has already been introduced to the value story—the customer story can give credibility and reiterate the value story.

This customer testimony will start of by describing the frustrations they had before using the product and how much of an impact these frustrations had on their life, then they introduce your product or service that addressed these pain points. Subsequently, they describe their life today now that they have this product in their life and what their “new normal” looks like.

Here is an example of a customer story we have done to advertise FieldFx software:

The Founder Story

The founder story explains how the founder came to be who they are today. This type of story is especially effective when trying to attract like-minded consumers who can relate to the founder’s characteristics or ideals—this subsequently motivates people to support the brand.

This type of story involves detailing what life was like for this person before founding this company, the process of creating the brand, and what life looks like for them now. The most important part of telling these kinds of stories is really detailing the founder’s struggles before or during the creation of the brand and what personal choices or characteristics the founder exercised to overcome these struggles and ultimately find success.

This type of story, however, does not work for all brands, as some companies do not have a particularly compelling founder story of overcoming obstacles or taking risks.

Here is a little bit of a different take on the founder story we have done—this video explains the life of medical researcher, Richard Whitley. We explain medical contributions he made and what the medical field looked like before his contributions.

The Purpose Story

The purpose story explains (much like what the title suggests) the company’s purpose or mission. These stories are especially effective when used internally to unite larger organizations or externally to motivate people to participate in a call-to-action.

When creating this type of story, consider the lesson or takeaway you want to communicate and ask yourself how and when you learned that message. This can serve as the blueprint for how you start off your purpose story.

Here is an example of a purpose story we have done for Houston nonprofit Rebuilding Together: