Why do people buy TOMS shoes when they could find a similar pair of shoes that are less expensive?  It’s not because TOMS makes a shoe of superior quality.  It’s because they know how to create a powerful brand story.

Humans are wired to share and remember stories.  This simple fact is one of the reasons why content marketing is so effective.  As people get better at tuning marketers out, it is more important than ever to wrap your brand’s message in a captivating story.

But as you might have guessed, telling a brand story that connects with your audience isn’t easy.  Though we may not be able to write a compelling brand story for you, we can help you get on the track with these six simple steps:

Step #1:  Know Your Audience

Understanding your target audience on a deeper level is essential to writing stories that connect with them.  Sure, you may know that your target audience is made up of millennial women—but if that’s all you know, then it’s going to be difficult to write stories that speak to them on a personal level.

To better understand your audience, you need to uncover their attitudinal behaviors and preferences.  What motivates your audience? What do they love, hate, or fear?  This data is invaluable when it comes to creating a brand story that captures their attention and drives them to action.

Step #2:  Look Inward

Before you can begin writing your brand’s story, you need to do a little soul searching.  What made you start your business?  What is your business’s mission?

Few people are going to resonate with a business that was started for the sole purpose of making money.  Rather, they want to hear about the passion behind your business. 

Title Nine, a women’s fitness apparel company, is a good example of an inspiring brand story.  The original founder wanted to continue the efforts of Title IX, a piece of legislation that prohibited schools from discriminating on the basis of gender in sports and other programs.

Title Nine has grown into a successful, omni-channel retailer because it was born out of a worthy cause—to empower women.  Your brand doesn’t need to change the world to achieve similar success, but it should express your passion and have a positive impact.

Step #3 Give Your Brand a Distinct Voice and Style

Your brand story is made up of a series of stories which are expressed through your content marketing strategy.  If your brand doesn’t have a distinct voice or style, your story is going to become lost in the shuffle.

To help you find your voice, think about your brand as a person.  What would their personality be like?  How would this person express themselves to others?  By picturing your brand as a person, you can create a voice that builds trust in your audience and adds a human element to your business.

Your voice and style may not develop overnight, but it is important to establish your brand voice early.  The more consistent you brand voice is, the more effective your content marketing will be.

Step 4:  Speak Your Audience’s Language

Imagine giving a presentation to two different groups, one with teenagers and another with business professionals.  The language and tone you use would probably change based upon these two different audiences.

When it comes to your brand story, you will need to think about the language that is best to communicate with your target audience.  What words and phrases does your audience use to speak?  If you aren’t certain, spend time in forums related to your niche and pay attention to how they talk with one another.

When you get to writing your brand story, pay attention to your choice of words.  Certain words can be extremely effective at tapping into our emotions, allowing our messages to sink in. 

Of course, the opposite is true as well.  Some scientists have contended that common figures of speech such as “a rough day” are so familiar that they are no longer effective at stimulating the brain.

The takeaway?  Your choice of words matter.  They can make the different between a brand story that is shared millions of times and one that never gets off the ground.

Step #5:  Build a Lifestyle Around Your Story

What do REI, Apple, and GoPro have in common?  They have all successfully built lifestyles around their brand.

Achieving this isn’t easy, but it’s something that your brand should aspire to.  Creating a culture around your brand is an effective way to gain more fans and followers who will drive more revenue to your business.

The basis of a thriving culture originates from your brand story.  The brands listed above managed to build a successful culture around their businesses by allowing their audience to be part of their brand story.

If you want to see content marketing done right, just look at REI.  The outdoor brand is excellent at storytelling and had huge success with its #OptOutside campaign last year.  Most businesses would never close their doors on Black Friday, but REI’s core values resonated with their customers.  Together, REI and their customers accomplished something big.

Many of us long to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Give your audience this opportunity by allowing them to be part of your brand story.

Step #6:  Be Consistent

Your brand story communicates your core values and tells everyone what your organization stands for.  From the moment you launch your brand, it’s important that you never compromise your core values.

According to recent research, one in three Americans care more about the brand and its values than they do about the product.  If your brand is inconsistent and untrustworthy, you are turning away loyal customers and sales.

The foundation of your story should never waver.  You may change your logo over time or adjust your brand voice to reflect your audience’s current language.  But your core values should always remain the same.

Similarly, your brand’s message should be consistent in every marketing channel and at every customer touchpoint.  This builds trust in your brand, which can potentially turn loyal customers into valuable brand ambassadors for your organization.