07 March 2019

Seven Stories literature charity shares tips on storytelling

In celebration of World Book Day, we met with Seven Stories based at BizSpace Design Works to find out all about their work with championing children's literature, and pick their brains on how to define your brand story. 

How flexible workspace empowers local charity

Children's literature charity Seven Stories are on a mission to collect, champion and celebrate children's literature. They’ve built an extensive children’s literature archive stretching from the 1930s to the present day. They showcase in exhibitions at the museum in Ouseburn Valley and they also take their archives on exhibition tours around the UK.
Their aim is to encourage people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to enjoy a lifetime of reading and stories through inventive and immersive exhibitions, events and learning programmes.
They store the archive at Design Works in Gateshead and use the space as their head office where five of their staff are based. This provides Seven Stories with the flexibility and convenience they need.


Storytelling humanises your brand 

Samantha Kane, Centre Manager at Design Works said: “We're truly proud that we can provide a safe space for Seven Stories to keep their archives, and be a small part of their story. We get to know a lot of business owners here. It’s fascinating to hear about how they started, or the interesting products or services they offer. There could be a lot of value in sharing those stories with their audience by building a connection and humanising the brand.”

Sharing stories is exactly what they do at Seven Stories, so we had a chat with Victoria Sanderson, Marketing & Communications Manager, to get her top tips on storytelling for small businesses.

Victoria said: "From story-telling at events to opening up our archive to unveil the creative process behind bringing a story to life – we believe that sharing stories, opens up the imagination and fires up creativity. Our advice to small business owners would be to use the art of storytelling to bring your business or brand to life." 

So, to define your story, follow Victoria’s tips below:


Defining your brand's story

Start by asking yourself;

  • What’s your story and how did you come to be where you are now?

By going back to the drawing board, you can tap into why you started your business in the first place. Did you start a yoga business after being inspired by travelling? Did you invent the perfect fold-up bicycle after years of begrudged commutes? Creating a compelling brand story brings your product or service to life, and will help you connect with your audience.

  • Do you make products or deliver services?  Why have you chosen these products or services? There will surely be a story there to share which your customer will be keen to hear about.

By answering these questions you'll be able to begin defining your story, which you can use on the 'about us' section on your website, and even pitch to the press. Reach out to local papers, and publications relevant to your business. It's a good idea to find out about lead times, quarterly magazines can work up to six months ahead for example.

It doesn’t just end with an awesome ‘about us’ page. Once you’ve nailed that, you can use it to help define your company’s values. You can also use it as a starting point to create great content throughout the rest of your communications.


Getting creative with digital 

Customers want to find out about the who behind the brand. Consider;

  • Filming ‘meet the team’ videos

Meet the team videos put a face behind the business. Based on your brand story, you can consider including elements of humour; or other unique ways of storytelling. Meet the team videos are a great way to get across your company’s values, so make sure they’re clearly defined before you start!

  •     Filming behind-the-scene stories on Instagram to give your clients a glimpse into the work that you do. 

Don’t let the fear of creating a video put you off, the beauty with Instagram stories is that they aren’t Hollywood productions. They can help build awareness and engagement, and drive traffic to your website. Consider capturing moments at staff meetings or unveiling a new product that’s just arrived. You could even do quick Q&A’s with members of the team.


When in doubt, research!

If you’re unsure how to start developing your brand story, start with doing some market research – head to the ‘about us’ pages from brands that inspire you. Follow businesses on Instagram and see how they use stories to engage their audience.
Head to networking events, it’s a great way to meet like-minded business people and get some great advice. You’ll be able to find events local to you through Eventbrite.
But just remember, this is your brand story. It needs to be unique to you. A bit of inspiration will be beneficial but don’t be inclined to start copying. Focus on your brand, and start with asking why.


Hannah Lloyd-Jones