A Whole Lotta Soul: An Introduction to Brand Soul Stories

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Sheet ghost with sunglasses on holding 2 pumpkin-themed balloons with title "A Whole Lotta Soul: An Introduction to Brand Soul Stories"

It’s officially #SpookySzn, and what better way to celebrate than with an overview of the spookiest-sounding part of a brand? That’s right, today we’re talking about Soul Stories. Our H&G copywriting team recently created a presentation for the agency about the importance of Soul Stories, and had our non-writing team members take a stab at creating one for some fun sample brands. In honor of this upcoming Halloween, we thought we’d share our best tips for writing a ghostly-good Soul Story that’s sure to bewitch your audience—to take action and connect with your brand’s values, that is!

What is a Soul Story?

Sometimes also referred to as a “Brand Mantra” or “Brand Essence,” the Soul Story is your brand’s rallying cry. This internal-facing message ties together the emotionally charged statement of why you exist, the community you’re joining, and the mission you’re on in the world. To put it simply, the Soul Story states why your brand exists, and how it’s different from all the others out there.

Soul Stories are usually multi-paragraph narratives, and referenced as part of a brand’s assets along with things like logo use, tone of voice guidelines, color choices, and more. Because they’re usually for internal use, meaning they’re not seen by consumers, they aren’t trying to convince the reader why they should buy something or going into detail about the brand’s specific products or services. Instead, they’re meant to help make sure everyone who works for a brand understands its core purpose and values, so that everything produced is cohesive and ties back to that main identity. 

Why is it Important?

Essentially, these statements are at the heart (or you could say, the SOUL) of all other brand messaging. It’s important to get it right, so that every consumer touchpoint (think websites, social media presence, advertisements) can tie back to a core story. No pressure! 

This concept of brand identity has always been important, but is even more so in today’s age where people, especially Gen Z, are skeptical of advertising and seeking to buy from brands with a clear purpose besides just making money. Today’s consumers want to feel seen and understood by brands, especially those in industries like beauty and fashion that have historically portrayed unattainable representations of their audience. Therefore, the Soul Story is a crucial first step to identifying what your brand stands for and how you want your audience to feel. It’s also an opportunity to apply these aspects of inclusivity and purpose-driven missions that today’s consumers are craving. 

If you need more convincing, take a look at one of our favorite purpose-driven brands: Patagonia. The company recently made headlines for transferring ownership to a trust and nonprofit to combat climate change, but even before that, the brand had a strong identity that was present in its consumer-facing purpose statement: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” While the company likely has a longer, internally-facing Soul Story as well, this bold mission shows how the brand has sought to connect with consumers who care about environmentalism and woven this purpose throughout their messaging. And based on what we know about the company, it’s been a successful strategy.

cartoon skeleton holding carved pumpkin with "Tips and Tricks: The Soul Story Skeleton" text

Tips and Tricks: The Soul Story Skeleton

Perfectly fitting with our spooky season theme, an easy way to get started with drafting a Soul Story is with a skeleton! This loose framework is a starting point for deciding what to include in your statement. Then, once you have the basics down, you can spice it up with your unique brand voice, a play on words, bold language, or a creative format.

As a …

[Insert business or brand description, and content destination if appropriate, e.g., “As the blog for a leading sportswear brand … ”]

… we aim to provide …

[Insert key target audience(s), e.g., b2b decision-makers, parents of young children, people serious about sport, etc.]

… with …

[Insert subject matter and themes, e.g., “with insightful and inspirational tips and ideas for improving their sporting performance.”]

… in order to …

[Insert the desired outcome for you and your users, e.g., “in order to position our brand as a generous provider of expert information and so raise our profile at the purchase consideration phase.”]

[Skeleton Source: Bettermarketing.pub]

The most important thing is to make it unique to your brand! Some of our other top tips: try to differentiate from competitors, be emotive and relatable, use words relevant to your industry, and be creative. You’ll be on a roll with your brand’s soul in no time :)

white cat with golden glow behind it with text "Helen & Gertrude Team Examples"

Team Examples

To practice putting these tips into action at H&G, we split up into four groups and had each team choose a sample brand for which to write a Soul Story in just 15 minutes. We ended up with a fun, quirky, and honestly pretty impressive (if we do say so ourselves) assortment of brand stories for Blockbuster, Taco Bell, 818 Tequila,  and a fictional Goat Yoga Studio. Check them out!

Blockbuster

We took a backseat the last couple of years and heard you—and we’re back to making movie night a ritual. 
Streaming prices are up, cost of living is up, but you know what, so is nostalgia. Get all your classics and new faves to rent or buy! 

No ads. Additional special features. And consistent low prices to make sure your movie night isn’t just a night of endless scrolling. 

Start that group text and meet us at our spot.

Blockbuster: Where movie night premieres.

Taco Bell

We get you. You get us. 

As your friendly neighborhood burrito dealer, we’re there for you through every craving. Like being wrapped in a warm tortilla hug, showered in a fountain of nacho cheese, or blasted by baja—we’re comfortingly ageless.

Our nostalgic, indulgent offerings are there for you through every phase of life, whether it’s the 2am drive-thru in college, or after your best friend’s wedding.  

We know we have our haters out there who say we’re not “real” Mexican food…but let’s be honest, three bites into a $4 cheesy chicken quesadilla, you know you don’t care.

And for those that doubt us, we see you too. In fact, we’re there for our veg-heads, vegans, and everyone in between, which is why we focus on our ingredients and are one of the healthiest fast food chains out there. We may not take everything seriously, but when it comes to our people, we know you know we love you.

Take that, $14 burrito. 

818 Tequila

The Magic of Home 

818 is more than just an area code–it’s home. In our home, we come together to share  (spirit)ual experiences with every drop of this award-winning tequila.

Our ambition leads us in our sustainable practices as we focus on the earth as our home. 818 gives you the taste of authentic agave sustainably harvested by hand and fired in traditional brick ovens. 

Goat Yoga Studio (to be read from the POV of the goats, of course)

You milk us. You make us eat grass. We lost George to another coyote last night …

It’s been gruff. Our nipples hurt, our teeth are stained green, and we’re losing friends. We’re starting Goat Yoga. 

And it’s not what you’re thinking. Just goats doing yoga — for goats to relieve the burden humans place on our backs.

Eagle pose - AHHHHHH - *silence* Sorry I heard a scream coming from the distance. Anyways, cat pose, cow pose - y’all can chill for a minute. Downward-facing goat is what’s up. 

Now for a little namaste, everyone. Shivasanahhh, coyotes and RIP George - The GOAT: Greatest of All Time.

Sammy Boyd
Copywriter

Sammy is a former media strategist, now copywriter, who helps clients find the right words to share their stories. Outside of work, she spends time watching reality television, planning her next weekend trip, and working towards her yearly reading goal.

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