Startup To Scale

159. How To Tell Your Brand Story

March 06, 2024 Foodbevy Season 1 Episode 159
159. How To Tell Your Brand Story
Startup To Scale
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Startup To Scale
159. How To Tell Your Brand Story
Mar 06, 2024 Season 1 Episode 159

Telling your brand story comes naturally for some, but challenging for others. In this episode I invite you to learn how to build a compelling story for your brand so you can influence how customers thing about you. I invite on Jake Ahles to walk though his F.E.E.E.D. Method to story telling.

F.E.E.E.D. stands for:


Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

Show Notes Transcript

Telling your brand story comes naturally for some, but challenging for others. In this episode I invite you to learn how to build a compelling story for your brand so you can influence how customers thing about you. I invite on Jake Ahles to walk though his F.E.E.E.D. Method to story telling.

F.E.E.E.D. stands for:


Startup to Scale is a podcast by Foodbevy, an online community to connect emerging food, beverage, and CPG founders to great resources and partners to grow their business. Visit us at to learn about becoming a member or an industry partner today.

How To Tell Your Brand Story

Jordan Buckner: [00:00:00] As a CPG brand, telling your story comes naturally for some, but it can be challenging for others to talk about themselves, their brand, and how they relate to the customers that they're helping. So a big part of this is really important because you need to stand out to your audience, make it very clear who you are, what you stand for, and how you help people achieve their goals in life.

So I invited on Jake Ahles from Morel Creative to really talk through how you can tell your story as a brand in a way that engages your audience and really impact. The way that they think about you, Jake, welcome. 

Jake Ahles: Thanks Jordan. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Jordan Buckner: So, you know, one thing that I found really curious is you have this.

Feed framework that really goes through the journey of understanding who you are as a company and then how you relate to customers. Would you mind kind of giving an overview of like what FEED stands for and what led you to this process? 

Jake Ahles: Great question. Yeah, so FEED itself stands for Facts, [00:01:00] Education, Emotion, Engagement.

And Differentiation for us, those are the ingredients that make up a brand's DNA. So the feed framework itself is a five part process that we go through with the brands that we engage with starting with the forage workshop, which dives deep into what those feed ingredients are or a given brand. 

Jordan Buckner: So I know you work with a lot of companies and develop this, I think from a lot of the problems that you saw.

So I'm curious. When you see brands out in the world or brands that you've worked with. What are some of the common mistakes that you see companies making? 

Jake Ahles: Yeah, so a common mistake we see, and it's not necessarily a mistake at the beginning, is a lot of brands are trying to figure out what their voice is.

So they're trying a bunch of different things to see what kind of works. But as a brand starts to gain some traction and grow in retailers or DTC and gets more of an audience, what we see is brands don't necessarily Then focus in what's working to be able to grow their [00:02:00] audience and their reach.

Jordan Buckner: Yeah. I'm always curious about this question. We use the words business and brand interchangeably a lot. And I'm curious about how you think about, you know, like the business versus helping to shape the brand. And is that even like possible as a brand, something like you create, or is it something that your customers interpret by what you do?

Jake Ahles: Very good question. So. Really, it's the latter, and that's a big part of what we do is the brand what your customers perceive your business to be. So a big part of the feed framework is how do you position your brand in the mind of your audience to be able to tell the story that you want them to perceive you as.

Yeah. Yeah. So having that cohesive. Content strategy so that every touch point that your brand interacts with a potential buyer, whether that be a direct customer, a retailer, a broker, a buyer at a retailer, you're telling that same story, you're presenting that same brand messaging so that you're presenting that same brand messaging.

So all the pieces work [00:03:00] together to build the perception of your brand in the minds of your overall audience. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, you know, that's one mistake that, that is so called a mistake. I think it's something that a lot of founders get themselves into when they're like, Hey, we are a gluten free pasta that's made with like X new ingredient.

And so people should buy us because of that, right? Like, why is it that enough? 

Jake Ahles: Exactly. That's a really good point. That's something that you see a lot also. So for us, those assets that you just mentioned that falls under that for facts. A lot of something we see a lot of is brands thinking like, Oh, we have these really cool facts about our brand.

That should be enough. for someone to want to buy it. But it's really the combination of, especially the three E's, the intangibles, which are emotion, education, and engagement that when you combine those with the facts, create a brand that stands out and does something, claims a new position in the marketplace.

Jordan Buckner: So let's go into those a little bit. Can you talk about like what role education plays and how You think about that as you're crafting the story. 

Jake Ahles: Yeah, so education, there's a few [00:04:00] aspects to it. First is educating about what your brand is, what your product is. It could be educating about ways to use your product.

It could be education around ways. It could be educating about the process that makes your product unique. I guess those are probably the two biggest ones, right? Is educating about, Hey, what's in your product? What is your brand? What is your brand story? The other is, how do you actually use your product at home?

Or where does it fit in the storage? You're going more B2B. And then there's also the process. If you have that unique process to your brand. 

Jordan Buckner: And then how do you kind of use emotion within that storyteller? It's about like telling the story of the founder or the people, or is it more about connecting with?

the consumer, the customer and what they're feeling. 

Jake Ahles: Sure. So emotion for us is probably the biggest of the ingredients. And going back to kind of the facts argument is a lot of people, you know, facts is logical and it seems like it should make sense, but people don't buy with logic. In fact, they buy based on emotion.

How does the product make them feel? And not just how does it make them feel necessarily emotionally, but what is it going to help them [00:05:00] achieve in their lifestyle? Whether that's. They want to be more health conscious or they want this product because they are, you know, there's a better for you product and they have some sort of weight loss goal or some other lifestyle goal.

How is it going to help them achieve that? What is this brand going to do to help the consumer achieve an emotional satisfaction within themselves? 

Jordan Buckner: And with that, like, is that something that can like just put out in the world? Is it something that. You really need to tap into the customers first to understand like what their goals are so you can amplify that message.

Like, how do you even go about starting to create that emotional story? 

Jake Ahles: It's a great question. You know, I hate to say it depends, but it sometimes depends on the product. Is this a founder led product that they maybe lived that journey and they're bringing that to them so they have that first hand knowledge? Or is it a more established brand that's trying to reach into another market sector? Obviously the first, the former of those would be more focused on knowledge while the latter would be more heavily [00:06:00] focused on market research.

What are the goals? I also think that it can be an evolving, shifting thing as a brand grows. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, you know, it's something that we're, I've been thinking about as well. Like a lot of our listeners know, I also have a curated gifting company called JoyfulCo. And one of our missions is to help people give better gifts.

And there's really this sense, right? Like when you are giving a gift to someone, there's a sense of joy, both for the person receiving the gift, but then also for the person giving the gift, right? Because they want to know that they were the send something that someone truly appreciates that makes.

Them feel connected to that person, it builds their relationship. And so there's a lot of the like a lot of emotions involved, I think, within which is something that, that I've been exploring in terms of how do we best talk about those various emotions and the way that comes off as like, as real as we want it to be without sounding marketing or fabricated, I guess.

Jake Ahles: Yeah, I think that's hugely important. You know, it's the act of getting a gift released gets that dopamine [00:07:00] hit that we're always kind of after, I suppose yeah, I mean, giving both giving a gift and receiving a gift gives you that dopamine hit that, you know, we naturally crave. And that's a very natural

Jordan Buckner: and I'm like, within that, right, I'm like, okay, in our, even in like our emails, like, how do we share them? Like, I think I talked with you before, right? Like my wife and I co founded the company. And so. You know, we've been sharing some of our stories that kind of evoke these emotional, one thing that we did to test out around Valentine's day, it's actually doing a giveaway where some of , our community would share their Valentine's day stories like best or and worst, right?

Like, what do you feel about Valentine's day and the things that you like to really kind of share those experiences, emotions and thoughts and really cultivate the sense of community around giving and receiving, which. You know, I think is comes off very, very well and that we're really enjoying in a sense of like, and like bringing people together, which has been kind of fun.

Jake Ahles: And I think you hit it on the head. There is the emotion that you're fostering. There is that sense of community we have [00:08:00] as humans that innate need to be a part of a community and to see. Our actions and others. So when you're empowering people to share their best or worst Valentine's Day story, which is great, people can relate to that because like, Oh, I had that same experience.

Like, Oh, that was a way worse experience than what I had. I don't feel so bad about that anymore. And you get that emotion. You get that connection. 

Jordan Buckner: I think that's what a lot of us are seeking with that. I love that. So let's jump into the third E of engage. Can you describe what that is and how you think about that?

Jake Ahles: So. engagement for us again is kind of a multi pronged ingredient. It starts with, how do you, with any given piece of content, how do you hook whoever your intended audience is? Whether that's a piece of social media content, or if it's your sales material where you're going into a restaurant to try and get them to carry your tequila.

what do you do to get them initially interested to want to engage whatever that piece of content is. And then there's the middle part, which is how you keep them engaged. How do you keep them wanting to interact with the content or [00:09:00] the sales pitch or whatever the the material is that you're Showcasing.

And there's various ways to do that too, which could be the environment that you're creating in the content. It could be the voice that you're using. It could be a humor element. It could be something that's potentially polarizing. You know, this kind of goes on. And then the third part of Engage for us is to close with some sort of call to action, which is not necessarily by our product, but it's how do you move them through the customer journey to Stay engaged with your brand down the road.

So it could be, you know, something that's asking for an email or it could be, you know, asking to like and subscribe or some sort of feedback loop. But of course you could always ask for a purchase as well if it's appropriate for the content. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah. I think that's something that a lot of in my, myself and a lot of founders like me struggle with is like, how do I take the content that I'm putting out?

Let's just say like on social media. And do it in a way that makes an impact on the business. And I think that's always a tricky thing, especially for brands who are [00:10:00] newer, who have limited budgets, might not be profitable yet. Right, right. How do I use this content ultimately, like the, I need to drive as many sales as possible.

If it takes one step, perfect. If it takes three, that's fine, but I know it needs to take three and not. 50 or something like 

Jake Ahles: that, right? A few thoughts on that. I mean, that's a big reason why we advocate so strongly for having a visual content strategy that all speaks together versus what we see a lot of brands do is kind of spray and pray content, hoping that something will stick.

So when you have a cohesive strategy for your visual content, then all those various pieces talk together. So when you have 3, 5, 7 pieces of content, eventually it could lead to that sale, maybe by the 3rd to the 5th, or maybe the 7th piece of content. There is a saying out there that says, a consumer needs to interact with your brand 7 times before they know, like, and trust you enough to want to make a purchase.

Which is kind of a long way of saying that by having that visual content strategy, where everything is talking to it, talking [00:11:00] to each other, you can lead the customer. From not knowing who you are to being an avid fan. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I think that's always a tough thing, right? Because especially if you're thinking about things like TikTok or reels or doing video, like how do you have all those different steps on the consumer journey from, you know, awareness, consideration, purchase, decision, repeat, like how do you share all those different messages in a way that sounds cohesive, but it can also Meet someone who's just hearing about you for the first time, and someone who might have bought from you two times already.

Jake Ahles: Right. And, you know, things like TikTok, Instagram Reels, user generated content. Those are all great places, I think, to get that really, that first interaction with brands as well. And

it's absolutely still essential to have that. Cohesive messaging, right? Because you want to be telling the same thing in that 10 second, five second video on TikTok as you are. And if you have something on your website, that's maybe like a five minute founders video or some other brand arc story. Or if a buyer sees your, [00:12:00] like a retailer buyer sees your product on TikTok, they start to get to know what your brand is.

And then you come in for the pitch like, Oh, I recognize your brand already. I've heard of you. And you're still selling the same methods, so it's all cohesive. 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So then along with that, let's talk about the last letter D of differentiation. How do you think about differentiation and incorporating that within your story?

Jake Ahles: So differentiation, the kind of key of this ingredient for us is combining the first four ingredients. By combining the first four ingredients, you can differentiate your brand. So what are the facts that are key to your brand that set you apart? What is the emotion that you're evoking? , in the emotion, what are you helping your consumer? How can you educate them about your brand and what are the different ways you can engage with them? So by combining those four, you create a unique selling proposition that sets your brand apart from even similar brands within your niche.

Jordan Buckner: Awesome. So yeah, all those things come together [00:13:00] to then create what's differentiated , about your brand. Yes. So I love that. So I love that kind of sense of storytelling and process. Right. And you walk through brands, like brands through this process, but to our listeners, like you could do this yourself, right?

Thinking about to start, right? If you, if you can, if you need help, you know, go to people who can help you with it. But think about the facts of your brand. The emotions that your brand is creating in the world also that your consumers are having the educational components around your product and your service, creating engaging content.

And then all that comes together to create why you're different and , why you so then Jake, now that a brand, let's say has all these components, how do you then leverage it to create that content strategy? So that you can continuously show up in the world. 

Jake Ahles: Yeah. So at least within the framework, after we do the forge workshop, we move into what we call our strategy cookbook, which is really the master plan for your brand's story.

It's for your brand's visual strategy. So we like to think of it as taking the ingredients that we forged for in the workshop to create. Different content [00:14:00] recipes blending kind of the right mix of content types, the messaging, the visual styles, the distribution channels you're going to use to cook up the brand narratives that are only cohesive, but are irresistibly engaging to your target audience.

You know, it's, that's all I want to say there.

Jordan Buckner: Is it around to creating the Like visual style. So when you're thinking about it, is it more like these are the topics that we want to be experts in. And so like we create content around these kinds of content pillars, or are you also thinking visually, like we, these are like, obviously like our brand colors, but like, we're like a ready button up professional brand, or we are very like ad hoc or, you know, informal, are you including those visual cues in there too?

Jake Ahles: Absolutely. So one way we like to think about it is if you've ever done a formal branding exercise where you go through and do your brand messaging and your visual identity. It's akin to that, but specifically for your visual content strategy. So it's figuring out what is the messaging, what is your tone of voice?

[00:15:00] How are we visually presenting ourselves? Are we going to be humorous? Are we going to be, you know, more professional or formal? What is the way that we speak to our audience? And how do we, if we're speaking to, how do we speak to our audience on TikTok? How do we speak to our audience at a trade show?

How do we speak to. Distributors and buyers at retail stores and how can those all be telling the same message? 

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I think that's super important. You know, one thing that, I mean, I've experienced this was like, I've gone through like branding exercises and thinking about like how we want to talk about things, but then when it comes to creating dozens or hundreds of pieces of content, when you're just like in production mode, how do you maintain that visual sense of identity as a small team that doesn't have like a dedicated video or like really even marketing person sometimes so that it all.

looks like it fits together. Well, as you're showing up in the world, I think that's, you know, a challenge that a lot of our founders listening might be facing. They're like, I kind of get it conceptually, but when I'm like [00:16:00] executing as a small team, it gets really challenging 

Jake Ahles: 100 percent right? So , that's a big reason that we put the forge workshop first.

And how do we get all those ideas out of a founder's head onto paper and onto recording? And then Taking those and creating a strategy cookbook, which then kind of becomes a Bible for any content that you're going to produce because then you can just turn to it's like, okay, this is the tone of voice that we use for this category of thing.

And then you can even send that to say, you're working with an outsourced content creation agency. You can just hand this off to them. It's like, here's our voice, here's our messaging, here's the look and feel that we included all of our work. And then you don't have to sit with them and micromanage everything they're doing because they have it all in one place already.

Jordan Buckner: Yeah, I think that's awesome. Jake, thanks so much for sharing that beat framework. I think it's super helpful as brands are thinking about how do I then translate like what my idea of my brand is in my head to something that's out on paper or document so that you can either reference it yourself, share it with a team or outside agencies or creators so that all the content follows The same tone, the same [00:17:00] messaging, the same content strategy, and making sure your brand shows up in the world the way that you want it to be perceived and less driven by just the accidental ways you might show up. So I think that that's super helpful. 

Jake Ahles: Yeah. Having intention behind what you're putting out into the world.

Jordan Buckner: I love that. Jake, thanks for being on. I'm going to include some notes in the podcast show notes for anyone who wants to learn more about the feed methodology as well. Thanks so much, Jake. Thanks, 

Jake Ahles: Jordan. It was a pleasure.