Since time immemorial, we’ve told stories to make sense of the world around us. Storytellers are weavers of dreams and purveyors of valuable lessons. From Sophocles to Stephen King, good storytellers have the ability to profoundly affect us, both emotionally and cerebrally. Great storytelling doesn’t just manipulate our feelings and stimulate our empathy, it also makes us think about life, the world and our place within it. Long before we were writing stories in books, we shared them around fires and daubed them on cave walls, and when we didn’t have the words to tell them, we told them through dance and movement.
But what does all this have to do with your digital marketing efforts?
Glad you asked.
Gather round, make yourselves comfortable and pour yourself a cup of something hot. We’re about to tell you a tale of brand storytelling and why it should play an important part in your digital marketing strategy.
Like all good stories, we’re going to start by getting to know our hero. Brand storytelling is a powerful and multifaceted protagonist. And like many literary heroes, it’s malleable, enabling us to project our values, ideas and attitudes onto it.
Brand storytelling, in its simplest terms, is the use of narrative conventions to engage your target audience. It can use characters, locations, themes, action, climax and denouement. It is highly versatile, enabling you to craft compelling narratives that can engage your audience more effectively, give your brand a more distinctive voice, and create more meaningful and resonant brand experiences.
It requires the skilful interweaving of facts and emotive language to add depth and resonance to your marketing content.
Facts and data are important. But without context, they tend not to be terribly memorable. In our zeal to share how amazing our products and services are to customers, we can fall into the trap of getting a little too granular in the facts and statistics which we present to our audiences. This can lead to marketing content that is drier and less compelling than it could be.
The addition of storytelling conventions adds that context while capturing the imagination, allowing your message to resonate more meaningfully.
Here are a few of the reasons why brand storytelling is such an important marketing skill.
Your brand is awesome. But how can you expect nascent prospects to differentiate yours from the legions of others competing for their attention? Even if you have the data to quantify what makes you stand out among your competitors, audiences may not find it as compelling as you do. However, embracing storytelling conventions can add context and relevance to that data, anchoring it in the prospect’s mind more effectively. Stories are over 20 times more memorable than facts.
Amidst a sea of competitors, brand storytelling can make your marketing and your brand more memorable.
Nobody wants to do business with a faceless, soulless automaton. The age-old adage that ‘people buy from people’ may be an oversimplification, but human interest is often more compelling to audiences than a smorgasbord of stats.
Brand storytelling can give your brand a tangible sense of personality and character, creating situations and personalities that prospects can latch onto.
Of course, this is nothing new. Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders, Bertie Basset and other fictitious and semi-fictitious character mascots have been used to aid storytelling and humanise brands.
Your brand is about so much more than what you do. It’s about the positive emotions, thoughts and associations that you want prospects to experience when they think of you. When done properly, brand storytelling can generate a sincere and long-lasting emotional connection with your brand. It can spark conversations, garner meaningful online engagement and turn your brand into an experience that they can enjoy whether they’re new to your brand or already loyal customers.
As we can see, brand storytelling can be a powerful tool in the never-ending battle for audience engagement. But what might it look like in real terms?
The beauty of brand storytelling is that it’s a multifaceted tool that can be used in a number of ways, from regular webcomics to serialised video content to grandiose installations in busy public places.
There are all kinds of ways in which you can use stories to engage your target audience.
Let’s take a look.
You’re great at what you do. And you have a lot of compelling data to prove it. But as eager as you are to share that data, take a moment to consider how you could use storytelling conventions to make it more meaningful and memorable.
Find a way to put it in the context of a story that piques the audience’s human interest. Make it accessible with infographics, charts and graphs. The right presentation can transform a dry list of stats into a compelling miniature graphic novel.
Sharing your brand’s story is not just bragging about your operational prowess. It’s about helping them to better understand the values and attitudes that your brand stands for. Which is why brand activism should be a key part of your Corporate Social Responsibility. Tell your audience about the social and charitable causes that matter to you, and why. Help them understand what you’re doing to help and the impact that your contributions have.
Help them to understand that by supporting you, they are also supporting the causes that matter to you and to them.
Did you ever wonder why people queue up to watch the latest superhero blockbuster at the multiplex? Or why ‘Star Wars’ is one of the most popular and successful franchises in cinematic history? Sure, visual spectacle is part of the draw. But the fact is that people love simple stories of good and bad, heroes and villains.
Many brands apply this very concept to their brand storytelling. They introduce the audience to a protagonist– someone just like them who has the same problems, frustrations and pain points. They then introduce their brand as the solution to that protagonist’s problem.
Not that you necessarily have to be this literal, of course. Remember that iconic Orwellian Apple Mac ad from the 80s? That managed to position the brand as the hero of its story without a single reference to the Macintosh’s capabilities.
True stories are often the most compelling. So make sure you share every aspect of yours. Build your brand storytelling around real people in real situations. Share the lived experiences of your employees, and help your audience get to know their expertise and achievements. What’s more, brand storytelling can also be used to tell your customers’ stories and share their authentic relationship with your brand. This combines narrative conventions with that most precious commodity– social proof.
We all love stories. But we can quickly become frustrated with stories that are meandering, irrelevant or incoherent. So, how do you know you’re telling the right brand story? The kind that garners meaningful engagement and turns casual readers or listeners into loyal brand advocates?
The beauty of brand storytelling is that it allows for a wide range of stories to be told through a variety of media from blog posts to videos to podcast episodes. This enables you to experiment with different stories and formats and use your analytics tools to judge which stories resonate the most strongly with your target audience.
Copy testing is a great way to see how members of your target audience will react to your stories and enable you to make adjustments based on their feedback. However, ask yourself these questions to guide you in the right direction:
Are you looking for skilled wordsmiths to help you create compelling brand narratives? Look no further. We use a pool of phenomenal copywriters to deliver a fantastic range of copywriting services to businesses in virtually any sector. Are you ready to start the first chapter in your new story?
Get in touch with our team today.