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The Secrets of Effective Storytelling for Brands

Posted April 22nd, 2013 in Articles by Eko S

Storytelling is not just composing a story, its a process of meaning-making. If you integrate stories into your business’ website for sure they will strengthen your positions in front of customers. Through storytelling, you can reflect any aspect of your “business identity” and represent it in any manner. Stories provide some sort of a record of your business evolution, and in return your clients can use it to assess the quality of your services/products and business in general.

Stories what they are, why we need them?

In childhood everyone of us is fed with various stories (depending on your origin stories will differ). As we get older those stories change significantly and take different forms and interpretations. Our stories grow with us, thus getting more serious (or not) shades.

From the early childhood we adopt storytelling as one of the forms of communication and interaction with our parents. Via stories we absorb the basis of human relationships and basic understanding of the of moral. A big wolf eats Red Riding Hood – this is bad, hunters kill wolf – this is good, is it?

Now everyone can tell stories, they try but fail, cause it sounds like a lullaby that puts you to sleep. If you can’t tell stories – run away, run to the mountains, because you need to have those stories told to your clients, especially those that are fun, engaging and smooth.

Let’s consider some examples: one story will be presented in two variants text and image, then you decide which is better for memorizing.

  • Variant 1

In 1748, the British politician and aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich used a lot of his free time for playing cards. One of the problems he had was that he greatly enjoyed eating a snack, whilst still keeping one hand free for the cards.

So he came up with the idea to eat beef between slices of toast, which would allow him to finally eat and play cards at the same time. Eating his newly invented “sandwich”, the name for 2 slices of bread with meat in between, became one of the most popular meal inventions in the western world.

  • Variant 2

Storytelling Effects for Brand

The same story can be presented in a dozen of other variants: bullet lists, diagrams, flowchart and so on and so forth.

Storytelling as a part of communication

What’s the essence of human interaction? That is communication, we talk, we share info, we tell stories of any kind, about anything. What’s the first thing you do when you meet your friend? You tell him about some event you’ve experienced recently, and he does the same thing in return.

The way we communicate, along with things we say, shape the way we feel about ourselves, the person speaking, and even others who are not in the room right now. Stories we tell form our personality:

  • funny story – makes you happy and luminous
  • dull and gloomy stories make you…

Storytelling Effects for Brand

Storytelling, from this perspective, is about power over, influence and impact.

The way we talk to people creates, sustains and sometimes destroys our relationships , same thing can happen to your business if clients or website visitors feel some sort of moral abuse or contempt from your side.

The way we communicate and share our stories is crucial to make better social worlds. It’s not about winning the argument of what’s sustainability, or that you receive and accept transmission of the “real” meaning of sustainability.

Everyone of us sees storytelling as a special form of communication that creates positive results and shift of view for individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. Some outcomes of your work with clients includes increased communication competency and ability to tell stories that will definitely improve the whole system, i.e. your website and your business. This includes outcomes such as:

  • Intercultural competence.
  • Linear and non-linear styles of narrative.
  • Developed trust and respect.
  • Enhanced sense of self, group morale and efficiency.
  • Increased capability for creative problem solving and creative visioning.

Do Stories Inspire?

How many times have you been fascinated by a good story? Take your time and think about it, cause it can be more often than you think. How many times have you read a captivating novel novel till the early morning? How many times “you were highly motivated” after you’ve heard a story of someone’s success, or changed your opinion after reading a well-written magazine or newspaper article?

There is no doubt at all that stories can significantly change the way we think, act, and feel. Everyone of us can use a good story to have a weight on somebody’s thought or simply to motivate somebody. The essence of a good story is to inspire starting from understanding up to the action. Stories can easily capture our imaginations and make things so real that the hard facts, we are so used to, can never do.

Make no mistake – stories can be very, very powerful tools. Great leaders know this, and many top CEOs use stories to illustrate points and sell their ideas.

Storytelling + brand promotion = lies…mostly?

Copywriters are the kind of people that can unintentionally spoil everything. A badly written story can be a nail in the writer’s coffin, and sometimes even company he or she works for. Before starting to write the story about the company writer needs to be told everything including

things he/she already knows. This sounds strange but in some cases facts get twisted in such an exquisite manner that everyone will get it backwards. So how exactly should a business story look like:

  • It should express company’s vision.
  • It should convey corporate culture and values.
  • It should share information.

Business story will help us understand what happened by:

  • Organizing events into a sequence.
  • Assigning actions to specific characters.
  • Infer causality and relationships.

In most cases these must-have point are omitted and the story that is supposed to be both informative, interesting, engaging and motivational turns into corporate bull. I’m going to write couple of lines for you to know what a corporate bull is. According to B Bronn Tenant there are three words that characterize corporate copywriting:

  • Boastful
  • Banal
  • Boring

Here is an example from a real world:

“SEO Consult are the specialist search engine optimisation division of Click Consult, who are a leading provider of search engine marketing solutions in the UK. Through a range of innovative, organic and ethical techniques, SEO Consult have helped their 325+ clients reach highly targeted traffic, delivering a healthy ROI for both niche businesses and highly recognisable brands.”

Sounds ok, the language is fine, but there are some baffling things like: innovative, organic and ethical techniques. What’s that? I guess I’m the only person whom this selection somehow confuses. Rather than telling what exactly those techniques are person who wrote this text called them innovative, organic and ethical. As a result it conveys no clear information & it tells the reader nothing interesting. Since there is nothing interesting, user stops reading long before getting to the end.

Summation

Here are the main points of a digital story best for brand promotion.

  1. Find your story.
  2. Map your story.
  3. Capture your audience’s attention right away, and keep it.
  4. Tell your story from your unique point of view.
  5. Use fresh and vivid language.
  6. Integrate emotion – yours and the audience’s.
  7. Be as brief as you can be.

Generally storytelling should remind a series of interconnected advertisement cause storytelling is one of the ad formats that has a direct connection with the user.

From everything said above it is clear that any advertising text should be compatible with different types of ads placed into different media. This text should meet the requirements of specific media and formats, in addition to the principles and guidelines of an effective advertising. When writing a text for different medias one needs to be aware of some common mistakes in advertising texts.

  • Indistinctness – be sure to avoid using generalizations and polysemantic words. If you say that the car is stylish it does not mean that it has smooth, aerodynamic lines;
  • Wordiness – the text should correspond limited time frames, if it evokes bored there will be no interaction at all;
  • Banality – banal text harms the brand, it’s perceived as boring and old-fashioned;
  • Сreativity for the sake of creativity – some copywriters get too busy playing with words, way too funny and fancy text join the ranks of advertising mishaps.

About the Author!

Written by Alex – I’m one of those guys willing to play with words getting the message across to the end user. This post as well as many others was written with one aim in my mind – buy a chopper. Well, also if you need a clean WP theme, you can ask me where you can get one. Follow me on Twitter, G+.

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