Brand storytelling is a creative marketing approach that has been gaining momentum for a while now. Businesses attempt to shorten the distance between their brand and target audience by creating an emotional bond between the two.
Establishing a personal connection with the customer is yet another perk of the brand storytelling approach that results in a sudden increase in customer’s trust, engagement, and loyalty.
Storytelling is a powerful tool often integrated into business communications, entertainment, marketing, and journalism. It comes hand-in-hand with various artistic content formats like photography, animation, and video production.
If utilized properly, storytelling can offer more meaningful experience to the consumer, thus shaping long-lasting relationships with the brand and the business per se.
But let’s look at what makes brand storytelling so powerful and effective and how you could successfully integrate it into your own online marketing strategy.
Key Brand Storytelling Elements
The main thing about brand storytelling is that it helps companies make their brand more human. By revealing the company’s values, culture, and the causes it stands by, customers are able to sympathize and identify themselves with the brand.
Of course, in such cases touching upon an emotional trigger is essential to develop a solid brand storytelling strategy.
In order to grab your clients’ attention you’d better diversify your story narrative with various visual continent pieces like infographics, animations, illustrations, videos or interactive experiences. Such an integrative approach will make your story more engaging and appealing to the senses of your readers.
A recent study reveals that visual storytelling is considered very important by the majority of marketers interviewed. It also mentioned that about 64% of them make sure to publish at least 2 visual posts per week to address their followers’ increased demand for such content.
Shaping The Narrative
Brand’s story should be the centerpiece of a successful marketing strategy and it should excel at five key elements:
#1. Truth and Authenticity
In your communication with your target audience you should strive to be genuine and transparent. Don’t pretend to be or to offer something you don’t simply to catch up with a current trend. Allow your brand storytelling and voice to be consistent throughout time and passing fads.
Share the stories of your team, internal processes, culture, company growth, and, of course, the stories your customers tell about the experiences they had with your staff, products and/or services.
Those are the real stories that make a difference, the stories that trigger one’s attention, that evoke emotions and that will get your brand a step closer to your customers.
#2. A Promise Made Is a Promise Kept
Whatever you communicate in your storytelling campaign you should deliver. You should take your promises seriously and never disappoint your audience.
Creating an expectation should not be taken lightly, for you risk making your clients feel disillusioned with your brand or worse – put off by the inconsistency in what you promote and what you actually offer.
#3. Powerful Story
The story is where the magic happens. Your story could inspire, surprise, scare even, however in the end the audience should feel confident that it is your brand that they could trust in order to improve the quality of their life.
Powerful stories are able to trigger strong emotions. Strong emotions on the other hand are known to have a great impact on memory and on our decision-making processes. Your story can greatly influence customer’s predispositions towards your brand and could affect their purchase decisions.
#4. Emotional Impact and Value
Storytelling is all about a quest towards making your audience feel. It is about stimulating them to have a favorable long-lasting emotional response towards your brand via offering them interesting, engaging, unique, and high quality content.
Why is Brand Storytelling So Magnetic?
The main reason why brand storytelling can have such a great impact on audiences is the fact that it aims at making the customers relate to a given company’s values. Via storytelling businesses try to win the target customers over by revealing to them their history, mission, culture, and goals.
To amplify the impact of your brand’s storytelling approach, however, you need to recreate a real hero’s journey for your audience to follow.
It is the real people as well as the human aspect of your brand that drive actual customer engagement. No one is interested in hearing about impersonal achievements and plain business promos.
People long for being emotionally stimulated and that’s what your brand should deliver. Let your audience know you better by following the footsteps of a ‘hero’ and genuinely relating to their struggles.
A powerful brand story transcends the audience into a world of intense experiences where they are searching for answers to questions like ‘Who’s the hero?’, ‘Who is the villain?’, ‘What is the drama?’, ‘What challenges did they overcome?’
Offering valuable insight, sharing real-life stories, and closely revealing your main character’s struggles, are the three essential things that make up for a winning storytelling formula.
Good stories appeal to diverse groups of people and can be interpreted various ways. For instance, stories that admit about mistakes your company has made have the potential to build trust with your target audience.
People could start seeing you as more approachable, given that you openly discuss both good and bad aspects of the business.
On the other hand, stories takling your brand’s growth, hardships and wins could very well inspire your audience and make them relate to your brand.
Take for instance Alexandra Gater – a Canadian-based content creator who was laid off from her job as a home editor and took the opportunity to create her brand and skyrocket her career as an independent digital creator.
In her TED talk, she takes the viewers on a journey through her fears, hardships, and eventual success, explaining how the whole journey made her feel.
Gater’s story is similar to those of many but what makes it interesting is the genuine way she talks about how she felt throughout her journey.
Where to Start with Your Brand Storytelling Campaign
Although most brands have a story to tell, not many know how to do it in an effective and influential way.
If you wish to create a brand story that is genuine and unique, give an honest answer to the following questions:
#1. Who Are You?
There is a reason why your business exists. Give clear answers on how your company came to be. List your vision, mission, values, and culture. Follow up by introducing your team members, discussing their specific traits, hobbies, experience and career path.
#2. What Do You Do?
What kind of solutions do you provide to customers? Which are your products and services? How do you craft or offer them? Demonstrate the meticulous process of creating your solution, so audiences understand how much effort and dedication you invest in delivering to them the quality product and/or service you’ve promised in the first place.
Start listing the main aspects of your value proposition – what problems do you solve, what are the benefits of your product/service, what are your competitive advantages.
#3. Who Are Your Customers and How Do You Communicate with Them?
Define your target audience and outline the channel you’d use to reach out to them: to keep them informed and to actively listen to their feedback.
Do you use case studies? Do you document customer success stories? Those can be powerful tools in shaping your brand storytelling strategy.
#4. What Are Your Long-Term Goals?
Establish how you plan to further grow your product or service. What improvements are you looking to make? What is your vision for the future?
Having answered the questions from above you can deep dive into your creating your custom storytelling strategy,
How to Integrate Brand Storytelling in Your Online Marketing Campaigns
Keep it Simple
Complex twists are not the creative touches that will make your storytelling strategy a winning one. People get bombarded with tons of information online. Drafting too pretentious of a story could chase away your audience instead of converting them into loyal clients.
Keep things simple. Focus on a single problem, show how your solution perfectly addresses that problem, and show off a few success stories.
A three-part model where the problem is introduced at the beginning, followed up by the solution, and wrapping it up with a success story will make miracles for your brand story. It will pack all you need in a digestible and easy-to-follow narrative that doesn’t stray away from your main message.
Make it Personal
Brand storytelling is all about sharing your personal story of, let’s say, how you have created your business, or how your brand came into being. Let your staff and loyal customers tell their personal story of building or trusting your brand.
Grow with Social Media
Social media will help you reach potential customers faster than other marketing channels. Use quotes, anecdotes, gifs, and sneak-peek types of social media posts to draw attention to your stories.
Incorporate Data Into Your Brand Storytelling
Backing up your stories with valid data will make your message more trustworthy and worldwide.
Take Spotify for example – the audio streaming platform constantly gathers data about songs, playlists, and artists in its 30 million user base. They incorporate demographics and location data to create content for their Spotify Insights blog.
The platform regularly shares interesting facts about their listeners like how diverse the music they listen to is, what genres they prefer and where they are located. This approach helps them differentiate their content from their competitors and have a one-of-a-kind story that’s worth reading.
Urge Customers to Share Stories
Goal-oriented customers look for authenticity. They trust brands that show real people in their marketing campaigns. Offering your audience to get a glimpse of ordinary people’s experiences will make your brand more relatable and trustworthy.
Integrating real stories in your brand storytelling campaign will encourage consumers to share their own experiences, thus fueling your narrative with more valuable information and real-life examples.
Guinness excelled at this step when creating their “Made of More” campaign that aims at popularizing stories of exceptional real-life characters who enrich our world with their determination and inner strength.
In 1989, the Japanese women’s rugby team Liberty Fields RFC defied social conventions and represented their country at the Women’s World Cup regardless of the fact that they did not have a coach or a doctor. They were not professional players either, instead they were balancing their sports life with their actual careers and family choirs.
Gunness skillfully incorporated these women’s incredible story into their marketing campaign to invoke emotional responses in audiences and to raise awareness for the values they appreciate most: determination, integrity and passion for what they do.
Intriguing and persuasive marketing strategy doesn’t just come down to witty tweets and playful gifs on social media. It incorporates brand storytelling that connects with audiences through sharing core values, vision, and company culture.
Brand storytelling relies on the curious human nature to establish bonds and convey important messages. A successful brand story grabs people’s attention and prompts them to learn more about your brand.
Brand storytelling is about taking your audience on an exciting journey where, somewhere along the way they will feel they know your company rather well and they will gradually start relating to its values and culture.
Integrating brand storytelling in your marketing strategy will help you build brand awareness, customer engagement and loyalty. Help your target audience see your brand through your own eyes. Make your inspiration and motivation contagious and share it with your target customers.
About the Author!
Terry Tateossian is Founding Partner at Socialfix Media, a 15-year old agile and fearless digital agency based out of NJ, New York City, and San Francisco.