From ancient oral histories to blogs, vlogs and social media, storytelling has long served as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and a way of conveying moral values. It has defined us and united us. Using the power of storytelling, brand managers forge an emotional connection between sales prospects and a company’s products or services.
Brand Storytelling 101
|“Once upon a time, small gatherings of people sat around fires listening to the storyteller’s tales of magic and fantasy. Now potentially the entire world gathers at multiplexes or watches smartphones, TVs, tablets and so on.”
~ Brand Psychologist Jonathan Gabay
Call me Ishmael. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Snap, Crackle, Pop! Whether they come from Melville, Dickens, Rice Krispies or your very own keyboard, it’s a time-tested truth that well-written stories are impactful, emotional and inspiring. Storytelling creates a human connection that drives curiosity … as well as sales and customer loyalty.
Your brand story involves telling the story of a product or service, sure. But it’s also an experience. And sometimes a really popular brand story evolves into an entire sub-culture. (Think of the loyalty of Apple users.) Truth is, a good brand story is immersive enough to coax a prospective consumer to step into that experience, whatever their motivation.
Nike is a shoe company. But their brand recognition is tied to more: it’s tied to aspiration and to excelling. Not just at sports … but at life.
From its inception, AirBnB knew that their customer base of enthusiastic and passionate users would generate the most effective brand ambassador testimonies. So their brand story developed from that. Today, a key aspect of their digital marketing strategy involves utilizing human interest stories of hosts and guests from around the world.
Apple has created a culture around its brand. Like many a successful and recognizable brand, it did so by following what leadership management expert Simon Sinek calls the “Golden Circle Strategy.”
Why — Your core purpose, core belief. Why you exist and why anyone should care.
How — The way your company fulfills its core belief.
What — What your company does to fulfill its core belief.
While it may seem logical to start with what you offer, it’s the “why” that hooks the audience, that pulls them in, that elicits the emotional response you’re looking for. So, how do you get there?
Identify Your Core Values
What is it that your company stands for — absolutely and unwaveringly? Over time, ads can change, but core values should not. They humanize your brand and ignite a conversation with your audience.
Know Your Audience
When you’ve crystallized an understanding of your company’s core beliefs, then you know your audience. Instead of using “we” or “I” or “us,” you make that individual the hero of your brand story … make your target audience the Hero. According to Forbes, using customer personas, you can identify what sales prospects like, their quirks, what keeps them up at night, and what lights them up. The idea is to uncover a tension — that is, a psychological itch that this audience needs to scratch — and then resolve that tension through the telling of a story.
Is your audience overwhelmed? Struggling? Do they have one defining goal? Know who they are and what they need. Address that tension through your brand stories and you’ll have a better shot at making a real connection with your target audience.
According to the Stern Strategy Group, it’s vital to always keep in mind that humans are emotional beings. We make decisions based on emotion. Stern says, “Our emotional brains are perceptive, unlike our thinking processes, which can be slow to get the point.” Without an emotional connection, no one will care.
Execution of that emotional connection can be tricky. But you have so many avenues and options. Awe-inspiring, bold and original imagery. An unusual or shocking hook to pull them in. The creation of wonder or the presentation of something unusual. Whatever best conveys your core values, use it and use it prodigiously.
Still struggling with your why? The Why Institute has centered their purpose around helping you find your why because its their belief that “why” is everyone’s core motivation. They even offer a quiz (plus courses and speakers) to help business professionals define their “why.”
Storytelling as a Marketing Power Tool
For today’s marketers, the power of storytelling must not be overlooked. When done correctly with strategic planning — i.e., knowing who your target audience is, where they are, and what stories they want (and need) to hear — storytelling can absolutely improve engagement with your content and brand.
Need a hand telling your brand’s story? At EXHIB-IT!, great storytelling is at the heart of everything we do! Contact us today and let us help bring your brand story to life.