Who doesn’t love listening to stories? They say a lot about a person’s journey so far and his future goals. In fact, storytelling is an ancient art that has been used across various domains. It is the fundamental human activity that can be applied to brands as well. If used well, the art of storytelling can work wonders for promoting your brand since it leverages various viral factors such as social sharing, word-of-mouth, and social media in general. This brand perception lies at the very core of storytelling in content marketing.
However, if miscommunicated, storytelling can backfire. For example, many use storytelling solely as a “selling tool.” This is a wrong approach. Tell your brand’s story to build a strong and thriving relationship with your customers and loyalists. Use it as a foundation of content marketing strategy rather than to push your products/services. And if you can do this properly, sales too would follow in no time.
It is, therefore, important that brands understand and communicate exactly what they want to their audience, in order to gain their trust. Here are a few tips to get it right:
1. Tell Your Audience Why You Exist
Some brands just cannot get storytelling through content while it comes naturally to others. So what is it they are doing differently? They are simply grabbing their readers’ attention by telling the reasons of their existence through traditional narrative techniques.
Microsoft, is one brand that has been doing it right. It genuinely gets storytelling by sharing real life examples. The Garage by Jennifer Warnick, for example, tells the story of various technologists, engineers, and hobbyists who frequent this on-campus innovation lab of Microsoft. Despite being a character in Warnick’s story, The Garage tells the story of how people come here to solve their common problems, which is the basis of its existence.
2. Provide Historical Details
One of the best examples of brand storytelling perhaps comes from the “Man Who Walked Around the World.” The advert tells the history of Johnnie Walker whiskey beginning with the dramatic “Here’s a true story” that set new standards in brand storytelling. The scriptwriter Justin Moore at BBH successfully reduced 200 years history of Johnnie Walker into six minutes of monologue where actor Robert Carlisle narrates the story as he walks down the misty Scottish highlands, interacting with various carefully placed props that appear along the way.
Carlisle explain each prop, giving the historical details and the timeline. The advert was so well-made and engrossing that you will perhaps forget that you watching an advertisement; such is the power of storytelling.
The advert was so well received globally that “Keep Walking” became a unified theme across the world for a “call-to-action.”
3. Tell Your Audience about Your (Corporate) Mission
Stories should be personal, just like your corporate mission. In fact, it must reflect your mission. Why was your brand born? What inspired you? Why are you in business? What is it you are passionate about? What makes your products/services special? Why would people do business with your company?
It must be compelling and at the same time factual. Let’s consider the example of The Garage once again. While it tells its own story, its people are the main characters. The Garage only acts as a supporting character to help the people who frequent this platform solve their problems and create successful resolutions. Each story here actually reflects the mission of this on-campus innovation lab.
4. Establish Your Main Cast
Who are the main characters of your brand story? Every brand story must have main characters who shape the storytelling. It can be a fictional character, a book that inspired you, or the people you serve to and who make your business thrive. You can make any or all of them as your brand story’s cast of character.
Coca-Cola, for example, is one of the best storytelling brand. The brand successfully establishes their main characters in all of its stories, be it the “'Share A Coke” campaign or the more recent “A Bridge to Santa.”
5. Use the S-C-R (Situation, Complication, Resolution) Approach
According to Steven Spielberg, the master storyteller of our time, a story must have three elements–“a beginning, a middle and an end.” In corporate context, it is the S-C-R ((Situation, Complication, Resolution) framework that you need to follow. Your story must be both compelling and cohesive and at the same time it must bring out your brand’s unique value proposition.
Consider this Blendtec’s “Will it Blend?” video that generated more than 4.3 million views to under the significance of S-C-R structure in storytelling. It creates a current situation, describes the market complications and finally shares how Blendtec brand resolves the issue. This structure helped Blendtec brand not only to become a viral sensation but also increased its sales.
6. Use Empathy
A brand without a story fails to create an emotional connection with its target audience. In this age of technology, it is really a challenging job to connect emotionally with your target audience unless you can build empathy. Storytelling the key to it.
Make people feel what they want to feel through your story and they are more likely to be loyal to your brand. And the best way to do it is by putting them at the heart of your brand story. Share success stories and case studies, focusing on the needs of your customers and how your product/service helped them meet that need. This way you are demonstrating empathy towards your existing customers and potential buyers with similar needs. In turn, this helps you build a loyal audience in the long run.
A Final Thought – Stay True to Your Story
While storytelling is a powerful content marketing tool, you need to be authentic and stay true to your story. If you are to take anything from this article, it is this. The moment people realize that you are not being true in your stories and motives, you will lose all your credibility.
People understand how marketing works and they are more than ready to believe your stories and take a desired action as long as you are being honest to them. But a single incident of slyness or dishonesty can cost your brand more than you imagine. Remember that trust is the foundation of your brand storytelling and you should therefore never compromise it.