One of the fundamental reasons why humans have existed over the span of multiple millenniums is thanks to our ability to tell stories. While the means of doing so is continually evolving, the core concept of piecing together a sequence of events in a compelling narrative always remains.
From the visual stories of cave paintings in 30,000 BC and the Ancient Greek myths and legends of 1000BC, to the written development of fairy-tales in the 17th century, the first photograph in 1826, and the creation of social media platforms in the 21st century, storytelling is the thread that binds each generation, and carries the human spirit and culture forwards.
While we may no longer need to share vital knowledge with our villagers on the best place to hunt, how to avoid predators, or what best to eat to avoid sickness, storytelling is still intrinsic to survival – both for us as people, and for our businesses. As with life, storytelling is intrinsic to powerful marketing.
It is how we learn about a business, how we understand their journey and products or services, and how we find empathy or connection with them that makes us want to build a relationship and buy. The marketing term for this is ‘brand storytelling’ and simply means creating a connection with your customers through weaving together the facts and emotions of your brand into a compelling narrative.
Brand storytelling is built into both the visual and written identity of your business – from the imagery and colours used in your branding, and how they speak to our psychological understanding, to the words splashed across a website, in a brochure, and on social media. It is all about building a strong and compelling ‘plot’ for your business that the customer can understand, identify with, relate to, and remember.
It’s about showing consistently and clearly who you are, what makes you brilliant or different, how you can help, why people should pick you, and then reinforcing this messaging at all times with honesty and integrity to ensure the story is crystal clear in people’s minds.
Whether it’s an exciting and thrilling topic, or something dry and difficult to talk about, B2B marketing or B2C marketing, it is important to always consider both the rational and technical relevancy of what you are saying in your brand storytelling.
However, most importantly, you should consider the emotional engagement and what part of your story makes you different to everyone else so people can connect with you in a unique way. Just think of your favourite novels and why certain ones have you hanging off the edge of your seat, and others don’t. You need to be the type of book that you don’t want to put down, and that always has you hanging on for more.
Social media influencers succeed in this way because they invite us into the story of their lives. We watch their daily lives like we would a reality show – and indulge in their world like we would a great film or book. It takes us into a world far away from our own reality – a form of escapism and imaginative role play. We buy into what they eat, wear, buy or how they decorate their house because we want to have a slice of their story.
Brands similarly have us hooked for their next advert, their latest product, or their new campaign for this very same reason. Think about all the Christmas adverts from leading brands such as John Lewis and Sainsburys. They are the epitome of brand storytelling – they talk to the very heart of their customers to provoke emotional reactions based on soldiers kicking footballs around a warzone and dogs jumping on trampolines, and in turn, inspiring millions of sales in their stores.
What makes a good brand story?
- It should be meaningful – people need to care about what you are saying, and therefore it should be both interesting and relevant.
- It should feel personal – there needs to be some level of connection with the audience, tapping into their own motivators, needs, desires, fears and understanding.
- It should connect emotionally – the best brand stories ‘affect’ their audience in some way, whether that’s making their life easier or more stress-free. Is it more time with their children? The ability to connect with grandparents from far away? A product that will make their work easier and therefore help them develop professionally?
- It needs to be simple – the worst mistake is to overcomplicate your brand. Don’t bombard your audience or scare them off. Just keep it simple, to the point, and consistent each and every time with a clear focus.
- Authenticity is crucial – Your audience can see through stories that are not genuine or that are geared towards purely driving sales. You need to ‘own’ your brand story and be truthful and honest in every part of it. Anything that deviates from this will reduce trust and credibility in your brand, affecting the power of your brand storytelling.
Want to learn more about developing your brand story? As content strategists, we’re experts in compelling, imaginative and creative brand storytelling. Send us an e-mail today [email protected] or call on 01206 912914 to discuss with one of our team.