Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the explosion of social media, the opportunities to tell stories as part brand marketing initiatives have become a strategic priority. Marketers have been telling brand stories for years through advertising, in-person brand experiences, and more, but the art of writing those brand stories as effective pieces of online content is a challenge that few are trained to do.
Today, the strongest marketing team will have room for new roles like the data architect and the brand creative content director. While the former position focuses on all that big data has to offer, the latter focuses on increasing consumer emotional involvement in the brand through social media and content marketing stories as well as on weaving the brand storyline into offline brand experiences and marketing initiatives.
Stories matter in marketing because great stories create powerful connections between the audience, the characters within the stories and the storyteller. When you can develop an emotional connection between consumers and your brand, your brand’s power will grow exponentially. Brand storytelling requires creativity and an understanding of fiction writing fundamentals. It’s different from standard copywriting, because brand stories shouldn’t be self-promotional. Instead, you’re indirectly selling your brand when you’re telling brand stories.
Here are key factors, according to Forbes, to focus on as you begin to create stories for your brand:
Show Don’t Tell. The first thing fiction writers learn when they step into a writing class is the importance of showing the audience what is happening rather than telling them. Nonprofit organizations are great examples of showing rather than telling in brand stories. For example, rather than simply telling consumers there are people or animals in need, they show by using emotional and descriptive language. Remember the Sarah Mclachlan SPCA commercials? It’s impossible to listen to watch those ads without feeling something powerful.
Create Characters People Care About. Many brand stories feature brand mascots as the primary characters, but you don’t have to create brand characters like the Geico gecko or Flo from Progressive. You can use your audience’s buyer personas as characters to drive a deeper relationship with your brand. When your target audience can relate to your consumers, their emotional connection to your brand grows organically. For example, The Google Chrome ads use buyer personas as brand story characters – there is likely one ad that features a character you can relate to.
Understand the Complete Story Arc. Your brand stories shouldn’t be short stories. They should be part of a long-term story. So, create obstacles for your characters that your target audience can identify with, and motivate your audience to root for your characters as they get through obstacles. If you tell the complete story in one shot, you lose the opportunity to build a relationship with your audience. Dos Equis does a fantastic job in not only creating a great back story for its brand character but also in keeping its audience hanging.
Stay Consistent with Your Brand Promise. Confusion is the number one brand killer, so make sure your brand stories are always consistent with your brand promise. If your target audience doesn’t understand how your story relates to their perceptions of your brand and their expectations for it, they’ll turn away from your brand in search of another. Red Bull provides consistency in brand storytelling as the Red Bull brand image is one of adventure, extreme sports, and freedom. From its World of Red Bull commercial series to Felix Baumgartner’s 128,100 foot space jump, it elicits emotions in its audience through brand stories, drives emotional connections, and reinforces the relationship with its audience.