There aren’t many people out there who can hear the words “Once upon a time” and remain untouched. There is just something about the promise of a good story that stirs the soul in ways nothing else can. To put it simply: to be human is to crave stories. Information bombardment without purpose or point bounces off of us without impact, except perhaps to cause irritation – if you want the content you’re advertising to stick, you have to present it as a story worth connecting to. Welcome to the new frontier referred to as branded storytelling – who says the art has to belong to fiction alone?
Loosely defined as using narrative techniques to define brands, branded storytelling puts actual heart into advertising. A surefire way to engage your audience – once your brand has been reintroduced as a story, your content becomes not a temporary distraction, but a memorable message. Ian Rowden, the Chief Marketing Officer of the Virgin Group, summed it up quite neatly: “The best brands are built on great stories.” Simple as that.
Humanity has celebrated storytelling since the days when TV was non-existent, books weren’t a thing, and the only entertainment was to sit around fires in caves and share stories aloud, passed from generation to generation via word-of-mouth only. Sure, storytelling has certainly evolved since then, but its meaning and its value remain unchanged, so why resist a tried-and-tested phenomenon – one of the world’s most trustworthy truths that has endured for centuries? When you consider your brand, you must also consider the story you want your content to tell. Here are some of the best places to start:
Knowing where your brand comes from
This information is key. What’s your prologue? Your preface? Your backstory, your first chapter? What inspired your brand as you know it – what was the idea behind it? Before you compose any content, you need to know the answers to these questions. You need to evaluate your core values, your brand’s biggest influence, and most important: your brand’s purpose. This is your chance to set the scene, lay the foundation, and alert your audience to the setting, tone, and atmosphere of your brand – what’s the first impression you want potential buyers to develop? Pairing your content with a story will answer all of these questions and more – it will give your content life. Which, in turn, will immediately inspire attention from potential investors and clients.
This is the moment your content becomes noteworthy, because you’re no longer in the market for boring-blah-blah-is-this-over-yet advertising. Instead, kick off that inciting incident by aiming to establish an emotional connection with your audience that is so compelling they’ll be unable to simply dismiss it – the most important result any content marketer can hope to achieve. What guarantees this? Branded storytelling, of course, because a great story – when delivered right – never fails to captivate an audience. An emotional connection immediately lifts flat, bland content out of the slush pile and turns it into a living, breathing, heartfelt force – something only weaving your brand into a relatable story is capable of accomplishing.
Understanding your audience
Who’s your target? Who are you writing for, designing for, filming for, talking to? A story isn’t a story without a reader or an audience, if there’s no one around who cares enough to listen or watch it unfold. Just as content isn’t successful if it has no clients to market to. Before you delve any deeper into your brand’s story, you need to determine your audience via plenty of research and study. If you know your audience inside and out and know the message you want them to pull from your content, designing a story to suit that purpose will do all the work for you, easily transcending that distance between marketer and client. Once you know not only how to reach out to them, but how to capture their attention, and keep it – you will be well on your way to establishing a successful marketing campaign, which won’t just be tolerated, but actually cared about.
It’s common knowledge that every story out there eventually culminates in a climax that needs to be resolved – likewise, your content should also contain a conflict in need of a denouement. Because, once the problem has been introduced in an interesting way, and the audience has been hooked, all that is left is to present your ready-made solution. Which is the ultimate purpose of marketing, isn’t it? Otherwise, the story – and your brand – goes nowhere. Know the problem your brand seeks to address. This is as important as knowing the solution, because all stories have to have a conflict, otherwise who cares about the outcome? Conflict inspires an emotional connection, which in turn promises a following – and, therefore, results. Knowing the problem teaches you about your audience – those who share and relate to the problem – and by establishing it in an essential narrative, you guarantee an impact when the solution is presented. Branded storytelling will accomplish all of this in one fell swoop – detailing the problem, while also ensuring that your audience will care about its resolution – which just so happens to be your product or service, delivered to them gift-wrapped in emotional, humanised perfection.
When your carefully crafted story comes to a close, officially introducing your content to the world – the purpose, mission statement, and core values of your brand should be apparent; not via direct statement – nobody will remember that way – but through the emotions your brand’s story inspired. Never underestimate the strength of a story – applying it to your brand does not diminish it, but becomes it. Just as all authors want to make sure their story is worth telling, so should marketers assert that their content is worth supporting – shaping your brand into a story will achieve this every time.
Perhaps it can be said that branded storytelling is reinventing the marketing world as we know it – but is it? Perhaps, considering the evidence, it is more accurate to say branded storytelling is what invented it in the first place.
Looking to turn your own brand into a story worth telling? Look no further! Contact us here for a FREE consultation today.