Brand storytelling is gaining in popularity with companies as they try to connect with their customers in addition to their standard marketing or advertising formats.
In its simplistic form it's not different as to how we connect on a personal level. We meet somebody. We engage in conversation and along the way we ask about their story. We are looking for similarities to us. Is there a connection? Do we have similar goals, aspirations and values.
If we feel the person is on the same level to us, we share our 'brand' story with the possibility of strengthening that relationship.
What Is Brand Storytelling?
"Combining good storytelling ingredients along with narrative thinking to define a brand through creative marketing strategies" - Jamie Buttigieg, Story Brand Guide
Done correctly brand storytelling will engage more customers, elicit strong emotions of connection and create iron clad loyalty far beyond a company's product or service.
What Are The Key Ingredients in Brand Storytelling?
- Who you are
- What you do
- How will you solve a customer's problem
- How you'll add value
all done in a visual and emotional way so as to tug at the heart strings of a customer. While this seems manipulative, it's not. Customers can smell a sales pitch a mile away. Brand storytelling needs to demonstrate an authentic story of a company.
Is Brand Storytelling Working?
As consumers change in the way they want to receive information, so do companies need to change in how they deliver. We are more mobile device driven now than ever before. We shun traditional advertising (newspaper advertising is in decline) and we can get answers to just about anything at he click of our fingers (or tapping on our mobile phones).
Consumers are demanding entertaining messages that engage them and they need to be high quality.
This is not a domain for the 'big boys' only though. Small, niche groups are being sort out by consumers seeking information that they are not getting from the traditional networks. Brand storytelling is on the climb upwards!
Brand Storytelling Via Social Media
Social media continues to be a great place for brands to engage with customers. But with the changing algorithms on most platforms, brand storytelling needs to move so as to create a more engaging experience.
The Sunshine Coast Daily, an Australian regional newspaper based in Queensland 'trialled' storytelling. While most newspaper readership is in decline, this newspaper created a user- generated content model allowing readers to upload their content to the paper's social media sites which in turn could be shared to other platforms. The result was that the Sunshine Coast Daily created a brand storytelling model with its own customers and saw its readership go up by 25%.
This interactive brand storytelling also was hugely successful for American Express and Taylor Swift. Known as The Taylor Swift Experience consumers had the opportunity to choose a journey inside of one of Taylor's music tracks -exploring rooms within a house. This campaign was a huge success for American Express capturing new ground in a younger demographic.
Brand Storytelling Examples
Here are a couple of the best brand storytelling examples.
The US real estate giant uses the data on over 110 million homes to create interesting brand storytelling posts to target audiences it's trying to reach. In 2016 Zillow ran a campaign on the '20 Best Cities To Trick Or Treat'. The post was so successful, that Forbes Magazine jumped on board with a similar post. Both companies repeated the experiment in 2017.
Storytelling is at the forefront of this brand. Their messaging taps into the desires of holiday makers and how they can feel local experiences.
In creating a new campaign, CEO Brian Chesky while reading Walt Disney's biography, discovered a technique invented by Disney and his animators to create Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The technique was called story boarding, creating comic-book-like outline of the story to allow all of the film's collaborators understand the shape the vision of the film's narrative.
This was an 'a ha' moment for Chesky who immediately adopted this brand storytelling model for the next phase of the company. To keep it real in context with Disney, Chesky hired Pixar animator Nick Sung to produce drawings for three stories including the guest process, the host process and the hiring process. The process was not only well received by the public but also onboarded Airbnb staff into the company's mission.
Using animated video in their New Year's Eve 2015 campaign, Airbnb reported that 550,000 travellers had used one of their rentals during this period; up from 2,000 five years earlier . Boom! Chesky was onto a winner!
Brand storytelling is being adopted by more companies to create experiences with their customers and connect long term. To be effective the storytelling needs have these key components:
- Content that has a human element
- Connection through sincerity and empathy
- A good understanding of why your customers like you
- Is the content something you would read or watch
- The story needs a hero and characters that have unfulfilled desires
- Be memorable but simple.
Think about how your products or services serve your customers. Create content around how your company solves their issues using emotional triggers to connect them to you. Make your content memorable but easily describable.