Storytelling is an ancient art that’s been molded by every type of medium imaginable, from film and novels to contemporary branding. The art of storytelling has received an unprecedented amount of attention due to its ability to personify a company and give its brand life. Every facet of communication, from word-of-mouth to social media, proves to bring new and exciting ways to tell your brand’s story. The question is how do you use it effectively?
Guido Everaert says that “Storytelling is not about language, it’s about telling and creating stories in a compelling way. It’s about finding the right metaphors, and above all the structure in which to tell a story. In doing so, the storyteller (re)creates a part of life and generates a story that is easily remembered and unique to that particular brand.”
Storytelling can be used as a marketing strategy by businesses and entities of all sizes because all it requires imagination and creativity, not money.
A multitude of businesses have popped up to help you to develop your brand story, including The Story of Telling and Brand Story Online, so makes it so you don’t even have to write the narrative yourself.
Writers can blog through Wordpress, visual brands can share via Instagram, and those with characters can create mini-series on Vimeo or use BrandStories, to gain attention by potential customers.
Seeing the sheer amount of tools there are to create and share your brand’s story, it would seem that the task at hand is pretty easy, right? The hard part of the equation a lot of companies miss is that you shouldn’t tell a story just for the sake of telling a story. It has to have purpose and meaning for your brand and also provide a valuable experience for your consumer.
Chip and Dan Heath outline in their book, Made to Stick:
Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, three types of stories that have the most resonate with consumers:
- The Challenge Plot (The story of the underdog, to defy all odds and come out on top)
- The Connection Plot:(A story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap, whether racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, etc.)
- The Creativity Plot:(A story that involves someone making a mental breakthrough, solving a problem that has plagued them or resolving an issue in a new way)
Keeping the Heath Brother’s research in mind, it would behoove your company to employ these plotlines to tell consumers who you are as a brand and what your products can do for them.
Whether it has to do with your company’s identity or a new campaign or product, you want that story to have sticking power in the consumers mind. It’s the same power that is the foundation towards building brand trust within your consumers.
The mission of businesses using storytelling as a marketing tool should be to help customers connect the stories they tell to the benefits of their product or brand. Telling stories that are not connected to your brand or unique offer will entertain, but won't offer value or sell your product.
When developing your story, think about how your product helps your customers. What problem does it solve? What benefits (not features) does it offer? What makes your solution different from the competitors’? And how might you weave that into a story?
The answers to these questions will guide you through the process of creating compelling content that allows you to make a strong value exchange between your business and your consumer. This exchange marries itself to brand trust and authority so that your business connects on a more emotional level with your consumer.
Storytelling and its results are more than just social science. Consumers are internally driven to seek emotional connections to the products and brands they use. Look to this infographic to see how storytelling changes the interaction your brand has with consumers neurologically.
Feel free to keep the conversation going and comment what your business’ experience with storytelling has taught you about new ways to connect with your consumers.