While brand storytelling is definitely not a new concept when it comes to advertising, it has taken on very different forms for marketers with the explosion and importance of online content marketing and social media.
And while marketing gurus of old were very well versed in fiction writing and storytelling, as it was a part of the job, today’s crop of marketing professionals aren’t necessarily coming from the same background. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t write a great brand story if you aren’t coming from a similar background. It just means that you need to learn how to adapt.
Here are five tips that will help you to engage consumers and connect them to your brand emotionally by integrating brand storytelling with modern content marketing practices.
Tell the Truth
There’s probably nothing more important when it comes to good brand storytelling than being completely honest with your audience and keeping your message consistent. The greatest potential killer of any brand storytelling strategy is confusing your audience.
That is why your brand storytelling needs to be transparent. It should also be able to realistically tell the story of your brand and your products or services. This certainly does not mean that you need to hold back the creativity.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ways in which you tell your story, just be sure that your core message and values are always being represented consistently. If there’s anything that consumers negatively respond to, it’s mixed messages and confusion.
Create Likeable Characters
Creating characters to tell your brand’s story does not necessarily mean that you need to invent some type of mascot. While that approach does work for many brands, it isn’t the most effective method for most.
Your characters don’t have to be inherently fictional, they can be – and probably should be – very much rooted in reality. For example, you can tell stories from the point of view of one of your employees. Or you can develop a customer personality and tell his or her story. Talk about their pain points or their desires and then show how your company is tending to them.
Characters are important because your audience needs something or someone to connect to. Having characters allows you to create story arcs that will engage your audience – narratives that they will want to continue to follow through time.
Define Your Intentions
A lot of marketers make the mistake of talking about how great their products are without ever giving a story about the product’s origins. What made you want to create this product or service? What sparked your mission?
This is one of the most important brand stories that you can possibly tell. Let your audience know what made you want to create your great products. The story should show consumers what problem you recognized that needed to be fixed, and how your product helps fix it.
And most importantly, focus on emotions, not on actions. For example, here at ShiftPlanning, we are creating employee scheduling software. Not just to help you schedule your team, but to help you focus on what you love to do while letting us handle all of the tedium that comes with running a business.
We want to help you to love what you do and focus on the aspects of your that are most important to you. That’s our brand story, that’s the origin of our product. What’s yours?
It’s not enough to trust your intuition, you need to support your decisions with real data. Initial research should be able to give you a good idea of where your story needs to start, but the reactions of your audience will decide where your story needs to go.
Find out what engages your audience and adjust your brand storytelling to cover those topics. It’s a good idea to follow social media very closely and search keywords and hashtags that are related to what you do. This way, you’ll be able to really understand what your audience loves to talk about and then develop a plan that will help you to join that conversation.
Monitor reactions to your content in order to better understand the direction you need to go so that you will be able to engage your audience and interact with them.
Evolve the Story
As we’ve touched upon earlier, where your brand’s story is going is more important than where it began. A successful brand story is one that has legs. And in order to achieve this longevity in your storytelling, you need to continue your story and iterate.
Never stop sharing success stories and real-life applications of your products and services that are helping real people solve real problems. Show your audience how your product is constantly evolving and how you and your team are changing your product or service based on customer feedback and requests.
It’s not enough to say that your product is new and improved, explain the reasoning behind these new features and why people should care about them.
Even though it has the appearance of a fairly daunting mission, telling a good brand story does not have to be that difficult.
The best way to keep your story moving along effectively without repeating itself and becoming predictable is to make sure you are focusing on the people who are affected by the product or service and not on the product or service itself.