Brand Storytelling – Secret Tool to Empower Customers and Forward Company
Brand storytelling is a powerful marketing tool designed to take relationships with clients to the next level and benefit the company in multiple ways.
We love telling stories and listening to them. From the very earliest days of our lives, storytelling has occupied a special place in our hearts. It transforms us into a fantastic World where good triumphs over evil, dreams come true, and you can be anyone you want without feeling ashamed or scared.
This inner love and adoration of stories follow us our whole life, and leading brands are perfectly aware of that. Disney, Apple, Google, Ikea, and even Land Rover tap into this foundational human trait by centering their marketing messages and content strategies around emotional stories, which build an emotional connection with the target audience. This bond brings a range of substantial benefits.
In this article, we will look at the definition of a storytelling brand, consider several effective storytelling techniques shared by professional teams who stand behind best brand storytelling for startups, and get insights from five incredible real-life examples.
Brand Storytelling Definition
The brand stands on many postulates crucial for the company's successful development; and brand storytelling is one of them. However, it is always overlooked. That is a big mistake. Let us find out what brand storytelling is and why it is crucial never to lose sight of it.
What Is Brand Storytelling?
Brand storytelling is a marketing concept that reveals much more than facts about the company's inner world, operations, and products. It is a true story rich in feelings and emotions that seamlessly integrates the company into a consumer's life.
The marketers see this concept as intelligent and innovative advertising that emphasizes customer experience and shares the company's values and principles that, when done right, bring multiple benefits.
A brand story is not just a piece of writing or vibrant advertisement, though it surely can take these forms. It can be anything you want: flyer, landing page, Twitter message, digital newsletter, video advertising, "about us" section, regular events, and many more.
The Power of Great Brand Storytelling
According to recent studies by Search Engine Watch, clever storytelling can boost conversion rates of the company regardless of its niche, age, and scale by 30%. Headstream's surveys showed that people are more likely to buy the product if they love the brand's story. Twitter statistics unveil that 70% of consumers think brands should boost positivity by sharing positive and brand stories. Even the business-to-business niche holds b2b brand storytelling in high regard. This indicates that well-crafted brand storytelling is a powerful tool of massive importance for companies.
Why Is Brand Storytelling Important?
Brand storytelling is crucial for companies for many reasons. However, first and foremost, it emotionally connects companies with their target audience, forming a deep bond and creating strong relationships. The latter comes a long way in offering businesses numerous opportunities to thrive. Let us consider the benefits that a company gets when incorporating storytelling experience in their strategy and marketing and content campaigns.
Benefits of Brand Storytelling
Brand storytelling offers companies multiple benefits that translate into high conversion rates and revenue growth. Let us consider them. It:
- Can tell the brand's history through multiple distribution channels.
- Articulates values and helps the target audience align with the company.
- Humanizes the brand. Stories allow companies to peel back the curtain and invite the audience into the inner company's world and culture, bringing life and warmth to the communication.
- Personifies the brand. It gives the company unique traits, bridging the gap between clients and the company.
- Cultivates authentic relationships that easily separate the company from the crowd and give it a cutting-edge competitive advantage over others.
- Increases trust.
- Builds brand loyalty because people get emotionally attached to the company.
- Demonstrates care and consideration for people that triggers empathy.
- Grabs the audience's attention. People love listening to stories – it is our favorite form of recreation; therefore, brand storytelling naturally gets users’ attention and lures them in, giving food for thoughts and promising a great pastime.
- Channels the audience's attention and directs it towards the company. Every story amplifies concentration and makes users focus, eliminating all distractions.
- Provokes discussions and ensures that the word is spread, generating positive feedback.
- Emphasizes the qualities of products and company reinforcing brand identity and prolonging the organization's life.
- Leaves a favorable long-lasting impression.
- Generates excitement and invites people into your brand's unique world and culture, making it an essential part of the community.
- Is easily shareable. The story can be told in different forms through numerous distribution channels: social media platforms, email, video platforms, etc. This means you can reach not only your target audience where it hangs out but also extend your market.
- Gives total control of what your users think of you.
- Inspires the marketing team to develop advertising ideas and campaigns aligned with your primary goals and resonate with the target audience without blowing your budget.
- Entices talents and helps to build a highly productive pool of employees.
These benefits seem intangible, but they translate into real financial benefits. For instance, trust motivates people to try new products from the company; loyalty makes them stick to the company in the most drastic times; word-of-mouth drives engagement and generates new referrals that can be easily dragged into the sales funnel, and transparency in relationships increases customer's lifetime and value.
The Elements of Brand Storytelling
Stories come in different forms and mediums, from poetry and song to movement and pictures to plays and jokes. However, when it comes to creating authentic brand storytelling, they all have the same features and follow the same routine of constructing the plot. Below you will find five core elements of brand storytelling.
Let us start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. Indeed every story starts with the outset. According to Gustav Freytag's pyramid, it is the part where you set the exposition. In the brand identity universe, this means determining core features by answering these questions:
- Who are you?
- What are your assumptions?
- What is your history?
- What are your motivations?
- What is your brand’s purpose?
- What are the brand's offers?
- Why is it different from the others?
- Why the brand exists and functions in the particular market sector?
Answers to these questions provide you with the building blocks required to create your story. Stay true during this stage because being honest with yourself and your customers is crucial. Do not be afraid of your failures and setbacks. Authenticity is what helps your readers to relate to you.
Putting whomever, you are talking to at the center of the conversation is the first rule of becoming a great conversationalist. Brand storytelling is no exception. Knowing your audience is essential for developing successful marketing strategies and advertising campaigns; it is undoubtedly crucial for telling a story about the brand.
Therefore, always start with your customers and their interests, preferences, ambitions, needs, and expectations to make them a part of your brand and your brand a part of their lifestyle. Define what issues are your product and company trying to solve for them. Build a picture of your primary audience to know them better and understand how to quench their thirst, satisfy their cravings, and ensure they stay in line with your company's philosophy and mission.
Being universal, whatever beneficial it might seem at first sight, resonates with the audience less because every good story is about specific people and situations. Stories with particular details and situations are always better than ones that are watered down to the point of being useless.
Therefore, choose the specific situation and a person, and flood the story with details to wash away criticisms, sarcasm, and cynicism.
Every good story is a pack of emotions: sometimes, they are positive; other times, they are negative. However, whatever gamut you choose, it will still do one crucial thing – tag at your customers' heartstrings and build a strong connection with them. As American Press Institute puts it, good stories capture emotions. Who can argue with that?
From the marketing and branding perspectives, emotions are crucial because when played right, they bring numerous benefits, from building loyalty to turning consumers into brand evangelists to increasing revenue.
When telling brand storytelling, it is vital to understand what emotions to trigger to get the proper response from the audience. As we have noted, sometimes bad feelings are more beneficial because they are more powerful in causing empathy that translates into a commitment to the company. For instance, some companies zero in on one of their target customers' major pain points and make the most out of it.
However, as practice shows, professional marketers and brand agencies generally stick to positive emotions since they help achieve numerous goals without much sacrifice. For instance, companies enrich their stories with positive emotions like joy, happiness, relief, or contentment.
Can you imagine a story without heroes? I bet, no. Every story includes characters. They are essential elements because they are the ones who have problems that your brand will solve or will motivate the audience to make life-changing decisions to improve their lives.
When choosing the hero for your story, you can go two ways: you or your audience. If you center the story around yourself, you may resonate with the market by telling your backstory and strengths and open about your battles through life's problems to show how you have come out on top.
If you center your story around the audience, you employ heroes who will empower your audience and make them believe that they are making the right choice by choosing your brand and speaking the same language. In a word, this story is going to be about them.
There are no hard and fast rules on what to choose from these two possible scenarios. You may benefit from both of them at different stages during customer's and company's lifecycles. However, note you need to build your main character that is relatable to your audience. For instance, if you target millennials, choose a more formal and authoritative personage, whereas Gen Z will fall for a witty character who prefers humor and unconstrained communication.
Tried-and-True Story Formulas
Gifted writers may teach marketers a lot about creating an exceptional storytelling experience. They know how to stimulate readers' brain activity and make neurons power up to warp speed. After all, they have created masterpieces that are appreciated by numerous generations. Consider these five tried-and-true story formulas shared by them:
- Follow the standard narrative form described in Freytag's Plot Pyramid: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement.
- Introduce memorable characters with strong personalities and eye-catching features.
- Go for eccentricity and unusual behavior patterns.
- Maximize conflict.
- Do not be afraid of ending your story with a catastrophe. For example, finish it on a sad note or avoid a happy ending.
Brand Storytelling Guide
Creating a storytelling experience comes with multiple hindrances; however, if you know what to do, every obstacle becomes surmountable. Consider this small yet effective 12-step brand storytelling guide to get a head start.
Understand who you are and what you care about. Get answers to these questions: what you do and why it matters. On top of that, articulate your tagline, value prop, and brand messaging pillars.
Do thorough research in your niche. Examine your competitors to understand what stories resonate best with the audience and what stories should be eliminated due to lack of proper response. Plus, this analysis hints on how not to repeat to create a unique story that everyone is up to.
Collect as much information about your target audience as possible. Inspect features and qualities of an ideal customer.
Map out the buyer's journey. This helps determine the types of messaging people need to hear at each stage.
Define the stage for your particular segment and set the goal by correlating it with your brand's core principles, such as vision, mission, purpose, and values.
Brainstorm various ideas around your brand's specific aspects. Create a list of story ideas that are extensions of your brand story to comb through. You can also focus on how you plan to grow into the future.
Settle down on options that relate to what you do and, at the same time, might interest the people you're trying to reach. Figure out what drives your pursuit of a given story and what information you need to convey. Define the unique angle of your future brand's story, what value the story should provide to your personas, and the main reason why do you want to tell this story.
Pick the format. As we have noted, storytelling comes in all shapes and sizes: animations, articles, case studies, infographics, Instagram stories, YouTube videos, microcontent, and many more. Each one comes with its cons and pros. Therefore, choosing the format that meets your goal and the target audience's preferences and expectations is crucial.
Construct a compelling narrative by taking your readers on a journey. You may go for several popular ways if you are short of ideas: problem/solution, before/after, and personal stories.
Incorporate brand identity elements unobtrusively. Use visual language by including logotype, mascot, illustrations, icons, graphics inherent to your visual presentation, typography, and even color scheme. Construct a story with your company's personality, voice, and tone.
Look for ways to share it with the target audience. Ask yourself where your customer would find suitable for discovering your brand story? It could be anything: blog, landing page, magazine, digital inbox, social media, conference, charity, local event, and even party.
Never stop telling stories and improving the storytelling experience for your market. Remember, it is an ongoing process. Track your progress and metrics to determine what works best for your audience.
Last but not least, take inspiration from these Pixar's rules for storytelling tweeted by Emma Coates, Pixar's Story Artist:
- Keep in mind what is interesting to you as an audience.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours.
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle.
- Putting it on paper.
- Get obvious out of the way.
- Give your characters opinions and positions.
- What would make YOU act that way?
- Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- Finish your story, and let go, even if it is not perfect.
Best Practices to Create Effective Brand Storytelling Experience
Here are some tips, practices, and techniques to create a fantastic brand storytelling experience shared by professionals.
- Get ready to put enormous efforts, time, and hard work regardless of the scale of the project.
- Use professional brand storytelling tools.
- Make it appealing by including motivations, impulses, emotions, and desires.
- Do not neglect the power of humans in the story. Show your staff or make them heroes of the story.
- Do not focus solely on product features when telling a story. Unveil the company's personality, characteristic traits, charisma, and culture.
- Include some blanket statements about creative teams and your unique work culture.
- Do not be afraid to convey your challenges through real stories.
- Demonstrate how clients and their experiences have influenced and shaped the company.
- Be grateful.
- Translate your philosophy to a story and messaging that communicates benefits to customers.
- Create stories from visuals because people respond to and process visual data better than any other type of data.
- Create personalized content to build a personal relationship with every client.
- Blend brand stories with consumers' life stories.
- Take customers behind the scenes.
- Show your commitment to creating the perfect product and comfortable environment for clients.
- Connect customers by your story wrapped in the company's message and value.
- Make brand storytelling consistent.
- Make events and things happen in the story for a good reason.
- Hone and perfect your story by cutting, pasting, and deleting material. Note all good stories involve sacrifices.
- Ensure your content is branded.
- Provide visibility into your product and company's operations.
- Identify gaps in your existing brand storytelling.
- Optimize content marketing for SEO.
- Maximize brand storytelling on social media. Note that your target audience expects it from you.
- Consider bringing in a brand storytelling agency. Not only will they navigate you through this process, but most importantly, they can offer a fresh perspective on the concept, inspiring your team to create something incredible and memorable.
Storytelling Brand Examples
There are thousands of brand storytellers out there. Let us consider the top five storytelling examples that have become a part of our everyday life.
We will start our collection with Google, which I bet no one can imagine life without. It is the most popular search engine in the world, with 4.3 billion users worldwide and a market share of 92.24%. The company has told us many stories during its lifetime. Just remember Santa Tracker on Christmas Eve or multiple doodles. However, the most notable one is, of course, "Year in Review." It retrospectively highlights crucial moments from the past year. It shows users asking "why?" in unprecedented numbers as the company attempts to find meaning behind different global events. This campaign is like a brand storytelling book that unveils everything our world has been through using a search engine system. This annual time capsule has been around for over two decades and has brought numerous benefits to the company. It has extended market shares, retained the old clients, generated engagement, and caused empathy by showing the company putting the humans behind the numbers. Plus, Google remains closely bonded with its audiences, proving each year that it is a crucial part of their life.
Spotify is one of the biggest audio streaming and media services providers worldwide that has been around for almost two decades. Like Google, it also likes telling stories that inspire and engage people. After all, it is the king in the entertaining musical niche, not for nothing.
The company's "Spotify Wrapped" is one of the most notable examples of data-driven storytelling experiences that at some point remind Google's iconic "Year in Review." It is a roundup of personal music highlights created automatically that reflects the mood and desires of the person, which defined and shaped the previous year. Unlike Google, it summarizes a customer's streaming history, including artists, tracks, albums, genres, stream date, and even data points like 'loudness,' 'energy,' and 'danceability.'
This hyper-personalized campaign takes relationships with customers to a new level. It has become an annual Christmas tradition that marks the change of years, inspires personal reflections, and motivates new beginnings. This nurtures loyal clients, attracts new customers, and strengthens Spotify's entire brand story.
Airbnb provides us with a unique example of brand storytelling. Why? Because it is atypical for a marketplace that plays an intermediary role to do this. The deal is that Airbnb does not have many stories to tell about its product. After all, it is just an online database with a standard interface, primary navigation, multiple filters, and a booking system – pretty boring. However, the company still has found ways to bring brand storytelling concepts to life. How have they done that? Simple, they have used their blog to the most extent by creating a series of inside looks at the lives of their hosts across the world, connecting people even closer together and increasing their trust in the product and company itself. Plus, on their YouTube channel, they demonstrate what Airbnb is like in different countries, allowing users to learn from super hosts and get helpful guest tips. This unique brand storytelling strategy has benefited the company greatly: it has skyrocketed its user base, built enormous trust in the product, generated engagement, and increased revenue.
Nike is famous for telling stories to people. Actually, the last two decades are marked by inspiring stories featuring famous athletes who have shared their experiences with others through Nike's campaigns. The most iconic is "Just Do It," first featured in 1999 and designed to commemorate the career of Michael Jordan. It took the world by storm and made an emotional connection between the fans and the athlete, propelling the company to new heights and setting precedents for similar projects. As a result, we have been experiencing such sort of Nike's storytelling campaigns ever since. The company constantly shares engaging videos and photo ads so its consumers can learn from them. They have also launched a series called "Best Day Ever" and regularly fill their blog with "stories that move you" and tips and guides shared by other people. This strategy has paid back generously. The company has become synonymous with the sports niche. It has a strong connection with people worldwide, growing its fan base daily.
McDonald’s has a one-of-a-kind brand storytelling campaign because, unlike the majority of businesses out there, it has managed to bring a fictional hero to life and make it an indispensable element of its brand's presence.
Every child who has been in this famous fast-food restaurant chain at least once knows who Ronald McDonald is. He inhabits the fictional World of McDonaldland with his friends. According to Wikipedia, it is second only to Santa Claus regarding recognition. Over 300 full-time clowns appear in restaurants, visit children in hospitals and attend regular public events.
That is not all. McDonald’s regularly ask their clients to share their stories that they present as a sort of book. On top of that, they constantly commit to the community by running charity campaigns that, as a rule, are presented as storytelling experiences in their restaurants and numerous multimedia distribution channels. With their stories, McDonald’s makes a real difference in people's lives. It inspires people to overcome problems, identifies and rewards the most talented staff, builds loyalty, increases the company's recognition, drives engagement, and maintains its stability regardless of market fluctuations.
Do you know that according to recent studies, the proper brand storytelling can increase a company's profit by 20 times, prolong the life of its product and give a cutting-edge advantage in competition regardless of age, scale, and niche? Yes, the brand narrative is that powerful. Actually, business exists until it has a story to tell. Therefore, it is crucial to introduce its concept in the company's development cycle, including all sorts of marketing and advertising strategies.
Creating a powerful story about the product or company is much like writing narratives or academic essays – hard. However, it is not so difficult to do with a thorough understanding of its basics, proper segmentation, good tools for creating visual storytelling for brands, and total commitment and devotion to the cause.
Adopt the best practices shared by professional marketers and branding agencies, get insights from real examples provided by goliaths of the industry and follow our 12-step guide to forward your company and relationships with customers through a marvelous brand storytelling experience.
Updated: May 30, 2023