Why should you use storytelling to construct brand stories and campaigns?
A study published in the Journal of Brand Management suggests that people who have been exposed to interesting brand stories talk more about the brands and behave much livelier when making associations.
“A story can embrace the core values of a brand in ways that traditional marketing communication cannot. Hence, storytelling deserves a more prominent place in the brand management literature.” the study noted.
What is a brand story?
A brand story is a series of events that trace your company’s inception to where you are today.
Your brand story is your foundation and strategy for future growth. It is beyond the functionality of your products and services.
It reaches your audience to a personal level and helps you build a meaningful bond. Your brand story tells the world about:
- What you do
- How well you do it
- What you stand for
A perfectly-executed brand story communicates your essence, develops your brand identity, and shapes perceptions about your brand.
Explore solid techniques on how to tell your brand story and create impactful marketing campaigns. Check out this guide.
Your brand story should have a well-crafted structure
Writing a brand narrative is similar to crafting a script for a film.
You have to build a structure around your idea.
The structure should have a beginning, middle, and end, with events unfolding chronologically.
It should have a plot or a pattern of events that are central to the story.
Your story must answer questions like: who, what, why, where, when, how, and with the help of what.
Here is a good brand story example:
In 2014, Thai Life Insurance launched video ads that went viral around the world. The three-minute videos brilliantly introduced the company and its values through powerful stories involving ordinary Thai people.
One video, “Unsung Hero” began with clips of a man going about his daily routine like helping a food vendor push her cart, leaving bananas at the door of an elderly woman, and sharing his little money with beggars.
The next shots showed how his simple acts of kindness changed the lives of people in his neighbourhood.
The video then ends by throwing a question to viewers, “And in your life, what is it that you desire most?”
Without listing down its brand values, Thai Life Insurance eloquently delivered its guiding principles though well-structured stories.
Your brand story should be relevant and relatable
According to Mossberg and Nissen Johansen (Storytelling: Marknadsföring i upplevelseindustrin, 2006), brand stories should feature characters the audience are able to relate to.
Your goal is to bring your brand close to your audience’s hearts.
This is why one of the foundations of digital marketing is the creation of relevant and useful content.
Consumers prefer to connect with brands that know their pain points, motivations, and desires.
How to build a strong brand? Be relatable.
Beauty brand Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign aims to reach out to its diverse audience, who are mostly women of different nationalities, races, socio-economic status, etc.
Instead of hiring commercial models, Dove has been running campaigns featuring real people with relatable pain points.
The brand challenges the norm in beauty Advertising while creating a special connection with its audience.
One of the most famous Dove campaigns was Real Beauty Sketches which featured a forensic artist who sketched people without seeing them.
The artist used descriptions from the person’s own perspective and from a stranger’s observations.
The difference between the two artworks was striking. Dove’s brand message was clearly delivered, “You’re more beautiful than you think.”
Your brand story should convey only one message
In the book Storytelling: Branding in Practice, the authors taught that each story should convey only one single message that is clearly focused.
This will help ensure that you direct the audience’s attention to your message.
Diaper brand Huggies found a way to break into the Canadian market, which was dominated by Pampers.
It used the findings from more than 600 studies that hugs “help stabilize babies vital signs, build immune systems, ward off illness, and improve brain development.”
Its brand story and campaigns centred on the benefits of skin-to-skin contact of the mother and her child. It focused its stories on one message: hugs are good for babies.
Your brand story should stir the right emotions
People seek experiences appealing to their emotions and dreams, and stories help craft these experiences.
People with whom you connected on the emotional level will remember you well.
Mossberg and Nissen Johansen noted that stories may be stored in memory factually, visually, and emotionally.
Stirring the right emotions from your audience can help you inspire action. Moreover, 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with whom they have an emotional connection.
Your brand story does not need to be tearjerkers like those produced by Thai Life Insurance.
You may stimulate warm feelings such as what Nescafe did.
The Philippine arm of coffee brand Nescafe published videos on social networks featuring common people who shared about their struggles in life.
One video for the campaign “Para Kanino Ka Bumabangon” (Who Do You Rise Up For), was about a security guard who juggled his work while caring for his family and earning his college degree to be a teacher.
Through hard work and resilience, he was able to finish college with flying colours.
He rises up each morning for his family and his dreams, with his choice of morning drink to fuel him up.
Your brand story should create positive associations to your brand
Brand stories may be used as a value-adding asset that increases customer brand equity.
Brand equity is “a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name, and symbol, that add or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers,” according to D.A. Aaker in Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name.
Do you want your brand to be known for your commitment to excellence? You can echo that through a brand story.
Apparel brand Nike has been creating compelling brand stories since the 90s. It tells the amazing stories of the world’s greatest athletes from Michael Jordan to Rory McIlroy.
Nike does not place its brand and products at the forefront. Instead, it highlights the greatness of the human spirit—defies odds and pushes through adversities.
Nike’s “Just do it” campaign has successfully associated the brand to the best of human perseverance.
In a way, a brand story has a filtering effect. It can change the perception towards a brand, boosting its value.
People who have heard or seen your brand story will relate all their associations to that story.
How do you construct a powerful brand story?
Everything starts with you. The people in your organization may know your name and logo, they may even be familiar with your mission statement.
But do they know what your brand truly stands for? In looking deep into your brand, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I believe in as a brand?
- What is truly unique about my company’s offering?
- What do my audience and customers need from me?
- What kinds of messages do I want to send?
A part of the self-identity journey is setting a clear vision, or refining your vision. “Don’t try to sell yourself to people, but rather, explain to them who you are as a company,” said Molly Hocks, digital marketer at AimClear.
Identify your audience
A brand story bridges the gap between your brand and your audience. But who composes your audience?
To be able to create effective brand stories, you should know your audience from a human level. What are their motivations, fears, needs, desires, and dreams?
“What do they value? What is the larger benefit you offer them—not what will help their life right now, but how you will allow them to improve their overall situation, ” said Lisa Barone, chief marketing officer at Overit.
Find your brand voice
Brand voice is the consistent expression of a brand’s messages, values, and personality. It is how you convey your personality to your audience.
Brand voice involves the choice of words, language, and the image of your marketing assets.
Your brand voice shall guide you in crafting your brand story and campaigns.
Some examples of brand voice are:
- Coca-cola: Friendly and joyful
- Nike: Inspiring
- Apple: Minimalist and confident
- MailChimp: Warm, welcoming and helpful
“Think of the voice you use every day. It exists and is part of your personality and energy. Think of the words you use and how you use them. Think of the images, colours, and fonts you cleave to. Consider the tenor, pitch, and velocity of your voice. Claim your words and -isms. Establish your style,” advised Felicia Sullivan, novelist and marketing executive.
Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool.
Humans have relied on storytelling to engage, express emotions, and share personal experiences for thousands of years.
Do you want to impart a lesson or influence perspectives? Tell a story.
Do you want to trigger emotions and inspire action? Tell a story.
Do you want to introduce your brand and make a lasting impact on your audience? Tell a story.