Storytelling is an integral part of your brand’s marketing. In fact, marketing should be all about “telling your brand’s story.” You have heard about the importance of developing a brand voice-- but not about what you should do with that voice. And what should you do? Tell your story, of course! Some business owners and marketers make the mistake of telling the story of why they started their business or how the business came to be. That is definitely part of your brand’s story, but the truth is most audiences are not interested in an origin story. They want to know what issues your brand was designed to solve and improve a consumer’s life. In other words, it’s not about where your brand is coming from, it's where it is going.
Your brand’s story should be relatable to your audience. In fact, your audience should be able to identify with your brand, even though your brand is not actually a person. This will not only capture your audience's attention, but will continually keep them engaged throughout the years. Building the customer into your brand’s story builds loyalty and allows even more people to identify with your brand. But what are the best ways to do this? First and foremost it is by addressing customer pain points, but deeper than that, empathizing with their pain will capture the attention of your audience and engage them.
Understanding the Elements of Effective Storytelling
Choosing a central theme
As discussed before, choosing a theme that can engage your audience is the key to a consistent storytelling strategy in your brand. The theme that you should revolve your marketing around is your brand mission, which should be addressing and empathizing with your consumer’s pain points.
How do you identify this? Of course, you probably have an idea of why consumers need and want your product. You could communicate this idea. But you are better off discovering why your customer base buys your product. It may be totally different than why you think they purchase your products and services. One way to discover this is by interviewing customers to find out their opinions on how your product or service has helped them.
In our own research here at Highbrid Media, we have discovered some of the reasons why our customer base has purchased our services. It was not necessarily what we expected, but we embraced it, and eventually turned our marketing story into something that our customer base can learn from.
Next, develop a character. If you have buyer personas this should sound familiar. A character would be a representative of someone who is feeling the pain points that your product aims to solve. Because you have already done your research on why customers are attracted to your product or service, you already have the motives for this character. How literal your character is is up to you. They can be an actual person with a name and physical characteristics or they can simply be a lens that you frame your marketing (more on this later).
Next, the plot is based on the characters' motives. Think about why customers have the pain points that they do. How did these pain points come to be? Then think about how these pain points were resolved with your product. The resolution for your character is always discovering your product(s). Create a plot with the following major milestones: character intro, rising conflict, climax, resolution. How does your brand story fit into this framework-- what does your character learn along the way. Ultimately, no matter the story, it should reflect a universal human struggle. Sounds like a lot for a marketing strategy, no? But, this is how stories become etched into our memories, their relatability and resolutions become a structure for us to live our lives. And every time your audience references that structure-- they remember your brand.
Choosing the Right Medium for Storytelling
There are many mediums to tell your story-- but the right one is the one your audience can be most immersed into your story. To properly hear your story, a customer needs to be able to differentiate it and have it stand out from the rest of the messages they are being inundated with day in and day out. No doubt, there’s tons of competition for real estate for the minds and attention of audiences.
No matter what medium you decide to primarily play out your story, it's important to remain consistent across all channels. For instance, you may need to deploy a multi-channel campaign, the story that you are telling should remain the same. Whether that is through email or social media. Social media and email provides you with the opportunity to practice your story telling without committing to paying for ads. Additionally, with both of these platforms you can A/B test to see if your story is compelling to customers.
Choosing the right medium means, once again, understanding your audience. What kinds of mediums are they engaging in? Research their demographics to discover what mediums capture their attention. Obviously, demographics is not a great place to leave your research, but it's a good starting point. Once you get there, think about psychographics in creating your messaging.
Incorporating Storytelling into Brand Messaging
So what’s the difference between storytelling and brand messaging? Brand messaging, as you are probably aware, is the verbal or written communication elements that convey the essence, values, and unique selling propositions of a brand to your target audience. It encompasses the language, tone, and style of communication used by a brand to convey its key messages consistently across various touchpoints. Brand messaging is probably what you have been using to communicate the brand’s mission since you began your company. It's the phrases, keywords, and identities most closely correlated to the brand identity.
Transforming your brand messaging into a story sounds simple, but there are some pitfalls you should be careful to avoid.
- Don’t use ultra-niche jargon that could isolate outsiders and novices. Those of us in B2B sales and marketing are tempted to use as much jargon as possible in order to signal to “members of our tribe” that we are one of them. But, this kind of messaging can isolate decision makers who may not be directly part of the department you are directing this messaging towards. Remember the universal human struggle your story is trying to tell.
- You're telling a disconnected story. Remember the plot structure, and remember that a story does not need a novel. All a story needs is an introduction, rising conflict, climax, and a resolution. Brands have been able to do this in 30 seconds or less. Challenge yourself to get all the parts of your story into the medium of choice.
- Ending in a cliffhanger. While cliff hangers are entertaining in movies or TV shows, they are ill fit for branding. Think that your audience will be engaged by this and stick it out to find out if there is a resolution? Think again. Your resolution should always be clear and easy to decipher. The resolution should always be the character resolving their problem with your product.
In conclusion, the art of storytelling in marketing is a powerful tool that allows brands to captivate their audience, forge emotional connections, and differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace. By harnessing the elements of effective storytelling, brands can transcend mere product features and tap into the hearts and minds of consumers.
Through storytelling, brands can convey their unique values, mission, and purpose, creating a narrative that resonates with their target audience. By understanding the needs, desires, and pain points of their customers, brands can tailor their stories to create a profound impact. A well-crafted brand story evokes emotions, sparks imagination, and invites the audience on a journey that aligns with their aspirations.
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