They say everyone has a story to tell – a history or account of events just waiting to be told.
But storytelling is undergoing a shift with storytelling no longer for individuals alone. Recent years has seen a significant increase in the number of businesses and brands standing up to tell their stories too. In fact, The Public Relations Society of America now lists brand storytelling among its top 12 trends in public relations for 2012.
What is brand storytelling?
Stories are as old as mankind itself. For generations, people have used stories as a way to communicate with one another, share knowledge and make sense of the world around them.
Brand storytelling is much the same.
Brand storytelling involves telling stories about a business, its people and its brand in a way that engages the reader, educates the reader, shapes their perception of the business and helps with their buying decision making.
Through brand storytelling, a business can communicate directly to its target audience with stories told through website copy, blogs, online articles, emails and social media.
Why the shift toward brand storytelling?
People have long been flooded with advertising images and marketing material. With the rise of the World Wide Web in the 90s followed closely a decade later by the social media craze people now have marketing messages coming at them from all angles.
Overwhelmed with constant messages, many people simply tune out when they believe they are faced with an advertisement or a sales pitch. That makes life quite tricky for marketers who have been forced to think outside the square when it comes to communicating key messages.
Brand storytelling allows businesses to communicate messages in a way consumers feel is not dictating. A good story will help consumers build trust for a brand while educating them about the brand in a less aggressive environment. It is a way of giving consumers the feeling of greater control of their purchasing decisions.
A recent example of brand storytelling is the Australian Mining Industry’s TV campaign aptly named “This Is Our Story”. In this campaign, real people working in the mining industry talk about their working day and generally promote the positive aspects of their jobs.
Storytelling has also been used successfully by charities such as World Vision for many years and McDonald’s have often used the stories of their farmers to promote themselves.
How to be a successful storyteller
The best stories will take the consumer on an emotional journey – one that appeals to their wants, needs and desires. At the same time, it should educate the consumer about the brand and remain open and transparent about the brand’s values.
A brand’s story should be like an open and honest conversation – to work it must feel genuine, accessible and two-way.
Before telling your story, identify how you want your customers to feel when they hear your story and what you want them to do after they hear it. You’ll also need to understand how your brand meet’s that customer’s emotional needs. Knowing this will help you write the story.
The Do’s and Don’ts of good brand storytelling
- Have a brand storytelling plan: Write and keep a library of stories and present them through a variety of media
- Maintain message consistency: Always tell a consistent story about your company, your product or your service regardless of where the message is delivered
- Keep it interesting: You need to engage the reader and keep them engaged long after they have heard the story
- Preach: A brand story should never read like marketing or advertising copy
- Lie: People will pick a story that is not genuine a mile away
Every brand has a story. Isn’t it time to tell yours?