What Is Brand Storytelling? Brand Storytelling In A Nutshell

Brand storytelling involves the use of authentic, sustainable, and emotion-driven narratives that promote organizational growth and customer loyalty. Brand storytelling is a form of integrated marketing where a company’s brand content is streamlined across multiple media channels and market activities. This may include social media, content marketing, public relations, video, search engine optimization, sales collateral, messaging, and advertising.

Understanding brand storytelling

Brand storytelling is a sustainable way to communicate a brand based on the stories a company shares and the stories others share about the company based on its behaviors or actions. It’s important to note that brand storytelling does not encompass a company logo, catchphrase, timeline, or advertising commercial. Nor does it solely encompass the mission, vision, and values stated on the company website. 

Instead, think of brand storytelling as the amalgamation of:

  • What a company stands for and what drives it toward success. 
  • What differentiates the company from its competitors.
  • A company’s values, beliefs, and attitudes that comprise corporate culture.
  • A company’s history, failures, successes, reasons for being and the individuals responsible for playing a significant role.

The most skillful brand storytellers strike the right balance between commercial objectives – such as increasing brand awareness or revenue – and an audience-centric approach to the story itself. 

Brand storytelling has become more popular in recent times as consumers actively avoid traditional advertising methods that are disruptive and repetitive. To that end, brands are now creating media content that is also entertaining and informative to appeal to the discerning consumer.

The foundational elements of brand storytelling

In truth, there are many approaches to telling brand stories that will resonate with consumers. Having said that, it is a good idea to incorporate the following foundational elements and then customize the narrative to suit the individual brand:

  • Plot and conflict – first, identify the antagonist who establishes a conflict and a protagonist that seeks to resolve it.
  • Characters – the antagonist and protagonist should be “built out” with character depth to allow consumers to become emotionally invested. This causes them to cheer for the good guy and admonish the bad guy.
  • Setting – the setting establishes the mood, influences character behavior, reveals conflict, and, in theory, elicits an emotional response in the consumer.
  • Theme – in other words, what is the purpose of the story? If a business does not understand why it is telling a story, there is no chance the story will have its intended purpose. 
  • Form – or the medium with which the story will be told. These days, there are many options such as podcasts, webinars, spoken, video testimonials and success stories, animation, film, magazines, blog posts, articles, and social media content.

Brand storytelling and the marketing funnel

The sales funnel is a model used in marketing to represent an ideal, potential journey that potential customers go through before becoming actual customers. As a representation, it is also often an approximation, that helps marketing and sales teams structure their processes at scale, thus building repeatable sales and marketing tactics to convert customers.

Most businesses tell stories to influence consumer behavior. To do this effectively, brand storytelling should be in harmony with the four stages of a typical marketing funnel and the customer journey. This assumes the business has already identified a unique value proposition and has a detailed understanding of its target audience.

Let’s take a look at the four stages below. At each stage, the business should be telling stories that are relatable to the consumer in terms of their unique pains, struggles, or goals.

AIDA stands for attention, interest, desire, and action. That is a model that is used in marketing to describe the potential journey a customer might go through before purchasing a product or service. The AIDA model helps organizations focus their efforts when optimizing their marketing activities based on the customers’ journeys.

1 – Awareness (build intrigue)

In the awareness stage, it is important to mention shared values and interests. In other words, what can the business say about its passions, problems, or experiences to make consumers feel like it understands them?

Investment platform Wealthsimple featured the story of a customer who was saddled with debt in its digital magazine. Since the customer was someone the company’s target audience could relate to, the brand was able to build authority and intrigue about how their debt was reduced.

2 – Consideration (educate and inform)

In the consideration stage, the business should provide additional information to describe how it came to be founded and how it seeks to remedy the problems identified in the awareness stage. 

Practical information that teaches, motivates, or engages is the most effective.

3 – Conversion (influence a purchase)

Now it is time to detail how the business can actually solve the problem. Customer stories and their associated social proof build credibility and trust. Ideally, these stories should clarify whether the product or service does what it says on the box. They should also describe its competitive advantage and why the customer should care.

Some brands also use customer testimonials to focus on emotional impact over product features. For example, Google featured a goat farming couple who had increased their milk sales by 6000% in four years using Google Ads. Instead of focusing on the features within the ad platform that were responsible for the success, Google painted it as a typical “rags to riches” story where the farmers started with a single goat and grew their flock to over 70.

4 – Retention (inspire engagement)

Customer retention is one of the most important metrics of any business. Here, it is important to share experiences that turn customers into fans and make them feel part of something special. The most adept marketing teams  also realize that consumers are predisposed to making connections and attachments with others of a similar ilk.

To take advantage of this predisposition, Patagonia tells different stories that are segmented by the various preferences of their audience to make them feel like they belong, For example, the brand has devoted a section of its website to a place where climbers can come together and share stories, tips, and equipment reviews.

Key takeaways:

  • Brand storytelling involves the use of authentic, sustainable, and emotion-driven narratives that promote organizational growth and customer loyalty.
  • Brand storytelling endeavors to strike the right balance between commercial objectives and an audience-centric approach to the story itself. The foundational elements of a compelling story can be used to design strategies that attract consumers who are now averse to disruptive forms of marketing and advertising.
  • Brand storytelling is used to influence consumer behavior. This can be done by telling stories across the four-stages of the marketing funnel that includes awareness, consideration, conversion, and retention.

Main Free Guides:

Marketing Glossary

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.
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