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.

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Connected Business Concepts

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.
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.
Grassroots marketing involves a brand creating highly targeted content for a particular niche or audience. When an organization engages in grassroots marketing, it focuses on a small group of people with the hope that its marketing message is shared with a progressively larger audience.
Writing a copy is the art of crafting catchy texts to persuade a particular demographic. “A copy” is the written content aimed at converting impressions to clicks and converting clicks to high sales. Any form of writing that persuasively requests an action from your audience is called copywriting.
Buzz marketing leverages the power of word-of-mouth advertising to create products or services with enough novelty that they go viral. In many cases, buzz marketing leverages on versatile content that can easily scale and be readapted to various contexts and fear of missing out (FOMO) to amplify the effect of word-of-mouth campaigns.
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.
Binge-watching is the practice of watching TV series all at once. In a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival in 2013, Kevin Spacey said: “If they want to binge then we should let them binge.” This new content format would be popularized by Netflix, launching its TV series all at once.
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