The Importance of Having a Story to Tell
According to Forbes, most people are exposed to around 4 000 to 10 000 advertising messages each day! So it’s never been more important to cut through the clutter and capture your customer’s attention – by telling the right story.
Since the beginning of time, humans have loved a good story! From our ancestors sharing memories of love and war around a fire, to favourite bed-time tales, and the yarns we tell in a cosy pub – stories talk to the heart of who we are. They speak of human truths, our greatest fears and our deepest emotions – so it’s hardly surprising that great story-telling has been adopted by savvy businesses who want to connect at a deeper level with their digital customers.
Brand storytelling is defined as a cohesive narrative that embraces all the features of your brand’s identity – who you are and what you stand for – and expresses it in a way that encourages an emotional response from your customer. It’s not simply ‘show and tell’ advertising – it is messaging that attracts, engages, entertains and truly touches your customer. It’s about bringing your offering alive and building connections in a human way, that is as meaningful as it is memorable.
And when it’s done well, the impact can be truly powerful.
As Convince and Convert reports: stories are 22 times more memorable than facts and figures alone and our neural activity increases x 5 when listening to a story. Developing a brand story means working with your marketing company to define your brand’s identity or personality. It’s about finding that ‘truth’ or reason-to-be that sets it apart, speaks to your audience and rewards hearts and minds. It’s finding the ‘Just Do It’ in Nike; the ‘Think Different’ in Apple and the ‘Taste the Feeling’ of Coke. Then it’s about making sure this narrative weaves through every piece of brand communication, like a golden thread. So while a good brand story will clearly encompass your brand’s mission and core values – it will also offer the consumer so much more than just a product or service. Rather, it invites your customer to step into a brand experience and really ‘feel it’.
Who can forget the ad that P & G created for the 2014 Winter Olympics, that was very little to do with wash powder and everything to do with parenting: Youtube When viewers stepped into the experiences of Olympic mothers, they ‘got’ what P & G stood for – and immediately wanted to call Mum!
And of course here’s where it gets interesting! Whereas traditional advertising was based on one-way communication, today’s digital world means brands are in DIALOGUE with their customers. Everything you say, do, express and share on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and in blogs, is an opportunity to emphasise and build on your brand story. Your customers become part-authors of who you are – and great brands are using these opportunities to shape their stories.
Your brand is what your customers say it is
As long as your story is relevant to your customer and is engaging, entertaining and rewarding – you can build a brand and a presence that lives in public social consciousness. Great brand story-tellers use every touch point and opportunity to reinforce their story: through short videos that capture the essence of who they are, mini-ads, posts, blogs and tailored newsletters that talk to the heart of their brand and their customers. And every ‘like’, every retweet, and every online conversation means your presence grows and grows.
Perhaps the height of brand story-telling is when companies get their customers to tell their stories for them… And here Airbnb reigns supreme. The company has positioned customers at the centre of their brand, in fact – they ARE the brand. The site’s ‘Belong Anywhere’ campaign used imagery and short films to invite prospective guests into the lives and homes of Airbnb hosts, to share an experience. It moved Airbnb’s business away from ‘renting houses’ to ‘you belong’. And the Airbnb site also has a section solely dedicated to ‘Stories from the Airbnb Community.” Genius!
Get brand story-telling right and you’ll attract the kind of customers you want, make your brand more accessible and relatable – and build trusted, real relationships with your market. And that’s no tall story.