Brand Storytelling in advertising is the HOT Topic these days. Great companies now recognize there’s power in their story and how it shapes their brand strategy.
Every organization has a story to tell. So, tell one that humanizes your brand and it will form a stronger and more memorable bond with your customer.
When marketing - what you do or what you sell isn’t necessarily the focus of your message. Sure, you want to promote your wares. But, your directive must achieve something else. It should appeal the consumer on their terms and create an authentic emotional connection to your brand.
The days of self promo and “buy me” offers gives little value nor can anyone see it improve their life.
Defining Your Brand Story
Your story isn't solely what you say it's what people believe about your brand based on public impression signals. So, the story is a 360 foot view formed by facts, opinions and perceptions, meaning that part of your narrative is told by the public.
What’s the purpose of your brand story? It’s to be helpful and human.
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Tell an Authentic Brand Story
Lessons from an Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl Commercial
We know Anheuser-Busch sells Budweiser. However, its Super Bowl ad didn’t focus on their beverage. Instead, it told the tale of a puppy and its friendship with a Clydesdale. You may recall the video. The pup is adopted, and the horse rallies its friends to keep the little one from leaving. The viewer becomes invested in the adventure and pulls for a positive outcome. An excellent example that forms an emotional connection through storytelling.
Although told through two animals, the story humanizes the brand via the bond of friendship and the perseverance of never giving up.
In fact, USA Today reported that this ad was the Ad Meter winner for that year. It beat 49 other advertisers who paid $4 million each for their 30 seconds of airtime. For Budweiser, there’s no mention of its product. With just minimal branding, the commercial closes with a public service announcement - “Drink Responsibly”. This is their PSA being helpful.
What’s a Brand Story?
The story’s a narrative. As such, it has a beginning, middle, and end. It evokes emotion in the consumer. You have ample leeway in how you position your brand seeing you keep your message consistent. With Budweiser, the product’s name provided the notion of “Best Buds” at the conclusion. A clever play on words.
It was a smart way of positioning their brand and tying in the story’s content to an emotional feeling. Whereby, changing the way you (the viewer) feels towards the brand.
At its heart, a powerful brand story exemplifies the combination of a company’s vision, mission, and values or the ”why”. Your “why“ should not be to sell more product as that’s merely an outcome. It‘s the reason you do what you do and that you do it better than anyone.
Next, your story should adapt its theme to suit your buyer persona. This is your ideal customer for whom you must personalize your message.
When a consumer identifies with your ”why” and feels that personal connection, only then can they see your product in their life. This becomes the brand’s new identity.
The Psychology of Storytelling
The adage that “sex sells” might have met its match. Today’s storytelling is far more powerful. In fact, it has plenty of science behind it. Greater Good Magazine proves that the brain loves a good story. Most importantly, it recognizes the story as a vehicle to communicate values.
Great brand stories have the power to connect people from large groups to different walks of life. What everyone has in common is an interest in shared beliefs communicated through the narrative. You can use several clever storytelling tools to get your hooks in. However, don’t neglect to communicate the more profound message. Eye candy and shock value no longer sell the way they used to in the past. Your story must solve for the user.
What’s your brand message if not an attempt to find shared value with your audience? However, every story isn’t created equally. Some stories are cold, boring and self-promoting. Don’t let that be you. Let your story elevate your audience and illicit a positive reaction.
How to Build a Brand Story
So, how to create your brand story. Start by outlining a basic. Then, build a storyline that connects and creates an emotional response. If you’re not going to include a full story arc, then your brand storytelling should include:
- Their challenge
- Your solution
- Their success
Your story must be significant for the audience. It must appeal to something your ideal customer cares about. Although many may love puppies, this might not be the right path for your brand. Instead, consider what value you want to communicate to your market. Then, find an approach you can personalize and make relevant. Remember, be original and authentic.
Don‘t over-complicate your story. If the viewer doesn‘t understand what you’re trying to say, it won’t connect. Avoid the story within the storyline or the sophisticated setting that makes the viewers see little significance in their lives.
Each consumer should be able to identify with any part of your brand story. Somewhere, it should feature an emotional hook that resonates with your target audience. If a person can‘t connect with the story, your message is lost. On the flip side if viewers feel that connection to your brand they‘re more likely to see your product in their lives.
Happy or sad, the story of your brand should create an emotional response in the viewer. This effect is something that no volume of SEO, Content Marketing nor Social Media can achieve alone.
It’s the personal connection between your brand and the consumer. So, don‘t be afraid to incorporate conflict, heartbreak, and stress into your story. However, your ending should offer a positive, feel-good solution. Moreover, position your product to solve a problem.
The story of your brand shouldn’t be something it’s not. In other words, don’t seek to make your product into a luxury product when it’s actually more generic. In the same way, focus on ways you and your ideal customer work together, believe in similar things, and have shared values.
What do you need your viewer to do? “Best Buds” might spend time together. Does your product empower the small business owner to take on the big competitor? Will it enable the charity to reach its goal of supporting a cause? Does it demonstrate high-quality customer service? You tell the story and then give the desired action to go with it.
The Art and Science of Humanizing a Brand
In the past, you might have advertised with a simple “buy me” message. Maybe you had good results. However, consumers have moved on. They expect more now. Moreover, there’s more competition for attention. Unless you have a monopoly on your product, you need to compete with on a personal level. Online marketing and the power of reviews has put the consumer in the driver’s seat.
Beyond price point and selection, the shopper wants to know “why” doing business with you makes more sense than paying a bit more and buying from the competition. So, pay attention to the details, tell compelling brand stories, and go build a memorable brand experience.