4 Steps to Effectively Telling Your Brand Story
Marketing is all about standing out from the noise.
And storytelling is one of the most authentic and effective ways to do this.
Storytelling is deeply embedded in human nature. In fact, neuroscience research has shown that our brains respond similarly to real-life experiences and story experiences. Both activate sensory processing regions for touch, taste, or smell.
A story and its listener/reader syncing up in this way is called neural coupling. Marketing teams who learn from this phenomenon can cultivate a better understanding of how to share a product or service’s story with potential customers and make what they’re selling an integral part of a customer’s experience. It’s a powerful tool — one that businesses of all sizes can benefit from.
Sharing Their Stories
Companies are starting to understand this value. Chipotle, for instance, created new opportunities for engagement and interest with its Rad Lands campaign, promoting not only its restaurants, but also its values. To craft a fun and compelling narrative, it even worked with the team behind “Yo Gabba Gabba,” a highly successful children’s entertainment brand.
In another example, and relying our help with animation, Delta Dental created a webisode series called “The Land of Smiles.” Along with entertaining kids through humor, the series teaches them about how to care for their teeth and imbues the brand with a sense of care and approachability.
These campaigns aren’t just a thinly veiled attempt at marketing — they’re real stories that stand on their own. Audiences can feel and recognize this distinction. While they also know companies exist to provide goods and services and to be profitable, these stories allow businesses to remain transparently focused on their end goals while simultaneously creating more customer engagement.
Here are a few simple steps brands can take to get their own stories out of their heads and into the marketplace:
1. Understand Your Audience and Their Consumption Habits
Remember that ancient business wisdom “The customer is always right”? Well, when it comes to crafting a compelling brand story, the maxim should be: “The audience is always right.”
Audiences know what they enjoy seeing and the channels on which they enjoy seeing it. Focus on understanding these preferences to capture their attention and interest. You can do this by undertaking a market analysis to learn your customers’ values and viewpoints, and you should also maximize your reach by not relegating yourself to certain channels. Just make sure you get the messaging right in the right place. If your audience isn’t on Facebook, for instance, don’t invest in a Facebook campaign.
2. Emphasize Your Audience’s ‘Tribes’
This point is a little more nuanced than the previous one because people are complex. We all belong to a number of different “tribes.” Whether that’s identifying at certain moments throughout our lives as a beagle owner, a tech nerd, or a distance runner, we prioritize the different aspects of our character by thinking in terms of what tribes we belong to.
Brands should make resources or entertainment for the tribes they feel resonate best with them. The Home Depot did just that with its “How To” videos on YouTube, which now boast more than 72 million views. The company succeeded by tapping into a tribal base of DIYers who rely on its brand to get the job done at home, making instructional support videos a natural way to connect its people.
“The audience is always right.”
3. Show — Don’t Sell
Fiction writers have long kept top of mind a prime directive: “Show, don’t tell.” It means to offer a character’s motivations by showing her actions and reactions in a scene instead of simply explaining what she wants.
In the same way, story-based marketing should avoid the hard sell in the narrative — a turnoff for audiences. By refraining from quickly getting to the traditional call to action, you should instead focus on establishing trust by showing your value, not selling your product. If done properly, the audience will then seek out the content and support the brand through purchases.
4. Get Visual
People are visual creatures. In fact, 65 percent of us are visual learners, meaning what’s seen is often remembered more than what’s read. With no shortage of options for stunning visuals, savvy marketers are turning to captivating media for driving their brands’ stories forward.
Comics are an excellent choice for this. They are great for explaining abstract principles and are limited only by the imagination of the artists. Moreover, they convey a sense of approachability because they seem more fun and rough-hewn, less slick and corporate. Gaming and animation are other options. For gaming, customers can get that winning euphoria while consuming and purchasing, and animation — with its combination of visuals, movement, and sound — appeals to viewers’ entire sensory spectrum.
However you approach it, story should be the centerpiece of your marketing campaigns and branding narrative. By understanding your audience and their tribes to build in authenticity, you can instill in your materials a human touch, showing audiences what you offer by delighting the eye and warming the heart. Your customers will love you for it.