There is something about epic films that makes them memorable, emotional and even haunting. These films tell a great story; they infiltrate the human psyche so that viewers form an emotional connection with the characters.
Brand storytelling works on the same principles. Telling the story of your brand involves a careful mix of branding fundamentals and fiction writing. It is about weaving a creative narrative about your brand using fictional and real characters without deviating from your core promise.
Why should you tell stories when you can just put out regular content for your audience?
The difference between stories and say a white paper or an e-book is that stories create a strong emotional connection between consumers and your brand; they make consumers want to be part of the brand. Emotional connection yields loyalty and brand advocacy among your customers.
How do you develop a story for your brand? How do you use stories to establish a successful brand?
A messaging structure, also known as a messaging architecture, is critical to positioning your brand in a way so that it is visible, memorable and relevant to your target audience.
While logos, images and graphics tell a visual story, a messaging structure tells the verbal story of your brand. This architecture is essentially a hierarchy of communication goals that convey your value proposition, ideas that differentiate your brand from others and the promise your customers can depend on you for.
In other words a messaging architecture allows you to:
How do you define a messaging architecture for storytelling? Start by identifying words that you and your customers use to describe your brand. Then, use the most important of these buzzwords and terminologies as a starting point to craft your brand narrative- what you are in business for, your history, your challenges and failures, and innovative solutions that make your brand what it is today.
If you and your customers describe your company as ‘innovative’, ‘transparent’, ‘empathetic’, or ‘creative,’ what do these words mean to your overall brand? What story can you tell using these terminologies.
Storytelling is not about marketing, advertising or self-promotion. In fact, to be successful at telling stories about your brand, you need to forget about marketing altogether.
Weaving the story of your brand is also not exclusively about the history or mission of your company or product. Yours customers are a vital element of your brand’s narrative. Videos or testimonials featuring customers who have used your product to solve or alleviate their problems are a good example of incorporating customers into your brand’s narrative.
Listening to what customers say or feel about your product will also come in handy as you develop your messaging architecture.
To develop your story, map out answers to these critical questions:
All stories utilize the experiences of characters (real or fictional) to convey a message. For your target audience to be emotionally invested in your brand, they need to connect with one or more characters.
Depending on your messaging architecture, your story can utilize different characters including the company’s founder, the employees, venture funders, loyal customers and brand advocates, all of whom encompass the core of what your brand is all about.
It is also possible to create fictional characters to convey a message of how your product helps them to overcome a certain challenge.
Great stories sell themselves. The choice of words is as important as the concept or message you want to convey through your story.
The best stories have a human interest angle, speak directly to the reader or viewer and are unforgettably interesting.
Of course the tone, pace and presentation of your message must take into consideration the brand persona or target audience. A younger audience might be more receptive to a causal tone and words than an older audience would.
Even then, the rule of thumb is to infuse your stories with personality, human interest and a sense of conversation, whether you are writing a blog post or scripting for a YouTube video.
Everyone has a story and every brand has a story too. The difference between successful brands and those that are struggling is the ability to emotionally engage consumers with the goal of building loyalty and converting customers from liking your brand to loving it. Successful brands do this through storytelling without diluting their brand’s promise.