Stories are powerful. They are the reason we love movies, books, and even ads. Commercials are the sole reason some people watch the SuperBowl. Why? Because they tell a story that is winsome or funny or otherwise emotionally satisfying. Stories are compelling and they hook us.Brand storytelling is the unified narrative that combines the facts of your brand along with the emotions you want your customers to feel. A company’s story can be how they got started – like Paul Newman’s line of organic grocery products. It can be why it does what it does – like Tom’s shoes “buy one, donate one” mission. Or a story can be about why the product matters – like State Farm’s catchy “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” to ease your anxiety during a crisis.
Storytelling is a powerful means to use in marketing. In fact, one statistic claims that messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than just the facts. Think of what that might mean for your business. Companies can no longer afford to be faceless, impersonal entities. With storytelling, your business can stand out, connect with its customers, and engage with them beyond the surface.
Storytelling connects us, helps us make sense of the world, and communicates our values and beliefs. A worthy story makes us think and feel, and speaks to us in ways that stats, data, and presentations just can’t.
Brand storytelling also helps strengthen the mission of a business internally and externally. In creating a story, you first must have a solid idea of what you do and why you do it. Only then can you clearly communicate it, and it pays. As John Kotter and James Heskett demonstrated in Corporate Culture & Performance, “Companies that convey purpose and value can outperform their counterparts in stock price by a factor of 12 and have a profit performance ratio 750x higher than companies without shared values.” If you have a story that catches the attention of your audience, you can capitalize on your company’s purpose and values.
Here are 3 ways brand storytelling can benefit your business:
STORIES HELP YOU STAND OUT – It’s no longer good enough to have a quality product or essential service – literally millions of companies do. You have to find a way to be memorable. With thousands of new competitors popping up all the time, millions of pieces of content being created and released, and billions of dollars being spent to earn the attention and loyalty of buyers, being memorable is a challenge.
Instead of Instead of boasting your products’ information and rave reviews, find a way to make your brand get into the hearts of people by wrapping your message in a story that provokes an emotional response. (Remember that emotions drive purchases more than logic does!)
Share your brand’s history, challenges, victories. Share what you want to be remembered for; what you never want them to forget. How do you want your audience to feel when they experience your brand and how can you convey that? Nike knocked it out of the park with their “Just Do It” campaign – 45 years ago! – because their story was simply to make their customers feel strong, capable, and motivated. It worked, and it’s still working. Your ability to tell a great story will set you apart because people remember stories, and their decision-making is based more on emotions than anything else.
STORIES CONNECT YOUR CUSTOMERS TO YOUR BRAND – When crafting your messaging, think about what your audience truly needs from you (beyond a product or service).
Consider Capitol One. They are a credit card company, but they sell their product by selling security, protection, financial safety. Tesla sells more than cars; it sells the worthiness of protecting the environment through energy efficiency.
Think about what emotions, values, and ideas you can offer your audience. What do you want them to walk away feeling when they interact with you? What sort of value are you offering them every time they engage with your content? What does your brand mean to them, aside from what you’re selling?
The strongest connections and the best stories tap into people’s emotions, so begin there. Begin with the feelings to engage them and get them to believe in you and what you stand for. People crave connection. We’re built that way. And we are built to love stories. We’ve been telling them in one way or another since the beginning of time. Find a way to connect with your audience using stories, and they’ll be captivated
Once your audience knows you and trusts you, they’ll buy from you.
STORIES MAKE YOU MORE HUMAN, MORE RELATABLE – Most people would rather invest in a human than a business, so bringing out the humanity of your company is a strategic move. However, it’s also a highly-ethical move because people innately desire human relationship. Storytelling fills that need for your customers – it educates them and satisfies their consumer needs while making them feel connected to you. Storytelling leaves a lasting positive impression on your audience.
The key to being more relatable to your audience is expressing what it is that makes you human. Is it your rags to riches story? Your ability to keep getting up when life knocks you down? Your desire to make a difference or leave a legacy?
If possible, show your audience that you are like them. You are human. You have the same needs and wants they do. You want to impact your family, your community, your world. For example, look at Dove Soap. Dove reaches out to women to promote self-care no matter their size, shape, or age. By acknowledging the body shame issues that women often carry, it identifies with its audience and offers compassion and empathy and solutions. Another company that excels at brand storytelling is Coke. Over the years from its “Have a Coke and a smile” to today’s “Taste the Feeling,” Coke seeks to communicate that drinking its beverage is an emotional experience that bonds us all together – we all want a refreshing beverage to quench our thirst and we all want to be in community. These two companies demonstrate that they “know” their audiences.
We have been telling stories for as long as we’ve been human–they are an absolutely essential part of our day-to-day communications. Our lives begin with stories, and they are peppered throughout with them. Margaret Atwood once said, “We’re all stories, in the end.” And if that’s true, it explains why brand storytelling is such an effective way to reach an audience.