Over the years, many companies have drilled the secrets of an effective brand building strategy and have become masters in the art of storytelling. Often considered by entrepreneurs as the most powerful tool to catch people’s attention, involve them emotionally and help them remember the content you’re trying to convey; implementing it successfully is not always as easy as it looks. Through this article, you will discover 4 pieces of advice to create a relevant storytelling strategy for your business.
Identify and understand your audience
Before getting to the heart of the subject, I would like you to ask yourself two simple questions. “To what do I connect myself?”, “To what do I identify myself as an individual?” Sport, photography, Music? Traveler, gamer, brunch lover?… As innocuous as it seems to be, answering these questions constitutes the cornerstone of every effective storytelling strategy.
In order to draw your audience’s attention and involve it fully in the story of your brand, it is essential to get a good understanding of your target characteristics, needs, and expectations. This preliminary step will permit you to define the elements that are the most relevant to focus on and interesting from your audience’s eyes.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a concrete example.
In 2004, Dove launched its worldwide marketing campaign for Real Beauty. Many women are lacking confidence in themselves which impedes them seeing what makes them beautiful as an individual and more especially as a woman. Therefore, Dove chose to base its storytelling strategy on the gap between how others perceive their beauty and the way they perceive themselves.
The aim of this campaign was to celebrate the natural physical variation embodied by all women and inspire them to have the confidence to be comfortable with themselves. In order to spotlight the natural beauty of each woman, Dove leaned on non-professional models and consumers, women in which every other woman could recognize themselves. By capitalizing on sincerity and simplicity, the British firm created a powerful self-esteem story with a strong message every woman could connect to and empathize with: “You are more beautiful than you think.”
Invite them into your brand’s story
As Susan Gunelius explains in her Forbes article, “Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches. Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.”
By reminding your audience that your brand is human and inviting them to be an extension of your brand’s story, you will significantly increase the efficiency of your storytelling campaign.
Create narrative patterns to maintain cadence
Just as timing matters, cadence is crucial to persuasive storytelling.
In his book “The Ethics of Storytelling: Narrative Hermeneutics, History, and the Possible”, Hanna Meretoja, Professor of Comparative Literature, defends the idea according which the force of narrative does not have to depend on causally explaining the narrated events and can be based on its “power to initiate and resolve an emotional cadence.”
You should then understand that the more timely you’ll be, the more relevant your story will be. Engaging your consumers in their moments of highest interest is absolutely essential to create relevancy and take advantage of existing opportunities. If your cadence is too slow, it could hinder your audience to immerse completely it in your storytelling campaign. On the contrary, a fast cadence could confuse your consumers.
Therefore, by establishing narrative patterns, you will give your audience some dots to easily connect to your story and create relevancy.
Don’t be afraid to tell about your flaws
What essential problem was your brand born out of? How many rejections did you face before finding an opened door? How did you overcome these difficulties? What did you learn from that challenging periods?
The answers to these questions are what differentiate your route from your competitor’s one and nurture the most important dimension of your brand’s story: Honesty.
Stories about real people solving real problems are inspiring, relevant, and valuable to consumers.
Before revolutionizing the housing rental between individuals, Airbnb founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky, were two roommates living in San Francisco that had troubles paying their rent. In order to “make a few bucks”, the pair decided to turn their loft into an area that could fit three air mattresses. Along with the mattress and a night’s sleep came the promise of a breakfast too. After very humble starts, the two designers got together with their old roommate, Nathan Blecharczyk, to build it into a business. From that initial problem, Air Bed and Breakfast has become a 30$ billion company.
Once you will have pinpointed your company’s initial problem and the human process that brought about its solution, you will be able to use it as a starting point and a motor element to your storytelling strategy. Speaking honestly about hardships, you’ll not only make the brand more relatable, but by exhibiting vulnerability, you’ll also lay the groundwork for a relationship to bloom.
You now have all the cards on hand to create a relevant storytelling strategy and invite your consumers to take part in your success story. And remember, as Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel”
- Hanna Meretoja (2017), “The Ethics of Storytelling: Narrative Hermeneutics, History, and the Possible”, http://bit.ly/2FcMlmE
- Ffion Lindsay (2015), “The Seven Pillars of Storytelling”, http://bit.ly/2CYsPo3