The art of storytelling has been around since before humans invented paper.
From communicating through stories by drawing on cave walls to reading them on news websites, the art of storytelling may have evolved, but is still the preferred way of thinking (and learning) for most of us.
We think in terms of stories all through the day and narrate them to our friends in conversations because stories are intertwined with our subconscious. For generations, stories have been used to facilitate learning and understanding of the World around us, and as a result, we are hardwired to understand and retain stories. While we forget most of them almost immediately, ones that tap into our emotions, ones that we identify with, stay with us.
For this reason, stories have been a part of several successful brand strategies, and there are several case studies to back this claim up. Look at this chart of the boost in shares for different brands on Facebook, after they introduced a brand character:
With data present all around us, marketers can utilize brand narratives to introduce more authenticity in their stories and to strategically use platforms and tools to drive results with their stories.
Humans (A.K.A. our audiences) are continually attracted to the same fundamental things. One such thing is a good, engaging story, and the other, are visuals. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than the written word. For this reason, simply creating a brand narrative is not enough to drive engagements, if you want your audiences to be truly invested in your narrative, you have to support it with strong, engaging, and convincing visuals.
Let’s see how we can do exactly that:
Humanize Your Brand
As social media becomes more popular, the interaction between audiences and brands become easier. Brands are continually using various social media platforms to become more approachable. This trend has led to the rise in the need for brands to come out of their cols, corporate images, and help audiences realize there are real people working behind the scenes.
The two simplest ways to do this with storytelling are to either introduce the faces that work to make your brand what it is, or to tell a fictional story that highlights the unique selling proposition (USP) of your brand. Here’s a short guide on how to do both:
When we talk about introducing the faces behind a brand, it refers to more than simply introducing your team on a camera. Instead, it refers to telling the story of your brand, communicating your vision, and talking about how you wish to make people’s lives better with your products. Take the example of Apple, their story is one that not only inspires people but also has elements that people can identify with. For instance, the fact that the world’s first trillion dollar company was started by two friends working out of a garage is something we can relate to, especially in the age of startups.
Another way to humanize a brand is to show how the offering of the brand is making the everyday lives of people better. When Uber came to India, they understood that the new audience did not connect much with their existing “online cab service” image. They introduced the “Badhte Chalein” campaign, that literally translates to “keep moving forward”, and related it to the fact that each cab ride people take is ultimately “a step forward in the larger journey of their lives.” The campaign was extremely well received and thanks to a series of ads and India’s most popular cricket player as their brand ambassador, Uber was able to capture a large share of the cab market in the country.
While the second example for completely fictional, it was able to connect with the audiences because it addressed their pain points.
To get these strategies right, the first and the most important step is to build an in-depth understanding of your audience, their pain points, and how your brand offers a unique solution to their problems.
Let Your Visuals Do The Talking
The most popular rule of great filmmaking is to “say without saying.”
Consider the beginning of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. Most of the beginning is shot in French. While most of Tarantino’s audience speaks English, he didn’t need an English introduction to communicate what is going on. In fact, in the very beginning, when the German cars are approaching, the elements in the scene communicate everything, the setting, the fact that the cars are German, that the people hiding in the basement are Jews.
While brand narratives aren’t expected to be as detailed as Tarantino’s films, the same rule can exponentially increase the effectiveness of your narrative. In fact, once you understand how visuals can help create “unsaid” suggestions or context, you can utilize them to your advantage.
For instance, if a plumber is trying to create an online presence, they can utilize visuals and other communication tools to associate professionalism with their service. This will especially come in handy if the plumber is a one-man show supported by an online presence.
Align The Narrative To The Brand’s Purpose
While brand narratives can take several forms in terms of concept, and in terms of delivery, your narrative should stick to the original values on which your brand was formed.
For a communication platform like Slack, the initial idea was to fuel productivity and workplace efficiency through better communication within teams.
As their brand grew, they employed several different marketing verticals and collateral such as videos, blog posts, and social media.
However, the underlying concept remained constant: to help improve productivity and workplace efficiency.
Conclusion: A Brand Narrative Is Critical To Marketing Success
Studies have shown that 92 percent of consumers expect brands to deliver “content that is linear and expresses a clear narrative.”
Moreover, messages delivered as stories can be up to 22 times more memorable than simple facts.
Storytelling can help brands build unmatched loyalty, and the sheer versatility that stories offer, make the whole deal all the better.
How will you choose to tell your brand narrative?