Imagine you’re walking your dog in the forest one early morning and a person randomly runs up to you and says, “Hey! I’m a successful business owner, I make a lot of money, my products sell far and wide and you should call me today because my products are awesome!” You’ll probably be a little confused, perhaps even alarmed and annoyed at him for disturbing your morning peace. He’d be lucky to receive that call from you. Though you’re most likely to go about your day without giving this guy a second thought.
Now imagine the same when you’re listening to the radio while driving and your song’s abruptly interrupted by an advertisement. It’s a brand screaming at you about how awesome they are and how they can make your life awesome too. Well, just like that person in the forest, this brand’s probably never going to hear from you either.
Come to think about it, companies invest so many resources in lavish marketing strategies to boost their brand image. But how often do they really make a connection with their customers?
How likely are people to actually develop any curiosity in hollow, bombastic ads about a brand’s products? How regularly do they open and read promotional emails? How often are brand ads clicked when they’re flashing all over a page?
In branding pioneer Walter Landor’s words,
“Products are made in a factory but brands are created in the mind.”
Maybe it’s time that brands stopped bothering people with intrusive, genie-like appearances to sell their products. Instead, companies need to focus more on actually establishing a bond with people by including them in their brand journey – piece by piece, thoughtfully designed with emotions, empathy, purpose and meaning. One way to achieve this is through good, old storytelling.
How compelling storytelling can give your brand its much-needed spotlight
Stories are an integral part of our lives right from childhood. Values, virtues, morals, and emotions are wonderfully taught to children through creative, imaginative stories.
We remember childhood stories even as adults because great stories always leave an imprint on our minds. We are inherently more interested in this form of communication, with a storyline developing, building up the atmosphere and setting the stage for the impactful climax and ending.
Good storytelling can be a powerful tool, not only to mould the image of your brand but also to give it a purpose and meaning. It should want to make a difference in the lives of the people who wish to connect with it.
Besides, people are naturally drawn towards reading or watching something entertaining, and impactful rather than knowing brand statistics and boasts in the form of lists and intrusive, interrupting commercials.
(Image source: Suzy Hazelwood von Pexels)
To grow into the hearts and minds of your customers, open up your brand story to them. What’s a brand story? It’s how your brand came to be – from concept to creation. It’s a way to give people an insight into your brand, its values, its foundations, its highs and lows. It’s essentially a glimpse into the history of your brand.
A step further along this direction is brand storytelling. Instead of only describing your brand’s inception, brand storytelling goes on to highlight the core values of your company.
Brand storytelling unfolds the company’s principles across all customer touchpoints. Moreover, as stories unravel, they forge an emotional connection between brands and consumers.
Let’s explore a few effective approaches to compelling brand storytelling.
Narrate your company’s values and visions in all their honesty
Brands are like the gateway to your company’s identity because they represent the values and promises you stand for. When brands uphold such a huge responsibility, it is important to commit to your brand – a commitment to be credible, reliable, and creative. A commitment also to meaningfully connect with your customers.
Just as brands represent your products, they must also represent your vision. For example, Clever Pasta’s healthy pasta is not just about the product itself, but more so about offering people a choice for healthier meals. Their brand represents the purpose to easily integrate delicious, healthier alternatives of pasta into people’s busy lifestyles. It’s this meaningful purpose that then strikes a chord with its audience.
Opening up the story of your brand allows customers to be a part of your brand journey. It’s the values and purposes of your brand that shape the character of your company. So communicating them to your customers honestly is the real goal here.
By sharing a message that resonates with people so deeply, brands might eventually not even need to market their actual products.
But be careful, because customers are also likely to turn away from brands that speak highly of themselves but deliver something mediocre. Imagine companies that exaggeratedly market their claim to adopt ethical production but in reality, only a fraction of their products are ethically sourced. This leaves customers feeling deceived by dishonest claims.
Embrace creativity and imagination
A good story should essentially release dopamine – the pleasure drug that helps us in remembering the memories saved in our brain in relation to the emotions of the story. While our reactions to different stories is a relatively personal experience, how a story is delivered to us, also affects us on an individual level.
For example, some stories may trigger fond childhood memories, while some stories can make us feel nostalgic about a time in our lives that we would like to reconnect with.
Nostalgia and other such powerful emotions can be crucial gateways into the minds of your customers. Find such gateways by monitoring people’s reactions to your brand story. What is it about your brand that truly sparks curiosity in your audience’s mind?
Perhaps your story can offer people an experience that they want to relive. Perhaps it shares a common cause with specific audiences. Maybe it gives them a reason to feel confident about themselves. It can probably also have the power to inspire, educate and empower your audience.
By embracing creativity and imagination, storytelling can instantly transform drab market numbers into meaningful leads and eventually increased customer loyalty.
“If you don’t give the market the story to talk about, they’ll define your brand’s story for you.”
– David Brier, Brand Intervention
As brand storytellers, we want to excite our audience and guide them through our journey. Stories make us believe in ideas, opinions, and beliefs. That’s why good stories sell!
With social media platforms opening up the dialogue between brands and buyers, brands need a very good reason to stand apart and shine. Your brand story needs to be captivating so your followers always have something good to say.
People increasingly crave genuine connections with their brands. That’s why they also want to be a part of the journey. It’s just part of human nature to be included in something big. So why not use this natural impulse when we sell to people. Storytelling itself plays a big part in how we correlate with one other.
If your story stirs a response – any response – it can quickly turn into a topic of discussion in the open community. People get a chance to express their personal views. Remember that their opinions about your story will always be connected to your brand.
That being said, it’s good to be sure of the emotions you want to shape so you can influence how people receive your story.
Cultivate empathy to entice stronger emotions
Developing empathy is crucial for establishing relationships. Similarly, when brands empathise with their customers’ pain points, people are more likely to be drawn towards them.
Just like in a novel, the author crafts the tale to bring the readers into the minds and lives of the story’s characters. It’s a journey that the readers take as the characters develop through the narrative. The writer has the power to create strong opinions about any of the characters and weave the narrative to evoke distinct emotions in the readers’ minds.
Similarly, brand stories become compelling when they thoroughly involve the customers in their narratives. Determine the theme of your storyline. Who are the characters of your story? What’s their story, their background? What are the complexities and hardships that they’re facing?
Using these elements, develop a narrative about your brand which engulfs your audience. Let them live your character’s experiences by taking them along the journey.
Connect the links
Powerful storytelling can greatly influence empathy. And again, empathy is an important building block to a sustainable relationship between your brand and your customers. It can persuade the audience to believe in an idea, a cause and can influence them to buy a product or service. It makes them believe that they too are a part of something bigger.
Branding and marketing are all but forms of storytelling that have to be rejuvenated and refreshed from time to time. After all, they tell the story of a company and communicate much more than a catalogue of products and services offered by the company.
Compelling brand stories take something ordinary and turn them into something extraordinary. So strengthen this art by maintaining the human element of your brand in every section of your brand story. Encourage everyone connected with your brand story to participate in its creation, guided by their understanding of the core values of your brand.
One thing is for certain, today’s crowded environment means people are more distracted than ever. This is irrespective of the industry you’re placed in. That is why to keep your customers coming back to you, your brand can attract their attention with your story. The more compelling the story, the stronger and more long-lasting will your relationship with them be.
Our team at izz.ai is inspired to extend this connection between human beings and brand stories. Like filmmakers and authors, we are drawn to experiences that connect us as human beings. Our company’s core values, shaped by our experiences, backgrounds and diversity are deeply rooted in creating strong life-long relationships with our partners.
Why not write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your story. We’d love to support you to make your brand truly unforgettable.