Once Upon A Brand Story

Brand storytelling is no longer an optional extra


Today, brands are either too focused on trying to profit from their business or are constantly vying with their competitors. As the industry sees a proliferation of new entrants, the fight to stand out from the crowd becomes more challenging and often requires brands to rethink their marketing strategies. In a saturated marketplace, one needs to take action to separate themselves from competitors.

One such method would be through brand storytelling. If done right, it makes an impactful difference to your brand.

Once upon a time

Every brand has their own unique story. These are some questions one can ask when formulating an experience or even a story to their stakeholders:

- How did the brand come about?

- What do you want your consumers to experience when engaging with your brand?

- What is your brand personality and culture?

- What are the values that the brand believes in?

- Who are the people working behind the brand?

Present day consumers care about the brand and its culture more than you think. Consumers, especially millennials, are always on the lookout for a good story in order to share their experience. If organizations can take advantage of this fact, it is easier for brands to reach out and engage a wider audience. Think social media and the need to engage online.

When Coca-Cola first started its ‘Share-A-Coke’ campaign in Australia in 2012, it was aiming to reach out to young adults in the country on a more personal level. They printed labels and redesigned their cans with “popular” names, such as ‘Daniel’ and ‘Samantha’; it encouraged consumers to share the Coca-Cola experience with friends and family. Consumers could also share their experiences and stories on social media with the hashtag #ShareACoke. The result: the campaign was adopted in over 70 countries.

The human-to-human connection

Brand storytelling is showcasing what your brand is, beyond its offerings. It is brand culture in content marketing terms and it is more than just B2B or B2C marketing. It is the human-to-human connection, and NOT just about selling your products.

That is what makes brand storytelling different from the usual content marketing. Keep this in mind whilst constructing the brand’s story. The key is to share rather than to sell. With that being said, knowing who your target audiences are keeps your story personalized and relevant. This will not only help brands to build relationships with the consumers, but also elevate their experiences when they actually purchase your products.

The human-to-human connection also requires brands to showcase the values that they believe in, and at the same time, provide consumers a peek into the brand’s culture and allow them to decide whether they want to be part of that community. People respect good values and good culture, and if your brand is able to capture the right elements, it gives you an edge over your competitors.

Emotion is energy in motion

Emotions are a key ingredient to your storytelling recipe. Imagine watching a boring video advertisement on YouTube, only to realize the video does not have a ‘Skip Ad’ button. You’ll probably be walking off to the kitchen to grab a cup of water or be looking at the bottom right of the video counting down impatiently. The same applies to communicating your story; a bored audience does not translate to a brand advocate.

This applies to marketers who are marketing their products. Products can carry a story with an emotional value. When your consumers buy your product, he/she is not buying the object but the experience behind it. There are many tools and tactics in which marketers can create their brand’s story by tugging the emotional heartstrings. A great example would be SK-II’s ‘leftover women’ campaign.

In China, women face high pressure to marry before the age of 27. Failure to do so will result in them being labeled as 'sheng nu' or 'leftover women'. Places such as marriage markets are common in China, where parents of these women would advertise their daughters in the hope of getting a match. The ad was meant to reach out and empower women facing the traditional pressures of society.

Good storytelling is not about selling. A good story makes your brand memorable. When you become memorable, your customers will eventually become your brand advocate. Rise above the noise, build connections and create engagement. Give your brand a voice. Take heed from Dan Widen, who coined Nike’s ‘Just do it’ tagline: ‘Nike didn’t discover the power of advertising, Nike discovered the power of their own voice’.

What is your brand story? I would love to hear yours in the comments section below!

If you are interested in storytelling, digital marketing, and all things strategy, join a host of experts at the Digital Marketing and Strategy Innovation Summit, taking place in Shanghai on the 6th-7th September. See you there!


Image: Jeroenbfoto / Shutterstock.com

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