Content marketing is a valuable tool for marketers and businesses who want to improve their brand reach and engage with an audience. One important use for content is in brand storytelling. The human brain is wired to engage with stories. In fact, research reveals that stories are 22 times more memorable than straight facts. By using brand storytelling content marketing it’s possible to make your business stand out in a truly memorable way.
Brand Storytelling Defined
In simple terms, brand storytelling content marketing is the art of developing a narrative about your company that makes it easier for customers to relate to who you are and what you do. It’s a way of encouraging engagement on an emotional level, so customers see dealing with you as not only a good choice from a practical point of view, but also the “right” choice. Brand storytelling involves:
- Defining who you are: This is about letting your potential customers know the person behind the business. Why did you start your business? How did you start your business? What challenges have you overcome? Your story helps people understand what drives you to do what you do, and therefore helps them understand why they should support you.
- Defining what you do: What you do isn’t what you make. You don’t make clothes — you provide freedom of expression. You don’t make gym equipment — you support athletic achievements. You don’t hire out vacation rentals — you help families come together to create memories that last a lifetime.
- Defining your core values: Your core values explain why you do what you do. They’re the things that determine how your business operates and what goals you hope to achieve, such as green energy, sustainable resources, helping people to live healthier lives, encouraging an adventurous attitude, or having fun. Having defined your core values, you also need to align those values with those of your potential customers in a way they connect with.
Brand storytelling takes all of these elements and creates a compelling narrative. The story makes it easier for potential customers to remember who you are and what you do, and also makes it easier for those people to understand why your company is in the best position to fulfill their emotional needs.
The Benefits of Brand Storytelling
Brand storytelling is an opportunity to humanize your business, transforming it from a faceless company into something that resonates with audiences and generates an emotional response. When you share your motivations, dreams, and aspirations with potential customers, you share new ways for them to engage with your brand and new reasons for them to support your endeavors.
Research by Harvard Business Review suggests that successful businesses don’t just provide customer satisfaction — they connect with customers emotionally. Through brand storytelling content marketing it’s possible for you to make customers feel like they are part of a special group of people, tapping into their desire to feel like they belong. Emotionally invested customers are more likely to buy more of your products, visit your website frequently, trust your brand, follow your advice, and pay more attention to your content. In fact, they are potentially more than twice as valuable as customers who are merely satisfied with your level of service.
How to Develop Your Brand Story
There are many successful brand storytellers, and some of the biggest companies in the world artfully employ narratives in their marketing, such as McDonalds, Apple, and Samsung. A compelling brand doesn’t appear overnight, but by carefully constructing the elements of your story it’s possible to become a more engaging prospect for customers.
1. Understand Your Customers
It’s impossible to engage with customers before you know them. Put yourself in their shoes, and try to understand the challenges they face so that you’re in a position to frame your story to answer those challenges. Most importantly, make your story customer-centric. They are the heroes in their own stories, and you’re just helping them to live their best lives. In other words, don’t advertise your product as something that changes someone’s life; advertise it as a product that helps them to change it for themselves.
2. Humanize Your Brand
Give your brand a face. Humans find it easier to engage with a person than a company, so post pictures of your staff, and let staff members share personal stories on your blog. Keep in mind that, on Instagram, photographs featuring faces perform up to 40 percent better than photographs without faces.
3. Be More Than What You Do
It’s important to give customers a compelling reason to purchase from you. Competition is fierce, and thanks to the internet and handheld devices it’s incredibly easy for people to find what they need. If they have several purchasing options, you need to give them a value-based, emotional reason why they should turn to you. For example, the ice cream manufacturer Ben & Jerry’s puts a heavy focus on a commitment to improving quality of life and providing the framework for a supportive “family” of suppliers and customers.
4. Share Customer Stories
User-created content is an incredibly powerful tool to utilize as part of your marketing. Customer reviews, videos, and endorsements are more authentic, and therefore potential customers are more likely to trust them. User content also showcases how your products enhance the lives of others, making the customers the focus of your advertising. For example, Go Pro, the manufacturer of wearable cameras, encourages customers to share their thrill-packed videos (and even runs competitions to find the best ones) as a way to emphasize how tech enables people to capture their lives on camera in a way that makes them the heroes in their own stories.
5. Be Honest
This is the most important thing. Your story needs to be authentic. Sometimes that means talking about your failures. People love an underdog story, or the tale of someone on the ropes who turned his or her fortunes around. Be real and open, and customers will gravitate to you.
Final Thought: The Story Begins
Storytelling is an art form as old as the spoken word, and humans are hard-wired to understand and appreciate a gripping yarn. It’s possible to use stories and their potential to captivate the imagination as a way to engage audiences and make a brand more memorable. Developing your own brand of storytelling content marketing could be the first chapter in improving your company’s overall performance.