Brand storytelling is a critical tool in your marketing toolbox, especially in today’s crowded digital world.
More people spend time on the internet, yet researchers say that the average attention span is roughly 8 seconds. So how do you get your audience to engage with your brand content long enough to get to know you? Ultimately, you want your customers to trust you and your brand, find value in your services or products and make a purchase. For this, you need more than an 8-minute attention span.
Short on time? Enjoy our video overview.
Everyone Loves a Good Story
Storytelling is a powerful way to grab a person’s attention and keep them with you long enough to develop relationships. Stories intrigue, emote emotions, spawn ideas, and build communities. Of course, you should employ brand storytelling in the nondigital world too. Still, since this blog is primarily about digital marketing and small business success, we’ll stick with the online world.
Think about it, when you want to get to know someone, you’re not interested only in what they do for a living. Instead, you want to know
- who this person is?
- where did they grow up?
- do they have a family?
- what do they do for fun?
What are their passions and goals in life—you want to connect on a deep level.
It’s the same with your business. You want your consumers to connect with your brand on a deep, personal level and become life-long customers.
Storytelling helps shape your image in the minds of your consumer audience, so they trust your brand and want to use your services or buy your products.
When you build this depth of connection, you’ll not only have long-term consumers, but you’ll create a strong team of brand ambassadors. Word-of-mouth marketing is still the best way to spread your brand message. But, inspired by your stories, your brand ambassadors will be eager to share their passion for your business with their family and friends—a low-cost and highly effective way to expand your marketing reach.
What is Brand Storytelling?
Storytelling is not your logo or business timeline, nor a description of your products or services. Brand storytelling is also not your business brochure or business plan. Instead, it’s a way to define your brand through the art of narrative and visuals.
Powerful stories will stop your readers in their tracks, emote emotions, and make your brand memorable.
Use storytelling to share your brand’s purpose, vision, and mission. And what you do, how you do it, and your products and services. But with brand storytelling, when you talk about your products and services, you talk in story form rather than a simple description.
Your stories need to be authentic, though. Consumers are very savvy, and if they find out you’ve been deceptive, you’ll lose their trust. Be careful of exaggerations. As we’ve written previously, word-of-mouth marketing is still the best way to grow your brand. You want to be sure those mouths are saying positive things about you and your business.
Research Proves The Effectiveness of Storytelling
In his book, Descartes’ Error, Antonio Damasio writes that “emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions.”
According to Psychology Today, “consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts) when making purchasing decisions.
Studies show that positive emotions toward a brand have a far greater influence on consumer loyalty than trust and other judgments based on a brand’s attributes.
“The richer the emotional content of a brand’s mental representation, the more likely the consumer will be a loyal user.” Psychology Today
“When people listen to pitches, either containing facts and figures or a story, only 5% recalled a statistic, while 63% remembered the stories.” Stanford Graduate School of Business
Jerome Bruner, a cognitive psychologist, says, “stories are 22 times more memorable than facts alone.”
According to Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, on average, we engage in roughly 100 daydreams per hour. But, when we are immersed in a great story, we don’t daydream.
When you make brand storytelling a part of your content marketing, your audience will remember who you are. As a result, you’ll develop an advantage over your competitors and secure uninterrupted attention in a marketplace filled with billions of data bits.
Inspiring Examples of Brand Storytelling
Businesses need to “create narratives that are so compelling to consumers, that they want to build your products into their lives.” Danielle Snyder, co-founder of Dannijo
Danielle and her sister Jodie founded Dannijo, a jewelry business, in 2008. Incredible storytelling and a great product line helped them acquire more than 200,000 Instagram followers and capture the attention of celebrities, including Rihanna and Beyonce. They consistently post inspiring videos that feature them, their team, and customers. In addition, their “About” page on their website provides an engaging background on the company’s founders and features their purpose-driven mission.
How Airbnb Uses Brand Storytelling
When thinking about brand storytelling, Airbnb is probably one business that comes to mind. Airbnb’s mission was to empower people worldwide to improve their economic situation by renting out rooms or parts of their homes. They created an online marketplace for homeowners to use to market their properties. Sharing experiences has been a mainstay of the brand’s marketing strategy. Airbnb has grown tremendously and today includes upscale properties such as hotels, castles, and mansions. But it continues to be a significant player in the gig economy. Airbnb lets its customers do their brand storytelling. “Stories from the Airbnb Community” plays a feature role on their website.
The inspiration for Warby Parker was practical—one of its founders lost his glasses while backpacking. He didn’t have the money to replace them and spent the first year of grad school struggling to see. He discovered that others in their social network dealt with the same issue—eyeglass frames were too expensive on a student budget. Warby Parker’s founders took on the mission of changing this reality by designing eyewear in-house, engaging with customers directly, to provide higher-quality eyeglasses for a fraction of the market price.
Warby Parker incorporates brand storytelling in all of its collaterals, from its website site copy, brand videos, and social media posts to its annual report. Of course, product details are provided; however, the focus is on their customers, values, brand culture, and production.
For example, their How Our Glasses Are Made video tells the story of the people who hand-make their frames. This video airs on YouTube, but you can easily create bite-size videos for Instagram and Facebook.
Warby also created a vibrant brand community of customers who share their experiences with eyewear and life. It’s the kind of video storytelling that will keep your website visitors intrigued. Front and center also is Warby Parker’s brand purpose of donating glasses to those in need. Customers know that their purchase has a global impact.
Land Rover Keeps Website Visitors Engaged With Its Brand Storytelling Video
Land Rover celebrated its 70th anniversary with a feature video filmed in the Himalayas. The video shows the villagers of Maneybhanjang driving the treacherous route to Sandakphu in a fleet of Land Rovers from 1957. A story like this will keep your audience glued to your website and leave a lasting brand memory.
But don’t be intimidated by the big brands, especially tech giants. You can be a small jewelry store, independent artist, author, or a small clothing retailer. And you don’t need a professional film company and Spielberg crew. You can create a compelling storytelling video with your smartphone or video camera. Take advantage of the many online video editing platforms that will help you polish off your video story.
There are creative, compelling and, simple ways to use brand storytelling to compete in the crowded online marketplace to grow your business.
How to Use Brand Storytelling to Grow Your Business
Use stories to tell your consumer audience how you came to launch your business. Share with them your journey from first opening your doors or online site to the present.
Through storytelling, you can explain how your product or service helps people improve their lives. Make your stories emotive and personable with real-life people. For example, let’s say you make a product such as jewelry or art. These products also improve people’s lives by bringing joy, self-confidence, or perhaps an opportunity to give a gift to someone special in their lives.
You can use narrative but include your customer journeys too. Invite them to share how your product or service impacted their lives.
Make your story visually compelling; this is what will capture your audience’s attention. Research shows that the human brain processes images 60,000 faster than text. And, in a crowded digital world and short attention span, you need visuals.
Turn your stories into a serial format to keep your audience coming back for more.
When you use text-based brand storytelling—you need a great intro, a hook to get their attention and keep them glued to the end of the story. Think about your favorite books and about those you put down after the first few pages.
You Need a Brand Storytelling Strategy
Before you launch your marketing campaign, there are several things you need to do:
- Establish your goals and objectives
- Identify your target audience.
Compelling storytelling requires something similar.
- What’s the purpose of your story?
- Who is the audience?
Writing your brand story requires many of the same techniques that you would use when writing a book or short story. Ask yourself:
- Who is the narrator?
- Why are you telling this story?
- Who are the characters in the story?
- Where does the story take place? Is it current or historical?
- What are the characters in your story trying to achieve?
Brand storytelling is an ongoing process. Collect stories from employees, customers, and anyone else who has had contact with your brand. These stories can be from when you first launched your small business to the present day. Adding a community page on your website makes it easier to collect consumer stories for your website audience.
- Today’s most popular social platforms are perfect for visual storytelling. Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are among the most popular social media channels today.
- Brand storytelling humanizes your small business and inspires your consumer audience to take action.
- Get to know your customers, ask them to share their stories and memories of your small business, ask them to post their stories on their social channels.
- Be sure to keep your stories authentic and relevant to your product or service.
- Remember, with an 8-second attention span, storytelling is one of the most compelling ways to break through the chatter and grow brand visibility.
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