How storytelling can take your brand to the next level

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Storytelling is a mode of communication humans have employed for hundreds of thousands of years. We are used to retaining and relating to stories and are more likely to emotionally connect to content if it’s told in the form of a story. 

Storytelling can be a useful component of your brand strategy as it can help your brand to stand out and encourage your target audience to form a personal connection with your brand. Forming a relationship in this way is important – the liking principle suggests that we are much more likely to listen to someone if we have a relationship with them. 

When done right, storytelling can humanise your brand and establish a deeper and more meaningful relationship with your audience. There are a million different ways of doing this, but we’ve put together four tips and examples to help you get started. 

 

1.      Understand your audience

To tell the best kind of stories, brands need to understand what their audience is interested in. Evaluating the attitudes, media diet and beliefs of a particular audience assists brands to create stories their ideal consumers will relate to and want to consume. 

Part of Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ campaign was an ad called ‘Onslaught’ which portrayed how young girls are bombarded with negative messaging about body image from a young age. The campaign found success because Dove found that a significant part of their audience were protective mothers and calibrated their storytelling campaign to appeal to that demographic.   

 

2.     Be authentic

The story we tell about a brand can’t just be all about the intended audience. Brand stories have to authentically represent the brand’s identity rather than solely trying to mould the brand to an audience’s desires. 

This requires a thorough understanding of where a brand sits in the marketplace and exactly what the selling points are. Is it a family business? Is it an innovator? Is it environmentally conscious, impeccably designed or more novelty based?  

Apple is one of the most prominent examples of how this is executed well, dating all the way back to their 1984 ad campaign. The narrative this campaign presents is clear: Apple is a disruptive brand providing its consumers with freedom. The messaging of this ad was so successful Apple sold around $3.5 million worth of computers immediately after the campaign’s launch.  

 

3.     Create an emotional connection

Part of the point of telling a story about a brand is to build an emotional relationship with its audience. By creating positive sentiment towards a brand, its audience is much less likely to consider competitors

However, it’s not necessarily just about positive emotion. Depending on the message a brand wishes to promote, it may want to encourage sadness, disgust, anger, amusement or excitement in its viewers.  

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) experienced a $30 million boost in their fundraising as a direct result of their campaign with singer Sarah McLachlan, which aimed both to raise the organisation’s public profile and encourage people to adopt animals from shelters. The ad featured her singing her ballad ‘Angel’ over images of mournful looking cats and dogs. 

Aside from the financial gain, the ad turned ‘Angel’ into a meme because of the pity and sadness the campaign inspired in its viewers. The strength of the emotions generated by the campaign meant its message was seared into the public’s consciousness, both achieving the ASPCA’s objective and resonating through memes in a way they didn’t anticipate. 

 

4.     Be consistent

A well crafted brand story can be carried through many elements of a brand’s marketing. If the story connects with your audience well enough, you can continue to adapt and tell that story indefinitely. 

One example of this is how Mars have been telling stories about the M&M’s brand through their M&M characters since the early 90s. The anthropomorphised wisecracking M&Ms, particularly the red and yellow M&M, are immediately recognisable figures in popular culture.  

Mars campaigns have evolved since the 90s, adding new characters while maintaining the characterisation and aesthetic style of the main M&Ms. The longevity of the characters in M&M’s marketing is a testament to how they’ve connected with the public, to the point where when Mars temporarily removed them from their campaigns, fans began asking where they had gone

 

Want help telling your brand’s story? Get in touch with us at Anouska & Co. 

Emma Bartlett