Think about the brands you remember the most. What makes them memorable? Probably not the overt and direct advertising. It's probably something a little more subtle, informative and emotional. You remember these brands because they connected with you, they told you a story. When marketing is aimed at increasing sales and is unapologetic about doing so, it can turn off your customers. As consumers demand more from companies, marketers need to respond by developing new and fresh strategies that not just sell a product or service, but the experience of that brand.
So how do you capture their attention? Tell them a story!
I think about the two-year-old kids I look after in Discoveryland at my church. For most of them, they'll spend five minutes with one toy and then they move on. We play a seven-minute video every Sunday morning that tells the kids a story - and it's the only time during the service where their attention is focused for a longer period of time.
So if you are looking for new and fresh ways to capture your audience's attention, read on and learn just a little bit more about telling your brand story.
A little background
Storytelling is not new. It's not a trend or fad. It's a technique that's been used for ages to pass information and connect with each other. Brand storytelling, however, has become a trendy word to describe how marketers develop relationships with their customers and create an extraordinary experience for them.
Brand storytelling goes far beyond the words, videos and images on your website, blog, podcast or social media. It's also the experience your customers have with your brand. This experience is created by everything you do and are, whether it's intentional or not.
So when you are thinking about your brand story, think about your visual brand (logo, colors, fonts, imagery), your products or services, your content and your customer service. It's important to take care in developing your story because the experience your customer has with you will be a large part of your story - and you have very little control over it
Brand storytelling techniques
Think about your brand as a whole.
Because your brand story is not just about the words you write or visuals you design, think about everything your brand represents. Think about the impression you want to leave with your customers. Imagine the reactions you want your customers to have to your products or services. Consider your history. motivation and inspiration. Let all of these things help you see the bigger picture and begin to develop the outline of your story.
Let your customers tell your story.
Do you have a bunch of testimonials you can post on your website and social media? Use them. Nothing is more powerful that word-of-mouth. If your customers are singing your praises, use that to elevate your brand story.
Are there negative reviews on Facebook or Yelp? Respond to them. Again, nothing is more powerful than word-of-mouth. If your customers are telling you that something isn't quite right, listen and respond appropriately.
Share more. Sell less.
Brands that ask you to buy, download or contact ALL THE TIME are annoying. You probably know (and have unfollowed) a few of those companies. Brands that share their history, employees, community involvement, triumphs, failures and lessons are not only more memorable but relatable, too.
You can, of course, sell your products or services, but when you are planning your content calendar, include more content that shares, inspires, empowers or educates than sells. My favourite example is from Gary Vaynerchuk who says that your content should follow a jab, jab, jab, right hook sequence. (He wrote a whole book on it.) For those of you who are unfamiliar with boxing terms, this means that out of every four posts, three are to educate and one is to sell.
Here's an example of what that looks like:
Post 1: Introduce yourself.
Post 2: Post a picture of your workspace.
Post 3: Post your favorite quote.
Post 4: Post a photo of your product.
Be real. You are human after all.
Customers are intuitive. They know when a brand is not being authentic and simply peddling for sales. Keeping your story real, transparent and authentic is important to telling a compelling brand story. Imagine you are sitting across from your customer enjoying a good cup of coffee and having a conversation. What would you say? How would you say it? Tell your story in a way that remains true to who you are and what your customer needs.
People remember visuals very well. When you hear a piece of information, you will likely retain 10% of it. However, when you pair that information with a visual, you will likely remember 65% of it. Use compelling photos, infographics, videos, illustrations, cartoons or whatever else you can think of.
Include a struggle.
Every good story has a struggle, something for your protagonist to fight through and conquer. In your brand story, your customer is your protagonist. He or she is already facing a challenge. Your story can help you talk about how you can help them through their challenge. Make them the hero of your story. You are merely there to help them emerge victoriously.
Don't overthink it.
Telling stories is natural for us. Think about why you started and why you do what you do every day. Forget about marketing and think about connecting.
Are you ready to tell your brand story?