Brand Storytelling. What is it and why do we need it?

By Greg Forster

Brand storytelling; what is it and why do we need it?

Haven’t we always needed it or is it now more important then ever? Thanks to the evolution of video and social media, we can no longer sit idly by and watch our competitors take that huge leap into the video abyss.

 Images and text alone won’t cut it anymore thanks to our changing digital lifestyles.

And if you’re dealing with the digital natives, those born in the digital age of computers, the Internet and social media, they ‘re only interested in video style content. Just for the record, us older generation born before this time period are known as digital immigrants. Yep, that’s right.

You see, an image can stand alone. It requires no audio, no accompanying images and no in captions.

Yet, a video snippet on its own has very little meaning. It doesn’t convey your message, requires audio and thanks to the fast flowing and silent watching social platforms of Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, etc, requires captions.

So if video requires so much effort compared to a still image, why bother with video? Why? Because the very platforms we utilise to advertise our brands and businesses on are steering their preferences to video as their main subject matter.

Therefore, if we don’t want to be left behind, we need to embrace video as a major part of our marketing plan going forward.

Now, if we’re going to put our hard-earned time and dollars behind this marketing juggernaut, we best have ourselves a strategy going forward so we don’t waste that precious time and earned money.

The backbone of any good strategy is a funnel designed to take your customer on a journey from emotional establishment with your brand through to rational purchase.

Afterall, they’re here for them, not you. They’re looking for something, a solution to a problem they have and, if conducted right, you can solve their problem for them without them feeling like they’re being sold to.  

The first part of any strong sales funnel is brand awareness. What’s brand awareness I hear you ask? It’s where we introduce your brand or business to your potential customer.

Now, remember, they’re here for them, not you so at this stage, they don’t care about your business. Harsh but true.

These potential customers are running in a fast-paced world, overdosing on information and very short on time. They’re skimming through content on the “lean forward” platforms only occasionally pausing when something grabs their attention. If you want to hold that fleeting attention, you better have something good!

How about a story? We all love a good story. Something with a hero, problem which opens a loop in the brain and a closure thanks to your brand at the end. Attention grabbed! This is brand awareness. They are now aware of your brand and curious to find out more.

 

Ok, that sounds fine, let’s create a brand story……where do I start?

Well, let’s define what a brand awareness story isn’t first. It’s not a slogan or a logo, it’s not a fancy corporate video or commercial advertising your product or service. It’s not your vision statement or your purpose either.

It’s about solving problems for people and doing it on a P to P level. P to P?! Person to person. Whether it’s B to B or B to C, in the end they’re all people and it’s a person who is searching for the answers you might just have. It could be a sole trader or a marketing manager of a major company, in the end, it’s that person who is seeking solutions to their problems.

Let’s break down our story creating process. Let’s start with the 3 Cs. Collect, Communicate and Create.

  1. The “collect” process is about finding the stories from within our business. This could reach back as far as how and why we started doing what we do.

Remember, people don’t buy what we do, they buy why we do it. Simon Sinek explains this reasoning in an excellent Ted Talk on YouTube.

Your stories could also be collected from current client stories and how you’ve helped solve their problems. Collect these gems and store them for when required.

  1. Next comes the “communicate” process of deciding where to post these stories. What platforms do your customers spend their most time on.

This process can be evaluated through an in-depth look into who you’re marketing to. Really go into detail with this process and get a clear vision of who your ideal avatar is. Give them a personality to the point of naming them and pin it to your wall. It’ll help you develop precise stories for your customer.

  1. And finally, we “create” our story aimed squarely at our new best friend, our avatar. If we create stories with them in mind, they will be concise, engaging and deliver our message on point.

Remember I said our potential customers are living in a fast-paced world? They look for convenience and quick solutions.

Their thumb is scrolling through the multitude of online videos we often see as white visual noise.

Current stats show we have 3 seconds in today’s fast paced climate to stop that thumb from revolving and grab their attention. Have you timed three seconds? It sounds short but you’d be amazed what the mind’s eye sees in those few moments.

Enough time for you to take a bite from your story. The highlight of your story to be precise. An image that causes them to stop and want to see what that was all about.

Now that you have their attention, it’s time to touch base with their problem, the pain, the lingering question. You’re reaching out to them on an emotional level here so no sales pitch, just relating to their pain.

You are reaching out to them to say I understand your pain and what you are looking for.

By telling your stories with the customer in mind, you establish the pain followed by the solution. Now they can relate to you and see you as a positive influence.

Now you are seen as the trusted answer to their problem and, with a soft call to action, can take them further down the funnel on the path to a rational sale.

What about the length of a story? How long is a piece of string? It’s not quite that extravagant as we have some basic measurements to work off.

This comes down to what platform you’re wanting to post on. As mentioned previously, what platforms does your customer spend their time on?

Your story may be long and can therefore be utilised as a vlog on your YouTube page as well as blog on your website.

From here, take bite sized teasers to post on the various platforms keeping in mind their formats and time lengths. Link back to the main story for them to follow.

So to reiterate as to why we need brand stories more than ever now, video rules our digital world and research shows stories impact us 22 times more than facts.

Let’s start creating stories for brand and deliver solutions to your customers. They’re out there, they just need to see you.