By: Erin Joo
Storytelling is an asset that brands can utilize to differentiate itself from its competitors. How can a brand stand out through all the clutter and noise? Why will a consumer choose your brand over the similar brand sitting right next to it on the shelf? Purchase decisions between products of identical quality and price can be swayed by effective storytelling. The ultimate goal of storytelling is to elicit emotion from the audience. When an emotional connection between a brand and consumer is created, it influences decision-making. In order to ensure this connection, a brand’s stories must be consistent, authentic, and relevant to the consumer.
In a well-known Ted Talk, bestselling author, Simon Sinek, describes a concept he calls the “Golden Circle“. This concept explains why companies with the same resources can have two very different fates: success or failure. The Golden Circle starts with the “why” which is the core belief of the business and why the business exists. The next layer is the “how” and elaborates on how the business fulfills that core belief. Lastly, the “what” is what the company does to fulfill that core belief. The common marketing mistake made by the companies that inevitably fail? The company starts with the “what” and ends with the “why”. Another mistake is for a company to not understand or know the “why” of the business (BIG problem). Consumers prioritize why a company does what it does which is the reason this needs to be the center of everything.
The next question is: what story should a brand tell? “A story is not just your history. A story is why you’re doing what you’re doing, and telling it in a way that appeals to your audience.” Brands can’t talk the talk without also walking the walk. A story cannot simply be a piece of social media content, it must also be integrated into the mission and value of a brand. There are three essential elements to storytelling: characters, conflict, and resolution. The characters should resonate with the target market so that they can see themselves as the character. Consumers will identify with characters which translates into identifying with the brand. Characters must be carefully chosen so that they personify the brand’s values and act as an extension of the brand as well. Next, conflict is important for building developmental and emotional dynamics. Finally, the resolution acts as a call of action to the audience and fulfills the purpose behind the story. Keep in mind that the story needs to be clear and concise so that messaging and purpose is not lost in translation.
It is also important to format the story visualization to the platform it’s being debuted on. This includes character count, image size, video size, video length, captions or no captions, etc. As we all know, social media platforms are not created equally. What works on Instagram will not work in the same way on Twitter. Variations of the same story may need to be made for different platforms. Although the content format is not exactly the same, the message and story itself remains consistent throughout. As I mentioned earlier, maintaining consistency is key to maximizing the impact of the story.
Now that I’ve spent all this time talking about the power of storytelling, what examples exist of this happening in the real-world? As we all know, storytelling is widespread among brand marketing today. So, who is doing it well? No surprise here. Nike. The three elements of this story are female athletes (character), gender inequality (conflict), and empowering females to break the mold and just do it even if it’s “crazy” (resolution). Let’s remember why Nike does what is does. Nike’s mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.” After watching this video, do you think Nike told the right story?
LinkedIn: Erin Joo