Image courtesy: joeannanah (Creative Commons)
The tradition of storytelling harkens back to the fledgling days of our existence. We’re programmed, wired, even, to respond significantly to any type of compellingly told story. In fact, it’s safe to say that we can’t get enough of the concept. Most of us devour books, all of us love films, and as kids, we all needed to be coaxed to sleep by the retellings of our favourite fairy-tales and fables.
It’s so logical a notion, then, that for a brand to better connect with a target market - to connect with that very ingrained love for a meaty legend dormant in each and every one of us - storytelling must be introduced into every facet, pillar and operational feature of that brand.
But, how? Well let’s pick apart what may make up the concept of ‘storytelling’ and apply this to a brand building situation:
This is the easy part, and the only way to start. Jonathan Franzen, acclaimed American novelist and storyteller, says that apart from it ‘…always being about tone…’ a good story needs to start with a compelling outline: ‘I don’t have the heart to start a piece of writing, until I know for sure there’s something there to write about,’ says Franzen.
This can apply, to an extent, to brand storytelling, too. What type of story do you want to tell? Are you certain that within your approach, a story actually exists? Outline your story premise, and build on that from the ground up. As long as you tell the truth, there should always be a seed there, to plant, water and grow.
Will it be rags to riches, how you’ve built your strategy and business approach over the years, or simply how your brand got started and a backround to what it is you do, sell or provide?
Plot your story by drawing on the compelling features about your brand. People love the underdog, the hero, a triumph over adversity, explosive success; it’s possible to take these classic story mechanics, and apply them to one into which your brand can comfortably sit.
Characters are the cogs that drive the story machine. They’re there to provide the very human factor to which listeners identify. Rich characters are vital to storytelling.
The characters in your brand story are the very people that represent your brand. Their dialogue is anything they decide to convey as professionals in your industry, whether pertaining directly to your brand, or just opinion and the sharing of industry smarts. These people, your employees, characters in themselves, need to be brought in early in the establishment of your premise, for in their communication - their dialogue, essentially - around your space, they will be the ones that appeal to the aforementioned human factor that your target market bays for.
Why are we, as sentient beings, constantly drawn to the notion of a great story? Well, the answer may lie in that very adjective: ‘sentient’. We perceive, and feel, and because of that, our insatiable desire to carry on doing so - to be involved in something bigger than ourselves - appeals to those senses and feelings and in turn increases the output of them. It makes the act of exposing ourselves to any type of tale, a very pleasurable experience.
When it comes to you writing your brand story, the human heart must be leveraged, tapped into, prodded. To do this, a large feature to your story must be highly accessible to the market you target. Let them become the omniscient voice that takes your story to the next level - and give them platform to do so.
Beth McKenna, in her article, How to Tell Your Brand's Story: Four Questions You Must Answer, says to this: ‘In addition to the best medium for the message, consider the best medium for your audience. Do they want a quick highlight with a deeper story available? Do they want to offer suggestion and opinions?’ Bringing your customers into your brand story will ensure a growth therein, powered by the enthusiasm and love your market feels for your brand. It’s a sure-fire way to bring about a ‘happily ever after’ ending to your tale.
Appealing To The Senses
Consider this: ‘Jane approached the dark square of her front door. Noticing it was open, the locking mechanism shattered and hanging like guts, she paused and reached for the gun in her purse…’
This little intro sets a scene that propels those exposed, immediately, into a situation. You have to wield such power, appeal to the senses and set your scene with deftly executed nuggets of descriptive power.
McKenna, continuing in her post, lends brief insight into how to accomplish this: ‘A combination of advertising to prep the story and Facebook to continue the dialogue might accelerate the conversation, or an inspirational photograph shared on Instagram may best illustrate who and what your company represents.’ She adds: ‘If you can capture the imagination of the audience…The reach can be tremendous.’
And the resources we now have, to use and disseminate brand story, must be seized: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, to name a few. The brand story can now reach and touch recipients in number almost uncountable using this ‘Transmedia Storytelling.’ And used correctly, and across all facets of digital media, your story will inevitably become an entity on its own. Something that can potentially live and breathe for as long as you would want it to.
The Story Is In The Content
You may have noticed a slight analogous tone to this writing. But the common thread running through – that of the comparison between building a brand story and writing a novel – must stop here. For although the concept of storytelling is the common point, both, obviously, exist in two very different means of execution.
Without the luxury of slamming a bunch of words together - with the end result, a golden tome of pages in which dwells a tale - you as author of your brand story must convey your plot with the content you put out. In it, talk about your brand, its history, your company journey, and the values and systems you uphold in everything you do. Share photos of your fledgling brand. Utilise the power of Facebook and Twitter when conveying anything to do with your story. With your content, you must tap into that nostalgia that drives straight to the heart of your human audience.
Like Apple’s ‘Beauty in Functionality’ brand story, for example, yours must be present in every single piece of content, service or product, you release for consumption. Embrace Social Media, digital trends and updates, and every platform you can, and like Beth McKenna says: ‘…Stories must be translatable across multiple channels. Story generation and the way we develop content has changed, and you must change with it.’ That in a nutshell, is the key, and the concluding prose to this little story about storytelling.
What’s your brand story, and how are you telling it? Let us know in the ‘Make a comment’ block below.
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