Content that catches attention, captivates audiences, and makes people feel emotionally engaged usually does one thing extremely well: it tells a good story.
Storytelling, or the practice of crafting a narrative to take an audience on a journey, pulls people in by sharing interesting facts, actions, and characters. We all recognize traditional storytelling as it relates to movies and books. But, storytelling isn’t reserved for fictional tales.
Brands can use storytelling too.
Branded storytelling is a powerful way to humanize your brand, attract new audiences, form deeper connections with existing audiences, and present information about your business in an interesting and engaging way.
Understand the Basics of Branded Storytelling
Classic stories need two things: characters and conflict. For branded storytelling, you need both of these elements as well as one more thing. You need to identify the role your brand will play in the story.
You need one or more characters. A good story has at least one character. This character is often referred to as the “hero.” This main character doesn’t necessarily need to be a person. It could be your brand, a tangible item, or even an idea. It just needs to be an element that the audience can follow through the story. Then, you can also add supporting characters to the story.
You need conflict. For a story to be a story, it needs to go through a beginning, middle, and end. This path is often referred to as the “hero’s journey.” To tell a story, use three steps.
- A beginning that introduces the characters and sets the stage for the story you are about to tell.
- A middle that shows the conflict. This could be a problem, obstacle, or hurdle the character or characters face.
- An end that ties up the conflict with a resolution.
You need to identify your brand’s role in the story. When a brand tells a story, they also need to add the final factor that is their brand’s role in the story. For example, your brand’s role may be obvious when the main character is your brand or one of your customers. Or, it could be more subtle such as a simple mention to your brand at the end of the story. An example of that type of storytelling is Chipotle's viral "The Scarecrow” video.
Decide What Story You Want to Tell
Now that you know what goes into a good story, it’s time to decide what type of story you want to tell about your brand. There are many ways to tie your brand into your narrative. For example, you can tell a story about:
- Who your brand is
- How your brand got its start
- How you helped a customer
- How your products or services come to life
- How you helped a charity or cause
Decide How & Where to Tell Your Story
Sometimes the concept of storytelling can trigger our minds to think about traditional stories that are told through long-form copy. That method is an option for brands, but it’s not the only way to share your story. There are many mediums you can use to tell your story.
- Video & Animation
- Social Media Stories
- Social Media Live Broadcasts
- Articles and Blog Posts
- Email Copy
With an abundance of media platforms available, there are a variety of places for you to tell your brand story.
- Your Website
- Public Relations (When you get press to share your story)
- Social Media
- In-store Digital Signage
- Medium (A popular blog publishing platform)
Tips for Branded Storytelling
When you’re ready to start telling your branded story, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Know your audience. The way you tell a story to a 4th grader would be different from the way you tell the same story to their teacher. Know your audience and their perspectives, interests, and knowledge before writing your story. Then, craft it to speak to them.
Match content length and medium. Before you dive into writing out your story, choose your medium. Knowing if your story will appear as an article on your blog, a video clip on Instagram or a video in your waiting room will tell you how long the story needs to be.
Add an emotional appeal. A good story incites some sort of feeling in the audience. Whether it’s by getting them to laugh, cry, or yell out with surprise, an emotional story is captivating, memorable, and shareable.
Use data if you have it. One way to make an otherwise dry or bland brand story (such as a story about your sales or consumer growth) more interesting is by including stats and facts that help audiences better visualize your story.
End with a call-to-action. All branded content should have a purpose that is more than to just entertain. It should be created to drive audiences, prospects, and customers to take action. So at the end of your story, include a related call-to-action that drives viewers to take a step toward further connecting with your brand.
Keep it simple! At the core of all good stories is a simple message. While there may be other actions or information that support the main concept, there is one simple story at the heart. Don’t overcomplicate things, and keep your core message in mind as you craft your story.
Add Storytelling to Your Content Calendar
Now that you see how powerful branded storytelling can be for your business, put a plan into place to create more content. Download our marketing content calendar to get ideas for where to publish and what to publish. Then, use these storytelling tips to create more compelling, interesting, and engaging content for both new and existing customers and audiences.