Brands, today, are using storytelling as the foundation of successful business communications.
Human beings have always told stories. Even before we read or wrote, we trusted storytelling to pass on information. The written medium may be old, but the stories handed down from our ancestors are older.
Marketers today are seeking to effectively use the medium of storytelling to drive business communications. They are driven by the core objectives of standing out in their industry, nurturing relationships with their customers and, of course, generating sales and RFPs. It is those who realise the importance of good storytelling that is able to build brands that become empires.
Storytelling doesn't limit itself to text – it can be conveyed in the form of visuals and videos as well. Stories also don't have to follow the traditional format of a beginning, middle and an end. They don’t always have to be linear. One must simply pick a format and medium that best suits their intended audience and outcome.
Storytelling offers different challenges based on the subject of the story – in this case, the product or service. Establishing a consumer connect for B2C products is not the same as storytelling for a B2B product or a complex technological product. In each of these cases, marketers must seek to offer consumers an expression of reality supported by a well-crafted narrative. For effective brand recall, these are some important practices that brands need to emulate:
Mapping your client’s journey
Putting clients at the heart of what you do should be the foundation of every company’s ethos. However, this can only be effectively done after you have a clear understanding of who your client is. An understanding of the client’s business goals, culture, messaging and budgets is crucial to the process. Companies can then tailor messaging to optimise their communication efforts and develop effective business communication strategies.
Finding your brand story
One cannot start reading a novel from the middle. While a client might not be a part of your story from the beginning, they should never be left feeling out of place. They must know the story the brand is sharing, irrespective of when they became a part of it. This can only be truly ensured when the brand itself is clear on its proposition and what it stands for.
To get that clarity, the brand must ask the following questions:
- What problem is your brand trying to solve?
- Why is it an important problem to solve?
- Who are you solving this problem for?
- How will your brand solve this problem?
Every good brand story emerges from the answers to these questions. Finding this story must be an inside-out process, not a superficial one. Each story has to also incorporate characters that deliver the brand’s message. For instance, like that of the protagonist or the antagonist. While these roles might not always be personified, brands need to identify what forces play these roles. For instance, certain brands will clearly make their customer the hero, while others will shine that spotlight on their product. Similarly, brands must be aware of the antagonist in the story, an inhibitor that can present in the form of price, poor quality, or regulation.
Crafting your message
Once you have identified your story, it must then be crafted and adapted to the medium that resonates most with your consumers. Today, consumers increasingly prefer multi-sensory or multi-format experiences. As a result, marketers are trying to incorporate such experiences into their strategy.
At this stage, you will also have to identify the ideal means of sharing your story. In this time and age of technological advancements, design thinking can help marketers better define the parameters of their message and deliver an honest communication experience through a well-defined plan of action.
Merging stories with technology
Brands today are actively using technology to enhance their relationship with their customers. Therefore, it is important for brands to evolve and stay up-to-date with new technology. Interactive content has already helped brands forge deep, meaningful relationships with their audiences.
Consistency is key
One of the most challenging, yet alluring, aspects of storytelling is that it is not a one-time experience. Brands must resolve to stand by a core narrative, even after substantial time has passed. It can be easy to lose track and forget one’s core proposition, especially in the fight to cut through the noise. To prevent this, it is important to have this core proposition documented and revisited regularly. Ideas, that may seem extraordinary, but that deviate from the core proposition should be done away with.
As storytellers, marketers are influencing market trends by creating impactful communications. They are presenting the right messages to stakeholders. Giving customers what they want to hear, see, and consume is not as easy as it sounds. However, practice makes perfect. Over time, storytelling will make the process smoother for brands, helping them flourish with great ideas and stories.
Though unlike the stories once handed down to us by our predecessors, these will not end anytime soon. Instead, they will evolve to enrapture newer consumers.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)