Storytelling might sound like bedtime entertainment for a juvenile audience, however, stories are not just for children. Creating a strong and memorable storyline for your brand can significantly enhance your customer journey and increase conversion rates.
Why is storytelling in marketing so effective?
As humans, we are drawn to stories. Throughout history it is how people have passed on knowledge from one generation to the next and it’s how we teach, communicate, and form relationships with people today.
When it comes to inbound marketing, building a compelling brand story is a hugely powerful – but often overlooked – technique and can enhance consumer engagement in the following ways:
- Experience: Consumers today operate in an experience economy and, a lot of the time, what convinces us to part with our money is not the tangible product itself but the memories it supplies. A good brand story will encourage consumers to engage with you on another level, creating an experience synonymous with your product or service.
- Personality: A story is a great way of demonstrating your brand’s sense of humour or your company’s principles. Corporate values are particularly important to Generation Z, the new post-millennial wave of consumers; this is a demographic who have grown up with a better understanding of their individual voice and right to their own choices. To make sure they choose your product or service over your competitors’, you need to tell your brand story in a way that’s going to capture their attention, align with their own set of values, and warrant their customer loyalty.
- Sharing: When we get hold of a good story – whether it’s a riveting book we’ve just finished, a thought-provoking true-life film, or just a juicy bit of celebrity gossip – we talk about it, we just have to; as humans we thrive on shared experiences. So you can persuade consumers to do some of the promotional leg-work themselves by crafting such a compelling or unusual storyline, they just simply have to tell people about you!
- It’s science: If something moves us or evokes an emotional response, chemical reactions in our brain make us more likely to remember it in the future. What’s more, when listening to a story, people create their own illustrations and experiences, drawing on their own personal attachment to the characters involved. This biological phenomenon is called ‘neural coupling’ and means you don’t have to worry about personalising your brand story to individual customers – if your narrative is emotive enough, your customers will form their own personal connection with your brand.
- Retention: Studies have found that if we are told something through a narrative we are more likely to retain the information, which makes building a brand story so important when it comes to generating awareness.
3 killer examples of brand storytelling
Here’s three very different examples of great storytelling techniques from well known brands:
1. The Lego Movie
Children and adults have been playing with Lego bricks for 60 years and the company is still standing strong, being named as the most powerful brand in the world by Finance Monthly in 2017.
In 2014, ‘The Lego Movie’ was released, exceeding its $60m budget in its first week in the US alone as families rushed to watch what was, essentially, a very, very long advert for Lego toys.
What was so effective about The Lego Movie was that the creators understood their product and their audience. They knew that the adults bringing children to the cinema would also have fond memories of the Lego product – the basic concept of which hasn’t exactly changed much – and so a huge effort was put into making sure The Lego Movie was a story that appealed to viewers of all ages. For example, some of the characters from Lego’s Star Wars franchise were voiced by their actors from the original films, a detail that would have gone over the heads of younger viewers but would have been much appreciated by many adults watching.
The clever plot-twist at the end of the movie (spoiler alert) is that the whole adventure turns out to be a figment of Finn’s imagination, a small boy who is playing with his father’s prized Lego set. This again not only resonates with child viewers, but it also has a nostalgic part to play for adults who either enjoy playing Lego with their children, or who may have memories of playing Lego as a child themselves and creating their own narratives just like Finn. According to John Hanlon, founder of the Lego YouTube channel, Beyond the Brick, “regardless of age or ability, anyone can pick up Lego pieces and let their imagination run wild” and The Lego Movie certainly reinforces this.
2. 19 Crimes
19 Crimes is a range of Australian wines from Treasury Wine Estates, the wine distribution company behind popular brands Lindemans and Blossom Hill. The brand is named after the 19 crimes that sentence UK criminals to deportation to Australia.
Treasury Wine Estates MD, Tom King explains,”We have a model that we’ve built of consumer needs, and one of those is about adventure – that’s where 19 Crimes was born.”
“Our insight clearly shows that millennials like brands with real and authentic stories and our AR innovation really brings the 19 Crimes story to life… “
As part of the award-winning campaign, 19 Crimes teamed up with creative technology company, Tactic, to build a free mobile app that uses AR to reveal another ingenious dimension to the 19 Crimes brand story. When users hold their phone up to the wine bottle, the real-life convicts pictured on the labels come to life retelling their stories of crime and exile.
3. Nike – Take It To The Next Level
In the run up to Euro 2008, Nike scored a blinder with their 2 minute ad campaign ‘Take it to the Next Level’. The clip follows an amateur youth player as he is scouted by Arsene Wenger and consequently shoots up the ranks, debuting at Arsenal and eventually becoming a national player.
The film is shot through the eyes of the player giving the viewer a first-hand glimpse into the glorious lifestyle of a rich and famous footballer; the goals, the cheers, the camera and, let’s not forget, the women. The emotive video directed by Guy Ritchie is steeped with his trademark grittiness and machismo, and is certainly aimed at a very specific ‘blokey’ market, playing straight into the unrealised childhood dreams of most of its audience.
You don’t have to be a multinational market leader to create a strong brand story; the loudest voice in the room is not always the most powerful. Equally, you don’t need to come up with a fabulously long-tailed storyline to try and keep up with the big players. A simple but strong message that resonates with your audience will have much more impact and you can always add further chapters to your story as your company evolves and expands.