There’s an art to marketing stories. A good narrative enraptures the attention of eyes, ears, emotions, and imagination. But what is brand storytelling, and can a brand story really boost sales, drive growth, and foster customer and client loyalty?
A good story tugs on emotions, and that’s significant in storytelling marketing. When done well, narratives communicate messages that inspire people to take action. So, storytelling in digital marketing is the superior way to shape brand identity beyond the conventional approaches to content marketing.
No business can buy the loyalty of a consumer base; it is a byproduct of positive brand experiences that build trust over time. Today, savvy marketers use storytelling to connect with the target audience, and this piece shows you how. But first, a brief overview of what brand storytelling is not.
It’s Not About You
Your story is not about Charlie X, the company founder, and how they started the business. Your audience doesn’t care who you’re married to, how many kids you have, etc. That is not the kind of story that captivates a potential buyer.
Great marketing stories, even when they’re about the founder, focus on their passion for helping their clients out of a difficult situation or achieve their once-thought unattainable goals.
|OneSpot Personalization Imperative Report|
The report discovered that 68% of consumers surveyed found informative and educational content the most valuable. The remainder chose entertaining and inspiring content. Thus, user engagement through visual brand storytelling has become the most powerful medium .
Why Companies Fail at Brand Stories
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that fail at brand storytelling emphasize the wrong things. That could be content that bores rather than captivates the user. And the example above where the focus is on the founder, their family, and their journey, is a classic example of lost focus.
Here’s a list of the things you must keep OUT of your brand narrative:
- No focus on you: Brand storytelling is about your audience, not you
- No to what you make: It’s what you stand for and make happen that counts
- No to wordiness: This type of storytelling is a message, not a book
- No marketing jargon: Unnecessary terminology is a bland, generic turnoff
- No to the sales pitch: Inform and engage, don’t sell your offerings
Brand Stories Are About Your Target Audience
Shifting the limelight from you to your audience is half the battle. Indeed, your audience should be the focus of everything in business and branding. And the more you know that audience, the easier it becomes to articulate your story.
Know Your Client/Customer Personas
It takes market research and data analysis to determine an accurate client or customer persona. How well do you know your target buyers? Identifying the ideal customer helps shape your brand storytelling and make your business more profitable. It can be a time-consuming task, but will better focus all your marketing efforts making the payoff is worth the effort.
What you need to know about your target buyer depends on several factors. For example, what do you offer, and who will be most interested in buying what you have? The chart below summarizes the areas to focus on when building buyer personas:
Understanding your target audience helps bring your story to life in a way that draws people in. When a brand story appeals, people want to hear it through to the end. This is the inquisitive nature of humans. If a trusted friend approaches you and says,”Hey? You will never guess what happened to me last night,” they’ve got your attention.
Brand storytelling that resonates with your target audience has the same effect.
The Power Behind Brand Stories in Marketing
The remainder of this article aims to help B2B, SMB owners, and marketers tell stories featuring the products and services you offer. It illustrates how storytelling bridges the gulf that exists between sellers and buyers. The goal is for your brand narrative to connect consumers in ways that feel good and inspire them to do business with you.
The power of storytelling is to relate with people from the outset. And the only way to do that is to know precisely who you’re addressing. Remember, if you resonate with your users, they will want to hear what you have to say.
Even Boring Products Have a Story to Tell
Perhaps you sell red widgets that are no more exciting than hammers and nails. But it’s a mistake to think that a dull something has no story because it’s simply not true. On the contrary, every person, place, and item has something to say that will captivate and connect with the right people. And that is the real power behind brand storytelling.
Whether the product is boring or exciting, the story foundation is the same:
- Highlight user benefits over specs and features
- Keep the message simple yet entertaining and educational
- Make the story visual, e.g., photos, charts, video, etc.
- Make it narrative (series of related events and or experiences)
- Add a touch of humor if appropriate
While using a little poetic license in your narrative is OK, it must be authentic. Or, to put it another way, your job is to unveil your story, not invent it. A couple of Bold Entity examples of storytelling marketing illustrate this later in the piece.
|The Impact of Storytelling on Consumers, According to Research|
Collective studies showed the power of brand storytelling on consumer experiences. Researchers found that stories created and reinforced brand associations that increased consumers’ willingness to buy .
The Power of a Target Audience
The aim of your SMB marketing strategy is to leverage effective communication tactics. A winning brand story hooks the target audience through your journey, which is one they are also interested in and invested in. As a result, your company grows a loyal following and builds strong connections with its supporters.
Moreover, storytelling marketing initiatives help create a distinct brand identity with values that match your target audience and can turn your audience into evangelists for your company and its offerings.
Digital Transformation Matters in Storytelling
Much of today’s marketing uses digital technology and online platforms such as social media (SM) to get the message out. Brand storytelling is no different.
A digital transformation strategy is how you adopt technology to distribute your content to an audience. The idea is to surprise and delight users through storytelling mediums. Examples are written content, photos, videos, animations, etc.
|Bold Entity Sample Project #1|
Construction companies also have hidden stories, like their commitment to employees, their craft, and their community. For NTD Mechanical, we followed their crews and their management team, watching them focus on their work, meet difficult deadlines, manage multiple projects and build the places where we work, live, and play. Through inspiring photos, content, social media, and video, we were able to share many extraordinary stories about their dynamic company and the positive impact they have in their community.
Make Your Story Visible
Visual elements are more memorable than audio or words alone. It’s why speakers use slide presentations to captivate an audience. However, the graphical content you use should be more functional than flash. Think about what you need to explain to your audience and the media to use that best visualizes the things they wished they had.
Remember, storytelling should inform, educate, entertain, and inspire your audience.
|Bold Entity Sample Project #2|
Mary Lyons, aka the Wealth Woman. When we first met with her, she raved about how she helped one of her clients achieve their dream of building schools in South America. When we heard the passion and excitement she had in her voice, we realized her story wasn’t about helping people save money. It was about helping them achieve worthwhile goals. So we designed her website to resemble a high-end fashion magazine, which helps her target audience visualize the things they want to achieve.
Brand Storytelling Checklist
There can be no one-size-fits-all brand story template as every narrative is unique. But there are common dos and don’ts to remember, so here’s a side-by-side recap of those.
|– Marketing to a broad audience|
– Talking about you
– The Specifics of what you make
– High word counts
– Industry jargon
– Sales pitches
|– Market to a target audience|
– Benefits over features
– Simple, targeted message
– A common narrative
– Humor where appropriate
There is immense marketing power in captivating your target audience through brand storytelling. However, it can be time-consuming and tricky for the inexperienced owner or busy business. Still, the return is worth the time invested. Research from Headstream’s Power of storytelling report highlights those benefits.
It found that 55% of consumers are likely to buy a product or service promoted in story form. Around 15% of those will make an immediate purchase. And 44% of those consumers will go on to share the brand story .
|7 in 10 Consumers Turn Their Backs to Online Ads|
According to a trust barometer special report, 7 in 10 people look for ways to avoid online ads, such as ad-blocking technologies .
People are bombarded with digital advertising all day, every day with high-pressure sales tactics of “Buy Now!” and “Limited Time Offer!” Effective storytelling allows you to cut through the clutter and connect with your target audience in a deeper, more meaningful way that resonates with them. Creating a moment where your target audience feels connected to your brand and can see themselves reflected in your storytelling.
That’s the power of stories for marketing.
Brand Stories By the Experts
Are you short of time or expertise to create your brand story? Bold Entity’s proprietary branding process delves deep into what makes a company unique. Our dedicated team of SMB professional marketers knows how to convey your values, company mission, and individuality to targeted audiences. We dig deep into your company’s story, clients, and people.