There used to be a time when having a USP was enough to gain visibility for your brand. Just walk into any supermarket and you will realize the scale of the problem today. There are almost 10,000 brands on the supermarket shelves competing for a customer's attention. To stand out from this maze of logos and taglines, brands cannot make an impression with just a smart message. The only way to find space in the consumer's mind is by telling a story.
Storytelling has ushered in a new era in the marketing and communications industry. Powerful stories can not only give your brand a strong identity, they also make your brand interesting, engaging and inspirational. More than any feature or benefit, it is your story that convinces the consumer to choose your brand. People don't buy products any more. People buy the story.
Getting your storytelling basics right
We all grew up listening to bed-time stories and reading story books. Some of our fondest childhood memories are stories we narrate even today. Storytelling is such an integral part of our human experience, and yet, when it comes to narrating brand stories, we often get it wrong.
Great storytelling doesn't start with the products or its benefits. It starts with the consumer. It starts with their needs, their emotions, their aspirations and the lives they lead. By telling stories that resonate with people on a personal level, brands don't just become more relatable. They become a part of people's lives.
All great brand stories consist of three acts: Setting up the plot, chronicling the conflict and finally, providing a resolution. Always remember, the ultimate goal of storytelling is to inspire and influence behaviour. It is bring about a change in the lives of the consumer. The desired outcome is what drives the direction of the brand story.
Finding the right stories to tell
The best brand stories are personal stories. They could be story of the founder of the brand, like the truly amazing story of how Colonel Sanders started KFC at the age of 65. Sometimes, they are stories of how the brand was born. Like how Post-Its were created because the team at 3M's labs failed miserably at creating a super-strong adhesive.
More often than not, the most powerful stories come from the consumers. They are usually the main protagonist in the story, with the product serving as the perfect supporting cast, offering them the tools to achieve their goals. When told the right way, testimonials can also be a potent weapon in building customer loyalty.
The story of a great storyteller
Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon is one of the best storytellers of the internet generation. He has built one of the world's biggest empires, after starting off by shipping books out of his garage in 1995, based one simple and clear goal: To be the most consumer-centric company on earth.
You will find this story in almost every aspect of the Amazon business. From its low prices, to its free returns, to its recommendation engine, to its one-click ordering process, Amazon has always put customers above everything else.
Choosing the right medium
Today, we have an abundance of media at our disposal for telling brand stories. Blogs, Social Media, Print, Film, Outdoor – they all work differently, so your story should be tailored to fit that medium. Which is why, it becomes critical to the success of your storytelling exercise to know which story to tell in which medium.
The best storytellers in the business today are great listeners too. They listen to the pulse of the brand, collect feedback from their audience and try to understand their desires and concerns. As storytellers, our job isn't done once we've finished telling a story. Brands need to evolve and for that, our stories need to evolve as well, and that won't happen if we are not listening.
What do you think is the key ingredient to telling a compelling brand story? What are your favourite examples of great brand storytelling? We would love to hear your thought and opinions on this topic. Sound off in the comments section below.