Stories bond us as they get passed down from one generation to the next, acting as vehicles for our values, beliefs and culture. For as long as there have been humans, there has been storytelling, a fundamental way to connect with each other, as evident through the cave drawings depicting daily life in the neolithic era, the oldest relics of human culture.
When we meet someone new, we ask questions to get to know them. We try to unearth their story, while also sharing our own (or some version of it, at least). The end goal is simply to establish a ‘real’ human connection, something we all crave instinctively. We find love, both romantic and platonic, by seeking like-minded people who share our likes, dislikes, ideas and opinions.
Stories lead to better understanding, trust and comprehension. We teach important ideas to our children through fables and fairy tales. We share episodes from the lives of important religious and historical figures via dialogues and stories. We connect, engage, and are moved to tears, laughter, anger, sympathy and action. Stories allow us the chance to experience a variety of emotions without the risk of those emotions themselves. Emotions like wonder, fear, courage, or love can be tested out in our minds as we read or listen to a story.
In business, the rules don’t really change. Telling your story is a critical part of building your brand. It shapes how people view you and enables consumers to forge a deeper connection with you and your company. Do it right, and you’ll put building blocks in place that allow you to develop a thriving brand with an equally thriving future, one that people engage with simply because they love what you do, believe in what you stand for, and connect with the stories you share.
In branding, storytelling is used as a powerful marketing tool to bring in new customers and keep the old ones coming back for more. Your story explains to the world what your daily struggles are, what went right and wrong and crafting the story in the right way can and will develop a bond with your target. Think of it as a novel, the author is capable of creating vivid characters in a plot with precise details to make them feel alive. Even though they aren’t real, we can love and hate these characters as if they were. The trick, however…is to be authentic. Consumers aren’t stupid.
Most companies riddle their marketing campaigns with meaningless call-to-action messages and the main difference between a company and a “brand” is how the latter utilizes the power of storytelling. Brands focus on creating a compelling desire within customers to engage with the brand, and they generally do this through constant and consistent emotional messaging that resonates deeply with their core audiences and bonds them to the brand. A brand story isn’t just a valuable marketing asset, it’s also a brand’s guiding principles and impacts every facet of the organization.
According to a neurological study from Harvard University, the human brain responds well to good storytelling through the release of oxytocin, the human-bonding hormone that mothers share with their babies and bonds families and couples together. Oxytocin is also produced in us when we witness acts of kindness, experience stories that revive our faith in humanity or relate to us on an emotional level.
Iconic brands have long realized the power of their brand story to build a connection with their audience. Companies like Apple, Coca-cola and Facebook possess brand stories that are legendary in their power and status with Oscar-winning movies and endless books evangelizing their successes.
Coca-cola went from being declared “creatively bankrupt” by its own CEO in 2004 to being named ‘Creative Marketer of the Year’ at Cannes in 2013 by moving beyond traditional advertising and focusing on brand storytelling. They established a Content 2020 plan, a redesign described as ‘the most ambitious rethink of Coca-Cola’s web properties’ with a main goals to ‘kill the press release’. They focused on blogger and influencer marketing and creating compelling and emotional content, with a strategic mission to make sure that “every story is compelling and share-worthy”. A simple search on YouTube and you’ll find endless content created by Cocoa-cola that will move to you laughter, tears and tingling feelings of human connection.
Google also understands the power of storytelling. One of the best examples is a short 3-minute video showing a man in Delhi telling his granddaughter about his childhood best friend, whom he hadn’t seen since the Partition of India in 1947, when India and Pakistan became separate countries. The man’s granddaughter arranges for the two to meet again and this story is about as emotional as it gets (go on.. a good cry is always therapeutic). The story is simple and direct. It’s beautiful, and honest, and true.
There is no better story example than The Lego Movie. A huge global success all because a brand managed to create a masterful story, using their product as the star, and at the same time created what is the most effective 90 minute commercial for a “toy” we’ve ever seen. It’s actually a good movie, incredibly well written and created for both kids and adults. Every scene is masterfully created with Legos. There are deep messages happening within the movie, all of which are uplifting and easy to get behind: There is a “builder” within each one of us if we only believe, we’re only as limited as our imagination allows us to be and finally, you’re never too old to create magic.
In your brand’s story, you are the protagonist. It is your chance to tell your tale, your way, and to broadcast your beliefs to the world. In every story there is a hero and a villain so ask yourself: what you are fighting against? What problem you are facing that you are working to solve? Especially with newer brands, people care and expect that the brand is coming into existence for a good reason – to solve a problem, to change how we do things, to meet a specific need – and the story is central to communicating the brand’s purpose.
The formula for your brand story is really quite simple: Problem —> Solution —> Success.
However, there are some key components of your brand story that should always be present:
- The reason your company came to be
- What motivates you and your team to come to work each day
- Giving your audience an inside look at your company
Brands that have a clear identity and purpose are able to form more meaningful connections that result in truly devoted fans. Their biggest fans, often, are the employees – the founder does not simply hand the reins over but rather retains an active role in the company as the Chief Narrator. The storytelling aspect all comes down to your brand’s core strategy which defines your purpose, proposition and personality which in turn guide your tone of voice, creative directions positioning in the market.
If you want to craft a great brand story give us a call and we’ll create a compelling strategy that connects your brand to your audiences in a meaningful way. Visit www.blackink.me/contact to get in touch.