According to the Custom Content Council, 61% of consumers say they feel better about and are more likely to buy from a company that delivers custom content. This is just one reason brands have jumped on the content marketing bandwagon.
So how can a brand distinguish itself if every company is creating content?
According to Ogilvy Singapore’s Barrie Seppings, “In the era of big data, we need stories in order to build marketing messages that are both ‘accurate and human.’”
The most successful marketers know that it’s all about telling stories.
Importance of Brand Storytelling
No matter how effective technology platforms become in delivering content, people will flock to the same things that have always moved them. We are suckers for great stories -- narratives that remind us of our humanity. Marketing professionals know that no one can resist a good story, and they use it to their full advantage.
A compelling story may be enough to evoke interest in your brand, but to improve its discoverability, you need to create non-linear content that veers away from single direction brand storytelling. Consider creating personalized experiences to engage your target market more effectively.
In Gary Viray's article “6 Lessons About Non-Linear Content That SEOs Need to Know,” he explains about the ability of non-linear content to facilitate brand discovery. According to him, "Connecting varying content to serve your restless audience is the way to nudge the search engines to rank your content. Full-circle coverage of your brand using different media is what feeds the search engines, which leads to your brand discovery."
How to Create Memorable Stories
So how can you create brand stories that will move your audience without sounding like a self-centered salesman? These great examples of effective brand storytelling will give you ideas on how to do it.
1) Show, don’t tell.
Telling your story is not enough. You need to show your audience how great your product or service is by weaving it naturally into your story.
Dove’s "Real Beauty" Campaign
This genuinely touching campaign touches on female empowerment. In this video, a forensic artist draws a group of women individually. Each woman gives descriptions of herself, and the artist draws the sketch according to how she describes herself. A stranger then describes how she sees the woman, and the artist draws another sketch based on that description.
The women are naturally shocked to see the two sketches, which are completely different from each other. This video highlights the fact that women don't realize how beautiful they are. Dove created a powerful way to teach women to love themselves and to stop feeling insecure about their looks.
2) Hit a nerve.
The stories you create should inspire your audience. These make us want to get involved or change our perspective on life.
Honey Made’s “This is Wholesome” Campaign
In this series of documentaries, we get to see a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the lives of three families. The characters include a same-sex couple with children, a single dad, and a military man. You can see Honey Made’s graham products in the short films, but the product placement doesn’t distract from the essence of the stories.
The campaign is designed to inspire audiences to live with more love in their hearts and to build a lasting bond with their families.
Dodge "Farmer" Commercial
This ad aired during the 2013 Super Bowl, and it is a beautiful story that narrates why God created the farmer. It shows the life of hardworking individuals in small town America and how they built a nation. The ad aligns with Dodge's positioning -- the makers of trucks for the hardworking American.
3) Introduce characters that audiences relate to and who personify the brand’s core values.
People like to buy from brands they believe in -- brands they can identify with. If they see people they can relate to, they are more likely to become customers. Here you can use stories of real consumers to connect with future ones.
Patagonia’s “Worn Wear” Series
This two-part documentary series features the stories of seven adventurers who are using Patagonia gear. The stories show how Patagonia clothing became a part of these adventurers’ lives. The engaging stories draw attention to the clothing but do not overshadow the words of the characters.
4) Create stories that highlight the benefits of your product or service.
As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to show people what’s good about your product or service. What you need to do is highlight these benefits in a new way.
University of Phoenix’s “A Career Outside Football” Campaign
The documentary tells the story of NFL player Larry Fitzgerald and how he dealt with the challenges of getting a college degree while traveling around the world, caring for his cancer-stricken mother, and raising a son.
It’s an inspiring story that manages to convey the main benefit of the brand: attend an online university, and you can finish college even if you’re halfway around the world or busy taking care of family.
Getting your message across in an intensely competitive market is challenging, but it's worth the effort. Find your brand's humanity to come up with stories shape minds and inspire hearts.
Originally published Feb 18, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017