Harness the Power of Storytelling in Your Business

B2B - Brand Strategy
Brand Innovation
Digital Strategy

Great stories captivate people.

A good story grabs attention, connects emotionally and sticks in the mind. Leveraging storytelling in marketing and communications is exactly that... an art.

Recent research with 250 top UK marketers shows nearly 80% want storytelling to play a significant role in their 2023 plans.

But, putting aside what marketers want. As a consuming audience, our brains are wired for stories. We absorb and remember details and elements of a story when it is presented to us in an engaging and entertaining way.

So whether that's a case study, a white paper or even a blog post like this one. We need to tell stories that resonate, in order to drive value from our marketing efforts.

But how do we do that?

Tell Authentic Stories That Resonate

Craft stories that convey your brand values, purpose and mission authentically. Easy in theory, but more difficult in practice.

To create a compelling story that hits home, firstly, requires a strong understanding of your target audience. What are their wants, their needs, their desires even? When you understand these things, you can start to craft the core message of your narrative.

 

Then we have the purpose of the story. What do you want to get out of this?

Perhaps you want to drive conversions, drum up investment in a new venture, or spread the word about a cause that is dear to your heart.

What you want to get out of any given piece of written content will form the basis of the content itself.. Think of your call to action, then work backwards from it.

Harvard Business Review, uses a fantastic example, of a pharmaceutical CEO leveraging his own story as a tool to inspire action in potential investors. You can read this, in full, here.

Fundamentally, successful brands are great storytellers... this is what sets them apart.

Stand Out with Compelling Brand Narratives

A strong brand story helps differentiate you. Develop unique narratives to carve out a distinct identity. Compete with influencer culture by getting your message to stick in the mind.

Memorable stories make brands stand out.

Consider the conservationist 4ocean. Its mission, while logistically huge and complex, is incredibly concise... to clean up the world's oceans.

It is from this mission statement, that all of 4oceans narrative clout comes from. They are particularly adept at bringing the individual on the journey with them, using all the power of the storytelling process, in both written and visual formats, to engage customers.

In the case of 4ocean, those customers are varied. It's retail arm extols the virtue of goodwill. If you buy a bracelet, a bottle, a tote bag. You, the customer, are directly and positively contributing towards ocean conservation. Every item you buy, helps them pull five pounds of trash out of the ocean.

Everything it does comes back to this cause.

Whether you've bought a twenty-dollar bracelet. Or upped the ante, with a significant investment into one of its sponsored clean-ups, the stories play out the same way. You are helping them achieve their goals of cleaning up the world's oceans.

This combination of compelling stories and real-life examples is a particularly powerful, and useful benchmarking point for what makes a compelling brand narrative.

The Art of visual Storytelling in marketing

An incredibly powerful piece of visual storytelling comes from Water is Life.

The US-based charity exists to change lives through access to clean, safe water and the way tells Nkaitole's story, is nothing short of breathtaking.

Built around the tragic statistic, that one in five children in Kenya, won't reach the age of five. This particularly poignant piece video, tells the story of four-year-old Nkaitole's 'Bucket List for life'

Powerful stories have the power to stop you in your tracks and pull your focus away from anything and everything... just like this.

 

Compelling stories = loyalty

Ever thought about how a great story can align people with your brand in the long term?

We've mainly referenced charitable and non-profit organisations in this piece and there's a reason for that.

That's because charities generally tend to be the best example of business storytelling. Because they have to be. These kinds of organisations rely solely on the goodwill of others and the best way to achieve this is through a prolonged and emotively driven focus on storytelling.

You've only got to look at the likes of Comic Relief to see how this kind of approach can drive loyalty towards an organisation.

For nearly forty years, Comic Relief has held the attention of the British Public raising nearly £1.5 billion.

Anyone who has watched any of its fundraising programmes will understand its format all too well. The show isn't about Lenny Henry and comedy sketches. Those are the interludes between the real purpose.

Comic Relief has long been about telling stories. Compelling stories, relatable stories, heartwarming stories and tragic stories... but good stories.

Good stories stick.

 

Optimize Storytelling Across Channels

Integrate narratives into all communications and tailor your stories for different media, channels and outlets.

Whether it's website content, PR and news stories, social campaigns, video storytelling. Work to ensure you are leveraging different and various formats to convey your message across multiple channels, to multiple audiences.

Also, remember the hook. You have seconds to grab attention in the digital age. So make sure your opener is a strong one.

Building relationships

Harnessing storytelling to forge personal connections isn't something that's achieved overnight.

You need to take your customers and patrons on a communications journey, rather than just coming straight at them with a hardline call to action.

You need to help your customers relate to your products and services, using their own needs and experiences as the narrative drive. A concept perhaps best explained by Simon Sinek, in his 'Start with Why' Ted Talk.

As Sinek puts it, "People don't buy what you do. They buy why you do it."

Look to integrate narratives into marketing and communications strategies and cut through the noise with impactful brand stories. Consider the why, and how this can help you build stronger relationships, loyalty and business growth.

The Takeaway

An issue in all marketing, comms and PR is content creation for the sake of creating content and let's not beat around the bush, this is a problem.

It's a problem because generic inputs lead to generic outputs, you get out what you put in.

If you're not putting the effort into creating engaging materials for your customers, patrons, user base or whoever you're communicating to. Then why would you expect interaction, uptake, let alone ROI.

Don't just create content for the sake of it.

Take the time to understand your audience, define your proposition, ask yourself why and look to how you can utilise different media formats. Consider how you can take your own experiences, and the shared experiences within your organisation, to create angles and ways of viewing things differently.

Then, embrace the art of storytelling.