What ideas your customers pull from your brand is imperative to your success. One of the most effective ways of distinguishing your brand is via brand storytelling. It’s the way you are going to communicate your message to the world, by using either images, texts, videos and sounds.
Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time. It’s always been a powerful way to transmit either values or traditions and to exercise influence. A good story can turn a small common brand into one that has meaning; a company whose image and values resonate with its target market. But be careful! Get it wrong and it can damage your brand and create disconnect with your customers. Get it right, however, and it is an incredibly powerful means of building your brand and attracting new people.
Think about how big Universities are able to gather their current students and alumni. Think about how proud those people are, wearing their School ring, singing their alma matter and wearing their school gear even after they’ve received their diploma and left the campus. The result is similar to the one you want to achieve for your brand: and storytelling is the key.
What is Brand Storytelling?
When customers go to a retail store, they have the opportunity to have a great consumer experience. Stores like Whole foods, Abercrombie and Fitch, Lush, Starbucks and more are capable of creating emotions for their customer. They can make them feel happy, healthy, even pampered, or being a part of a community. But the most important aspect is that: they are “feeling” something. If you want your customers to come back and keep purchasing, as with traditional brick and mortar stores, you need to sell them emotions through their screens.
People don’t want to feel like the only one thing you want is their money. Your customers need to trust you and don’t want another proposal that sounds too good to be true. They want to believe they are 100% at the origin of the buying decision they are making, they don’t want to feel like they’ve been pushed to do so.
Thus, in order to make the product and the purchasing act almost invisible you have to share a story with them, because they can’t smell the fresh bread just out of the oven or touch how soft this fabric is. Then you have to give them something to rely on. If they like your story, if they trust you, then they will like the item you want to sell them. They might even be more than happy to help you in your journey!
Take the case of one of the masters of the storytelling art, Redbull. They’ve created a real universe: you never see the product by itself, only sporting events and videos sponsored by the brand. The message that “Redbull is so cool and it gives you energy boost so that you can achieve anything” is induced by the association between the brand and those sporting events.
Also, the public will be much more willing to share great videos of incredible sport performances than anything else only featuring a can full of a good beverage. The best part is, even if you don’t necessarily drink Redbull, you will be likely to spread their message. But to achieve this goal, the content you share must be 100% relevant to the story you are willing to associate your brand with.
Why is good brand storytelling so important?
Brand stories do more than just offer a great vector for content creation and promotion: they help your targets psychologically associate ideas with your products and brand. These associations are powerful and quite difficult to break. In fact, efficient storytelling will :
- Be a very effective tool for influence, leadership and persuasion
- Highly powerful for connecting, sharing, and learning
- Repeated and shared a lot
- Facilitate emotional and cognitive connection
- Retain information in the mind far better than random data
- Create personal resonance (facilitates likability and credibility)
- Support empathy, collaboration and relationships
- Give you more credibility
On a more psychological level, effective stories can do quite a bit for your e-commerce. To insure that your brand storytelling is the most effective as it can possibly be, it must be:
- Credible (have an internal consistency and logic)
- Simple (have a focus and objective)
- Concrete (relate to the audience’s situation and concern; address problems that people can relate to)
- Emotional (invite listeners/ readers to relate and empathize; feel authentic; touch emotions through characters)
- Unexpected. (contain elements of suspense and surprise; are different and novel)
- Sensory (relate to images, conversation and senses the audience can connect with)
The effects on the brain are clear : a consumer will psychologically associate the brand with the emotions that the storytelling provokes. Not only will this association be made, but the brain has the tendency to associate these feelings and emotions with previous experiences which ingrains them even further into our memories. For more information on how the brain processes storytelling, check out the graphic below:
The brain intensely engages in natural coupling (associations with previously retained ideas, experiences and memories) when exposed to stimulus. This can be intensified with an emotional response- which releases dopamine making it easier to remember the finer details. If your customers minds are bound to process experiences into stories, by telling the story of your brand you are speaking to your customers in the way that is easiest for their minds to process.
How do I tell my Brand’s Story?
When creating a brand story, it needs to be relevant to your customers, your brand, and your products. In this case, to make a brand’s story truly effective, there are several things you need to consider and integrate. Here is a list of points to think about when creating your company story:
- Focus on a key proposition : answer ‘why us over them?’
- Language : is what you say emotive ? Does it sound authentic ? Is it in line with the rest of the brand ?
- Values : does your story matches what you stand for?
- Authenticity : people have to believe that the founders are experts in their field
- Great design : aim to please people
- Humble beginnings : affirming a sense of ‘I’m just like you!’ can make your brand seem a lot more accessible
- Built out of passion : people will only get excited about your products if you’re excited about them as well
- Solving a problem : solving a common problem creates a great storyline – use it to your advantage
- Detail the manufacturing process : show people how the products they’re buying are made
- Founder is brand ambassador : bring out the personality of the company founder(s)
Specifically, if you are creating a new product, then share the story with your future customers. Share pictures of the creation process, your team going to the factory or brainstorming, anything that will show a backstage view, and make your customers part of the bigger picture. This is also the reason why fundraising websites work so well nowadays, because people are ready to invest if they believe and relate to the story. You can create tutorial on how to use your product, write a guide, invent recipes, show a behind-the-scenes, have a blog where you analyze the trends, and many more possibilities.
Another great way to built a good storytelling is by involving your customers/users to create user generated content. Invite them to publish their pictures using or wearing your products (ex : Go Pro videos). You might be surprised to see how your users are willing to get involved!
The competition between e-commerce platforms is getting more and more important every day, a good storytelling is the way to be different, to be remembered and thus to be visible to the world. What the values you would like to share with your customers?