Many companies are finding that they can better connect with consumers by telling stories, rather than simply stating facts about their product. This is supported by research, which has shown that 55% of consumers who love a brand’s story are willing to make a purchase from that brand. Therefore, focusing on storytelling in marketing is becoming increasingly popular.
Nowadays, businesses are using brand marketing and branded content to connect more deeply with consumers by telling stories. Brand marketing is all about raising awareness for a company. After people are aware of the company, marketers try to get consumers interested in the company’s products or values through creative campaigns. Branded content is one type of creative campaign that associates a brand and its values with a product without trying to get people to buy the product. This is different from standard advertising, where businesses promote a brand and its products and try to get people to buy them.
Instead of standard advertisements, Orange is the New Black partnered with the New York Times on an article about female prison inmates. The article included pictures of the prisoners in noticeable orange jumpsuits, which linked to the visual aspect of the show and its title. In addition, personal care company Dove created a viral video promoting its “real beauty” campaign. The video called out the difference between how women look and how they feel they should look. Dove’s campaign hit a cord with everyday people, who don’t look like the supermodels that often grace television advertisements. These crafty techniques allow brands to associate with social causes or other brands, helping grow their audience and business.
What Is Brand Storytelling?
Brand storytelling is a term that refers to the overall messaging that a brand sends out, both intentionally and unintentionally. This can include everything from advertising and marketing to the way employees interact with customers.
In addition to all of your marketing content, your brand story also includes:
- Your website pages, including product and services pages
- Your core value proposition
- Your differentiation messaging
- Your unique selling propositions
- The experiences your customers have using your products and/or services
- The reviews customers post about you online
- What your sales reps tell customers
- What your customer support team tells customers
- How your employees talk about your company to the people they meet
- Your social media content
- Your press releases
- Any coverage of your brand in the media
There are many factors that your marketing department does not have control over, but that does not mean you should give up and focus your energy elsewhere.
Why It Matters
In a world full of content, a strong brand can help a company stand out from its competition. Blue Apron, a food delivery company, has done well in brand marketing by sticking to its purpose: delivering fresh, quality ingredients to consumers and creating opportunities for everyone to be a home cook. Blue Apron’s practical mission is something that a lot of people can agree on, and it helps set the company apart from others. In the first quarter of 2018, Blue Apron earned $196.7 million in revenue.
More than a century ago, companies relied on word-of-mouth and newspaper ads to promote their products. However, the invention of the radio and television allowed for companies to reach larger audiences with their advertising. In the past 25 years, advertising has become more about creating a brand narrative and promoting it through storytelling, rather than just promoting and showcasing products.
Telling stories is an effective way to market a brand as it allows customers to learn about the brand’s personality, values, and authenticity. A study published by the Harvard Business Review found that 64% of consumers are more likely to develop a relationship with a brand if they share the same values. Furthermore, it is especially important for brands to be authentic in 2018, as consumer attitudes have changed. A global study by the Havas Group found that 75% of consumers expect brands to make a positive impact on our well-being and quality of life. However, the study also revealed that only 33% of brands in North America are currently trusted. If marketers can use storytelling to promote a company’s authenticity, it can help build trust with consumers and create lasting relationships.
The way a brand tells its story is important in 2018 because of the changing habits of consumers. Generation Z, which is expected to make up 40% of all consumers by 2020, now wants brands to be authentic and transparent when they are engaging with them. In a survey of Gen Z consumers by IBM, a chief marketing officer said “Gen Z responds to brand value. They may be attracted to newness, but they look beyond that…they look for substance. This generation can tell if something is fake or not, and they will call you out if you are not being honest.” It is crucial for a company to display transparency and authenticity in its brand storytelling strategy if it wants to win over future consumers.
Why And How Marketers Can Take Control Of Brand Storytelling
The story of your brand has a big influence on how potential customers and existing customers feel about you. This can be the factor that determines whether they buy from you or from a competitor.
You need to be in control of how your brand is perceived by others.
How do you do that?
Look At Your Brand Identity
When was the last time you examined your brand identity? Take a look at your brand guidelines. Do they accurately represent your company? Does your logo still reflect your values? Do your brand colors? Do your mission statement and taglines sound like your company? If not, it may be time to revisit your branding.
When you are thinking about these questions, you shouldn’t only think about the answers from your marketing team’s perspective. Every employee in your company should be able to see your company reflected in your brand.
Look At Your Company Messaging
If your company’s mission statement, taglines, and boilerplate don’t do a good job of explaining what your company does and why it’s different from its competitors, you’re not doing a good job of attracting customers.
To get your company messaging in a better place, go through a messaging exercise. Bring together a handful of key stakeholders from various departments including:
- Executive leadership
- Products and/or service delivery
- Customer support
You should have a conversation with your customers about what they are looking for in a company like yours. You should ask them why they would do business with you instead of your competitors. You should clarify whether the things you think are differentiators are claims only you can make.
From this conversation, draft a document that outlines your:
- Core value proposition
- Key differentiators
- Key selling propositions
- Mission statement
Once you’ve finished drafting your company messaging document, share it with the other key stakeholders from your brainstorming session. Do you have their approval? You need it, or else you’ll never get traction when you roll out the new company messaging to your whole organization. Rework your messaging until you have at least some level of approval from everyone in that meeting.
Make sure to test the employee response to the rebranding before fully committing to it.
Buy-in from a broad range of the company is necessary to incorporate this messaging into overall brand guidelines including logos, color palette, imagery guidelines, and fonts.
Roll It Out To Your Whole Team
It is of utmost importance that your employees are on board with your company’s messaging. If they are not, the messaging will not be successful.
Your brand story is affected by the conversations your sales reps have with prospects, your support reps have with customers, and your employees have with their friends, neighbors, and social media connections.
To make sure you have understanding and buy-in from your employees, develop a robust communications strategy. This could include:
Sending company-wide emails
- Posting messages in company chat threads or portals
- Giving managers scripts to distribute to their teams
- Posting taglines and you’re boilerplate all over your offices
- Making videos you distribute to team members
You should make sure that every employee in your company has been exposed to your revamped messaging at least nine times so that they fully understand it.
Distribute Your Brand Story To The World
After your employees have learned and accepted your brand story, it is time to present it to the public. This does not necessarily mean a large PR campaign. Usually, neither the media nor your customers will be concerned that you have changed your messaging.
Look for opportunities to change website copy to better reflect your company’s messaging. This may even mean undertaking an entirely new website development project.
You also want to update other key assets that shape how you interact with the world to reflect your new messaging. These could include:
- Sales templates
- Previously published content marketing assets
- Battle cards and sales scripts
- Customer service scripts
- Chatbot workflows
- Email workflows
- Press release templates
, have been updated to align with the new branding The text is saying that social media assets like boilerplate, header images, and profile pictures have been updated to match the new branding.
It is important that anyone creating content for marketing, such as press releases or social media posts, are using the new messaging you have created. If you are trying to tell a new story with your brand that aligns with this new messaging but the content creators are still using the old messaging, it will be confusing to your audience.
Use your brand messaging guidelines to determine how your company responds to different types of events, such as media coverage, social media posts, customer service inquiries, and PR crises.
Tips For Weaving Your Brand Story Into Your Content Marketing
The content you publish affects your brand story. Your marketing content may be the first exposure potential customers have to your brand.
Make Your Customers The Heroes Of Your Story
The solutions your products and services provide are integral to your brand story. Make sure your customers are at the forefront of this story, and that every piece of content you publish reflects this. Your customers should feel like heroes; keep providing them with the tools they need to solve their problems, until they require your products or services to do so.
Channel Your Brand’s Passions
Your target audience is more likely to identify with your brand if it is enthusiastic about something. Even the most uninteresting, technical brands have something they are passionate about. As you come up with ideas for your content strategy, make sure to include topics you’re passionate about.
Tell Your Story Through Voice And Tone
You need to make sure that your brand identity comes across in your voice and tone in order to make your customers feel a certain way about you.
Focus On Differentiation In Content For The Middle Of The Buyer Journey
Your company likely has different methods and processes than your competitors in order to produce superior results for your customers. Make sure to produce content explaining why your company’s approach is optimal for your customers’ success in the middle of their buyer journey.
Where’s Your Story Headed?
Brand storytelling is essential for marketing success now and in the future. Studies show that the vast majority of consumers want advertising that is presented in the form of a story, with captivating and visually striking images that will create an impression and stay in the customer’s mind. The key components of an effective brand story – being transparent, evoking an emotional response, and resonating with the audience – will continue to be important factors in the years ahead. As businesses look to expand their reach and grow their customer base, they will need marketing experts who have the ability to tell the company’s story in an appealing way.
The University of West Alabama offers an online bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, as well as an online Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication. Both programs are designed to teach students the skills they need to be successful brand storytellers. The programs are affordably priced and include a curriculum that is based on marketing communications. Students also have the option of choosing between different tracks, such as graphic design or sports communication. Most courses are only eight weeks long, and the programs are offered in a flexible, online format to accommodate students’ busy schedules.
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