From a marketer’s perspective, audiences are now in control of what they see, what they share and how they view it (i.e. through which channel). So brands can no longer push messages across, but need to pull audiences in with engaging, useful, creative and attractive content. And visual storytelling is one of the best ways to capture the interest of prospective consumers.
Brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, but with the advent of the Digital Age and the rise of popular social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Weibo and WeChat, etc., storytelling has become one of the strategic marketing tools to engage your customers to know your brand.
Storytelling is the oldest form of passing knowledge, and stories make messages easier to convey. Good brand storytelling isn’t directly about you, your brand and your solutions/products. It is about emotions, needs and the written and unwritten images associated with these emotions and needs, in relationship to what the brand evokes.
Following are five elements that brand storytellers understand and use to engage and connect emotionally with their audience.
People want to listen to stories that they can relate to, so the stories must be compelling and truthful. While it is important to tell your story, customer narratives have the biggest long-term impact on brands. Consumers should be the main characters, with your brand serving as the supporting character that offers tools to help them create successful resolutions.
Quality of your products and/or services is one of the primary reasons that your customers keep coming back. So in the fast-paced Digital World we live in, brands must learn to keep up with the changes, and at the same time not compromise the quality of the goods and/or services. The same applies to brand storytelling. If brand stories are inconsistent, audiences will get confused and in turn will look for other brands that meet their expectations in every interaction.
Retaining long lasting relationships with your customers is to be a friend with them, share each other’s thoughts and accommodate their needs, while without compromising the quality of your products/services. Let them voice out their comments, suggestions and complaints about your products/services, as if they are your long-time friends. If they dislike or make bad comments about a story you published online, accept their feedback with an open mind and listen to their thoughts.
Brand stories should follow a similar structure of fiction stories, which include a beginning, a middle and an end. In the beginning, you need a strong opening that establishes your story setting and the character(s). The middle should set up the problem of the main character, and then present what conflicts he/she encounters before he/she can find solutions in the end. This is your character’s journey, and you need to take your audience along for it. If they like and enjoy the story, they will stick around, share with other people, and come back again.
Leave your audience wanting more, and they will come back again and again. One way is to make a series of brand stories. Inform them when the next series will be out at the end of the first story, and link the relevant information on your website or Twitter/Facebook Page. Or engage with audiences by having a pop quiz on social media. This approach can also offer the perfect opportunity to include offline and mobile marketing in your brand storytelling initiative.
With all the brand building efforts, your goal is to surround your audience with brand experiences, including stories. So they can select how they want to interact with your brand. Give them multiple ways to enjoy brand stories, and you as marketer will find yourself moving closer to achieve your brand marketing goals.
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