As human beings, we are hard-wired to connect emotionally with stories. Stories hold power to entertain, illuminate and deeply move people. In some cases, stories have even altered the course of history, shifting opinions and spurring action on a colossal scale.
Consider the lasting influence on political discourse, for example, of George Orwell’s book 1984. Or, moving closer to the present day, the global impact of An Inconvenient Truth, a documentary by Al Gore which alerted millions, if not billions, to the dangers of climate change.
So what does all this have to do with brands, engagement and conversions? Businesses that can leverage the art of storytelling successfully have a much greater chance of forming deep relationships with their ideal audiences. And in this post, we’re going to look at four key ways that you can craft and tell hard-hitting, meaningful stories for your brand.
What Is a Brand’s “Story”?
At its heart, storytelling is the art of communicating an idea through words, images, sounds, or any combination of these three mediums. It is the use of narrative techniques to connect with people and effectively share a message.
In a business context, storytelling weaves together different elements of your brand’s identity and presents them in a succinct, attention-grabbing way to potential and existing customers. These elements may include your value proposition, mission, company history, achievements and more – all tied together into a coherent narrative.
What’s more, your brand’s core narrative should inform every aspect of your customer-facing communication, from high-level advertising campaigns to the help documentation on your website. And while it’s unlikely that one specific touch-point will communicate your brand’s story in its entirety, every single tweet and Instagram post should provide a compelling snapshot.
Why Are Stories Important?
Stories are important because they evoke emotion. And when people form an emotional connection with a brand, they are much more likely to become loyal, vocal and long-term customers.
What’s more, stories are adaptable. They can be leveraged to communicate any aspect of a brand’s mission, its value proposition or unique selling points. Let’s say, for example, that you want to engage with environmentally conscious millennials by promoting your organization’s commitment to sustainability and its history of opting for ethical supply chains. You can easily create a story that conveys these values.
Alternatively, if you want to spread information about your product’s unique selling point and how it remedies unsolved problems in the market, you can also create a tailored, persuasive story geared to this end.
Effective story-telling is based on a detailed understanding of your customers’ needs and leverages proven techniques and strategies to build an authentic, meaningful response. For most companies, when carried out well this approach leads to greater publicity and higher conversions.
1. Understand the Fundamentals of Storytelling
While creativity is an essential ingredient of storytelling, virtually all effective stories, in the business sphere and beyond, are based on a set of core principles. It’s important to cultivate these techniques in the departments that will be responsible for communicating with your target customers.
Phrases like narrative progression, character development, protagonists, antagonists, conflict, resolution and so on might seem like they belong in a textbook for a creative writing course. But they are also powerful tools for businesses. Before you begin to define exactly what you’re going to say, you need to ensure that your brand is equipped with the skills and knowledge to take care of the how.
2. Define Your Value Proposition
It’s helpful for businesses to understand the broad and often-vague term “storytelling” in the more concrete context of their value proposition. A value proposition is a description of the main benefits that your product or service provides.
Many of the stories that you tell will be concerned with communicating various aspects of your value proposition, so it’s important that you’re working from a solid foundation. What’s more, stories that are geared towards different segments of your customer base will emphasize specific selling points and benefits.
Clearly outline all the reasons that a prospective customer has to purchase your product or service. And keep in mind that a value proposition is not a unique selling point. Rather, it’s the whole package of benefits that you provide.
3. Clarify Your Mission and Values
Consumers are becoming increasingly concerned with the origins of the products they buy. Millennials, in particular, want brands to be socially responsible and take a stand on important issues. By defining your mission, you can craft stories that embody and communicate it in the best possible way, thus connecting with customers that are an ideal fit for you.
Stories allow brands to align themselves with a specific mission and set of values. We can see the power of this type of brand storytelling in an array of areas. It’s increasingly common, for example, for supermarkets to tell stories about the farmers responsible for growing the food on offer, and for fashion brands to emphasize the sustainable, ethical nature of their supply chains.
4. Pick Your Storytelling Channels
Once you have built the skills necessary to craft compelling stories, and have defined the content and messaging that you wish to communicate, you need to pick the specific channels you will use.
Many companies go awry at this stage. They try to leverage every single storytelling medium available, from social media to long-form video. The reality, however, is that most channels will not be a fit for your brand’s unique value proposition, mission and target market.
Base your choice of channels on data rather than speculation or a catch-all approach. Determine which platforms your target market use most often and focus on developing the skills required to create engaging and compelling stories on them. It is far better to master a small handful of mediums than spread your resources out over many different ones, and achieve only superficial results.
Master the Art of Storytelling at EU Business School
If you are excited by the prospect of working with brands to create meaningful, captivating stories, a degree from EU Business School will provide you with all the skills and experience you need to thrive in your chosen field.
Take a look at our Bachelor of Arts in Communication & Public Relations and our MBA in Communication & Public Relations.