How content marketing helps brands to get under the skin of their customers

Paul Button

Chief Executive Officer

Brands have been storytelling for generations. If you want to build an emotional connection with your consumers, great storytelling makes you unforgettable.

When you pick up a newspaper or scroll through your newsfeed, what catches your attention? Is it the latest political scandal? Local events? The weather? It’s likely that you’re more inclined to stop scrolling when you hit a human interest story - something like “Local boy overcomes [insert great struggle here] to capture the win for his team”, for example.

Consumers crave the same emotional connection with the companies they buy products from. Brands then often see “authenticity” as a currency by which they can persuade users to buy their products. In this media-savvy world, this approach is infinitely more effective than a flashy neon “Buy our product now!” communication.

With personalised content, consumers feel a connection with the brand and this sparks loyalty. Consumers like being reminded there are real people behind the brand and that the company has stories to tell. Airbnb recently implemented this method through their YouTube series "Airbnb Host Stories", which gives guests a deeper look into the lives of their hosts. This style of storytelling works for a brand like Airbnb because their whole company revolves around their customer experience. The brand’s transparency through storytelling allows the guests to feel comfortable putting their money into a company that shows they care for their customers.

The younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, express that they want authenticity with advertising and content. Storytelling provides just that as each person’s story differs from the next person’s. Every brand has their own story and it is best to share that message with them and not at them. Include your consumer in your brand experience and show them what your brand truly values, which is more than just sales.

Brand storytelling can be hugely effective, but you need to be strategic. Simply reporting any human interest story isn’t enough. You need to “own” the stories and create a narrative that’s relevant to your brand and its purpose.

Writing the story

Once you determine how you want your brand to portray the stories, you can finally start seeking out the narratives. Similarly to how journalists write an article, you should consider the 5 W’s and H: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Who is your source or centre of attention? What story are they trying to tell? When is the right time for their story to be shared? Where is the story located? Why are they telling this story? How is their story helping your brand?

These are questions that need to be considered when figuring out what content you want associated with your brand. You can then decide what angle you want your stories to have. Remember, you want the stories to be unforgettable.

In LinkedIn’s first official marketing campaign, In It Together, they showcased users’ stories who do not always fit the “white collar” stereotype of the website. LinkedIn highlighted different types of success in order for their users to feel more connected with the brand and their experience using it. The company wanted a project that resonated with all their consumers, and storytelling was the best way for them to do so, even though it was a new method for them.

Promoting the story

A powerful story will be read. You want the stories to be read, but you also them to resonate in your audience’s minds. In our social media driven world today, it would be most beneficial for the story to be shared on your consumers’ profiles. Your followers will then share the content with their followers and so forth. Human interest stories can spread like wildfire on social media, so be sure to promote the story on every social media platform your company has if you want peak engagement.

Examples of Brand Storytelling

A brand that has successfully utilised the storytelling technique is Nike, which they have been doing for decades. If you look at their Instagram profile, around half of the images do not even show a clear Nike sign.

All the images have people in them and not all are celebrities. Nike's videos tell a story. Nike's captions tell the person’s story. Consumers can relate to posts on a personal level and think, “That could be me.”

One of Nike’s viral videos, “Dream Crazier”, spread instantly in February 2019 after it showcased women being tested in their athletic careers. While it mainly shows professional athletes, such as Serena Williams and Megan Rapinoe, there are also clips of young girls playing sports. As a viewer, it feels empowering and inspiring to watch these women break traditional gender roles. Nike associates their brand with this message and the emotions that go along with it, which is the ultimate goal of brand storytelling.

Consumers want to feel like their investments are going towards a worthy cause. When you attach a story, emotion or platform to your brand, audiences will find value in your company and become interested in what you have to offer. And, on top of it all, you give these stories that might not otherwise be told a medium to be shared through.

Work with a digital agency that understands your needs

There is a real art to storytelling and developing a narrative that will engage and activate your audience. To build an emotional connection with your consumers, get in touch.

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