Stories have a generational context. Across cultures, stories have been defined as a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader.
In today’s content-rich moments, where consumer attention spans are limited and brands suffer in the sea of sameness, it is important to capture audience attention in the most compelling way. Storytelling is an essential content marketing technique that has a crucial place in brand strategy.
Long format videos based on storytelling help make content deeper and multidimensional. As brands become more complex, digital storytelling will give them a well-rounded personality.
Good storytelling for brands is a way to evolve their content and communication i.e., the way we feel (stories with emotional interest), the way we think (stories which can hold interest), the way we act (stories that bring energy to the message) and the way we behave (stories that can initiate a call to action). Eventually these stories are not just intended to be shared but also to engage consumers emotionally and rationally.
Storytelling is a creative and compelling format for digital marketing and creates constant, powerful attention hooks. The various reasons that support storytelling in marketing, are plenty:
1. Communicates the brand story: Brand purpose and personality are two critical dimensions for brand equity. Defined and well-crafted stories are a potential route to constantly communicate and clarify both brand purpose and personality dimensions.
2. Consumers want more: Stories are a part of our ecosystem, cultural ethos and upbringing. Stories are a constant need for keeping us engaged. It helps us as consumers to visualise, activate our sensorial and keep the intrigue on what’s next. A recent study revealed that 92 per cent of consumers want brand stories in the form of advertising.
3. Connecting with the right brain: Creativity and emotions are usually heightened when encountered with story-driven content format. The emotional impact will ensure higher relevance and memorability of the brand. Hence, while we push the rational reason to believe, the content format, which is emotionally driven, will ensure a higher resonance quotient.
4. Authenticity: Stories tend to be authentic and share a human flow. Authenticity is key to consumers today and the more stories feel and sound authentic, the higher the degree of an emotional bond with the consumer. This is clearly a high potential way to build future loyalty and connect.
5. Greater control: While stories do leave room for imagination and visualisation, the brands tend to control the story on the basis of content strategy. Creating such control defined by strategy is an effective way to ensure free flowing thinking and delivering on the strategy.
Using evidence from global marketing — and even marketing in the Middle East — there are enough success stories of brands that have successfully used storytelling in their social communication. To draw further inspiration:
* Google has led the most effective and popular storytelling content route. “Google stories” have pioneered the art of “human-style storytelling”. With a multitude of emotions and styles, Google Stories have created short content videos, which capture emotions of fear, courage, love and happiness. With a man telling his granddaughter that he hasn’t met his childhood friend since the India-Pakistan Partition, the granddaughter arranges an emotional meet for them — an example of using the best form of emotions and storytelling.
* BMW Films is another fine example of storytelling in the cluttered world. With acclaimed directors like Guy Ritchie working on the branded content, the series has made the right impact on viewers. With more than 100 million views, it’s ushered in a revolution almost a decade ago and is again back in action. The return of BMW Films is truly a phenomenon and if they cracked the secret code a decade back, they surely can create more magic with long form content.
In the Middle East, Kinder created “moments forever” between mothers and children talking about their lives in testimonial-style content. Mothers narrating their childhood memories, moments of love for their children and then the children in turn narrating their moments created a beautiful campaign. The eventual face-to-face encounter between the mother and her child creates a moment of heightened emotion. It is emotionally overpowering and truly brand relevant.
We can conclude that brands can appeal to the “inner child” through storytelling, in turn create loyalty and a strong emotional connect. So, let’s keep the stories flowing ...
The writer is the CEO of Human, a marketing services agency.