Storytelling for the sake of brand marketing isn’t a new concept. Your grandparents and their parents were exposed to it in newspapers, radio commercials, other forms of media and in-brand experiences.
What is new is using storytelling as part of online content to market a brand, which has become a strategic priority for many companies. The problem is that not many people who specialize in online brand marketing have a grasp on the art of writing stories effectively for the Web. A lot of marketers try and fail because they neglect the basics of storytelling.
The best brand storytellers use the following elements of fiction and creative writing to help a brand build an online identity, engage consumers and make an emotional connection:
When a writer crafts a story, she doesn’t tell you in the passages about how great her tale is and the reasons why. She convinces you that the story is great by making it interesting. When you’re storytelling with the aim to market a brand, you don’t make the tale interesting by writing ads, pitches or marketing materials.
Successful brand-marketing stories that are interesting express the personality of a target persona (the brand’s ideal consumer) or someone the target persona cares about. This personality is what makes a connection with the readers and captures interest, not the greatness of a company, product or service.
Every good story has a hero that readers want to see succeed. In a list of story-writing tips by author Kurt Vonnegut on the BrainPickings.org website, Vonnegut says, “Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.” In brand marketing, this character isn’t a company, product or service. Instead, it’s a fictional character or third person that connects on an emotional level with the readers in a way that makes them want to follow the adventure, ideas and lessons that you share in the story.
In brand marketing, you can’t just tell a reader that the main character had a problem that was promptly solved with the help of the brand. Like a regular story, a brand’s story must have a strong opening setup (beginning), climax (middle) and a resolution (end). Make every sentence, as Vonnegut puts it, “reveal character or advance the action.” A story that’s unified and has a forward sense of motion is one that engages the readers. If the consumer enjoys reading about the character’s journey, she’ll naturally talk about it with others (hopefully with coveted social media shares) and become more invested in the brand.
Today’s consumers aren’t very trusting. They’ve learned that people will say anything to say a buck and that not everything on the Internet is true. In the same way, when a good writer creates a novel or short story, he uses his own natural writing style. He doesn’t pretend that he’s Shakespeare or use a particular writing style for the sake of making his own work stand out.
In the article “Novel Writing: “7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great” on the Writer’s Digest website, Elizabeth Sims points out that a good storyteller knows that the readers who appreciates his writing style is his target demographic. When it comes to writing a story for brand marketing, the tale has to be honest and founded on the reality of brand. When brand stories are honest and transparent, they’re consistent and creative without being confusing or seeming farfetched.
Leave Them Wanting More
Your favorite restaurant makes you feel satisfied and complete. It leaves you wanting more because you can’t get enough of the great service or the mouth-watering food. The restaurant didn’t become your favorite eatery because it promised a three-course meal, but in the end, made you wait until “next time” for dessert.
Similarly, when you leave a reader wanting more in a story, you don’t necessarily leave them in suspense. In brand marketing, suspense is a consumer’s waste of time because in today’s fast-paced world, instant gratification is king. When you write a story, leave the reader with a complete sense of understanding, but use perpetual marketing to make readers come back for more because they look forward to the brand’s next installment.
Creative storytelling in brand marketing helps fill the emotional wells within consumers. When you do it right, it energizes new consumers, delivers a sought-after solution and converts leads. At the same time, a great brand story continues to satisfy and engage active customers, thus keeping them loyal.