The Art of Brand Storytelling in Your Online Marketing Strategy

Stop using visuals to try to win customers. Tell them a story instead.

The rise of platforms like Instagram might lead you to believe that visual marketing is the direct path to customers’ hearts and higher sales. Thirty-two percent of marketers believe just that.

There’s no doubt that visual marketing is essential. The perfect picture stops people in their tracks. But you don’t want to stun customers into submission; you want to motivate them to engage with you.

See: awe-inspiring images are only the beginning of good storytelling. They’re the “wow” element that grabs their attention, but it’s good storytelling that turns gawkers into customers and customers into brand ambassadors.

Brand storytelling isn’t the future of marketing – it’s the present. Remarkable stories draw in listeners and win hearts and minds.

Keep on reading to learn more!

What Is Brand Storytelling?

Brand storytelling is the use of stories that are authentic and emotional to draw in new customers and turn them into loyal ones.

We live in an era of marketing that allows us to do that. Unlike traditional marketing tactics, our campaigns live in customers pockets. They spend hours every day waiting to discover us – and it costs them nothing to do it.

Moreover, we combine visuals and copy in equal parts to illustrative our narrative. We’re not limited by word counts, picture quality, or the number of times per day we can reach them.

Storytelling Is An Art and a Science

Storytelling sounds like a fad or a gimmick. But it’s not a mere re-labeling of traditional techniques by a new, younger generation of marketing experts. Storytelling finds its roots in neuroscience.

Telling a story does more than activating the language processing areas of our brain. Other sensory cortexes light up too as we engage with and experience the story. In fact, a story encourages your whole brain to work harder.

Why?

Because storytelling releases chemicals like dopamine, cortisol, and oxytocin in the brain. Cortisol encourages your memory, dopamine plays a role in emotional response, and oxytocin creates empathy.

All of these are the goals of marketers in creating a successful campaign.

Neuroscience recognises the impact stories have, but the conclusion remains unclear for their purposes.

Still, it makes sense. Think about the last story you heard, read, or watched. How did you feel when the story engrossed you? Did you feel like you were inside of the story?

Did your heart rate increase or the hair on your arms stand straight up? Brand storytelling has the potential to generate the same impact when done right.

Help Your Brand Story Make Hearts Race

You’ve now seen how brand storytelling is a science, but let’s dive into the art that engages the science.

A brand story isn’t a collection of action words or tone – those come later in the brand development strategy.

First, you start with the components of your story. Think of them like characters and plot devices.

Neil Patel says that a successful story needs three pieces: your reason for existence, your motivation, and a behind the scenes look at your organisation.

We believe you need to go a step further than putting together story elements and hoping they’ll work. Sure, those elements need to inform, but to share you need to think less about you and your story and more about what it means for your customers.

Create a Customer-Centric Brand Story

Customer-centricity is another of the latest content trends, and you can’t skip it when writing your brand’s story.

When we say customer-centricity, we mean content that’s valuable for your customers. Valuable content for them creates greater value for you. Brand storytelling needs to offer up something that is worth their attention and eventually their cash.

Think about your sales funnel. What do you tell customers at each level? When the customer is ready to buy, you sell them on features. What happens when your customer arrived only recently? You inspire.

In other words, brand storytelling isn’t a one-way street. It’s a communication exchange.

How do you build that exchange? We want to illustrate it by showing off another brand’s story: Nike.

How Nike Mastered the Customer-Centric Creative Brand Story

Nike’s “Just Do It” is the original genius brand story. You knew what it was; you just didn’t have the word for it yet.

Just Do It resonates in the United States and China. It is a call to action for elite-level athletes and couch-to-5k runners. Why does it inspire? Because it creates tension: you vs. the you could be.

Nike stays customer-centric by using emotional branding to inspire customers from Serena Williams to little girls on their way to their first tennis lesson.

Tips for Heart-Racing Brand Storytelling

Still struggling to short through your ideas? Narrow them down and add some oomph to your content by following these three simple tips.

Keep It Simple

Boil your idea down to its pure essence. What theme lies at the heart of what you do and why you do it? Find the tension that your customers feel and use your core to tap into it.

Keep It Customer-Focused

Whatever you do, think about what the customer needs. Why do you meet their needs? Why should it be you and not a competitor?

Think about the “why” before you jump into the how. Once you inspire a customer to look further, you can “wow” them with the details.

Use Active and Descriptive Language

Good writing means using active language that describes (without being over-descriptive). Write in the active voice. Think not about what you did or what you want to do but where you and the customer are right now.

Remember, Nike captivated the world with three simple words. Nothing is stopping you from telling your story – you only need the worlds.

Tell Your Story Through Digital Branding

Brand storytelling may be “new,” but marketing gurus like Nike started using it to dominate their competition years ago. It works because it doesn’t sell: it’s a conversation that inspires and creates value.

How will you tell your story? Let us help. Click here to learn about our digital branding services.

Questions? Comments? We have plenty of answers on our blog.

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