“Stories are 3D – they include the story teller and the audience both in the experience and transport them together to a third place, a shared experience. In fact, there’s brain science to support this premise. When you experience a story, the neurons in your brain fire the same way they would if you were engaged in the story yourself. Stories not only spark attention, they inspire empathy.” ~ Katya Andersen
Customers are the crux of brand storytelling. A good narrative is not an ad or a sales pitch—it has an emotional factor that harnesses the communal element of storytelling, bringing people together and connecting them through shared experiences. A powerful and effective brand story communicates to customers how your service can impact their daily lives. Identify and study the patterns of the people your products serve, and use this understanding to develop a brand narrative.
The leading focus of a brand narrative is a protagonist who is relatable to the reader. This main character should be an authentic reflection of your customers. When coming up with an effective story, identify what the common attributes are between your brand’s protagonists and each segment of your target audience. What are they currently doing, and why? How would they benefit from your product? What interests and goals do they share? With layered marketing research and interviewing of your frontline customer support or sales team you will be able to construct protagonists for your brand story who reflect your target audiences.
After identifying a compelling protagonist, you must define how your brand makes customers—your lead characters—feel. What concerns do they have, and what challenges do they face? Because your protagonist represents your clients, you can only reach these answers by listening. Collect customer feedback from all external facing departments like sales and support to ascertain your customer’s desires, frustrations, beliefs, attitudes and values. How a person feels about your brand usually determines whether or not they will purchase your product.
Good stories always inspire, and can arouse positive emotions that are ultimately the deciding factor when it comes to your client’s purchasing decisions. Bland and obvious marketing without a clear storyline, on the other hand, can inspire indifference. So center your marketing content on these emotions, and create a positive image of the brand for your audience. When you tell a story that embodies real and human challenges, you create an experience that resonates with your customers.
The best way to ensure your marketing resounds with your audience is to tell the story of the brand through the lives of your users, clients or customers. How does your marketing content inspire your audience to tell the story of how your brand transformed their life to their network of colleagues or friends? Good storytelling isn’t directly about you or your brand. The customer defines the brand, and as such must be able to easily insert her/his lives into the brand story of transformation. Your company serves as the mentor to their situation, offering the instruments to help them successfully resolve their concerns or frustrations. Customers are the heroes of your story.
Storytelling in general is people-centric, and so good brand marketing is also customer-centric. Just as most stories evolve as human needs and behaviors change, so should you continue to listen and adapt your brand story so that it continuously inspires prospects to join your company’s brand story as customers.
Remember human-to-human connections are what drive businesses. Brand storytelling is one technique that can reinforce these bonds. Customers have more purchasing options than ever, and as a result are demanding companies deliver marketing content that meets their distinct needs.
Without a story, your target customers will remain indifferent to your business and your content. Too many businesses out there use conventional rhetoric to formulate their content strategies, with little regard to brand storytelling. These are the 60% of brands who are seeing little results from their content marketing efforts. Without a story, you are simply one in a million.