In this article we’ll look at how branding through storytelling works and importantly, how advocacy can help to amplify its value.
It requires more than a great product or service to build a brand that people love. Nowadays it takes more than strong sales message or ad too. If you want to create loyal fans as well as customers, then you need to consider branding through storytelling.
What is storytelling and how does it work?
Take into account every interaction that somebody has with your company, from the very first time they hear about you to the moment that they come to renew their product or service from you. This is all encompassed under the umbrella of experience.
The world’s leading companies know that owning a great brand can be just as vital to experience as developing a great product. Look at Red Bull as an example. In 2012, they spent around $440 million on events and campaigns that were not directly related to a sales message (sports events, athletes, etc). That was nearly a quarter of their huge marketing spend that racked up to over $2 billion for that year. Ask anybody at Red Bull and they’ll tell you that branding is important.
According to the Huffington Post “Brand storytelling is the most effective way to connect with your audience… it’s what helps you appeal to the emotions of your customers and prospects.”
Storytelling interacts with our emotions, which ultimately drive our buying decisions for both B2B and B2C. There are a number of options for storytelling but the difference between this and traditional marketing is that it encompasses all of the customer experience.
What stories can you tell to build your brand?
Brand building through storytelling isn’t as literal as making a story to promote your products like old-school adverts on TV, it’s more about creating a life around your brand and personifying your company. According to i-scoop, “Stories must be personal. Think about how your brand was born, what inspired you to create the company and what your personal mission is.”
Different companies use storytelling in different ways but they’re all linked by their attachment to the company’s mission. Looking at Red Bull again, they are essentially as soft-drink company, albeit with a loose definition on ‘soft’. But, the brand is closely aligned with sports and the bulk of their content represents these virtues. Sky-divers, snow-boarders and even soccer teams all represent the Red Bull story.
Other companies focus on good causes that they are involved with or their own company culture towards employees can even be the story. How often have you heard somebody talking about the amazing perks that Google and Apple employees get that have made you want to work for them?
The point is that storytelling doesn’t need to focus on your products or services and can uncover the heart of why you’re in business.
Implementing storytelling into your content marketing
With everything we’ve said, the best place to start building your brand through storytelling is right at the beginning. Think about your company’s mission and not its services. This may require some deep analysis into finding your WHY. The author and speaker Simon Sinek has gained huge notoriety in helping companies do this.
Making great products and developing revenue growth are great reasons to be in business but there is always more to it than that, there is a reason your company’s founders began. One simple question can help this, even if it can be pretty hard to answer. What is it that your company wants to change in the world? For Red Bull, their mission statement is “Giving wings to people and ideas”. At DSMN8, we want to create deeper connections between companies, employees and customers.
How you implement storytelling into your own content depends on your strategy. Video content is obviously growing in popularity, films have always managed to tap into our emotions quickly and deeply. More and more companies run podcasts too, as the year-over-year growth rates for podcast listening have been remarkably consistent, with 10 to 20% increases each year. With that said, you need to play to your strengths and what best suits your brand.
The beauty of storytelling is that it can slip effortlessly into your content marketing plan and even open new doors for inspiring great content. It’ll give your fans and followers a welcome respite from product promotion too. Storytelling can keep things fresh and breathe new life into your content machine.
How does advocacy help?
As we’ve learned, storytelling is about creating deep emotional connections with customers. Your greatest influencers in sharing your brand messages are your employees. Why? Because people find it easier to connect with other people than they do with an entity or a company. Online, content shared by employees attracts 561% more engagement than when shared by the company (LinkedIn).
For all of your content, empowering and rewarding your employees to share will amplify your presence online and also deepen their connection with your brand. From our own experience at DSMN8, ‘storytelling’ messages are shared by most employees in a program. This is different to product promotions as these can be very specific to certain employees.
You can be successful in building your brand through storytelling. You just need to get to the heart of why your company exists, create amazing content around your mission or culture and then engage employees to spread your messages.