Once upon a time, advertising was a linear one-way conversation. The brand controlled the messaging and the customer had little say. But in today’s multi-channel digital kingdom, brands have to work a lot harder to gain the attention, loyalty and advocacy of their mobile-dependent audience.
Technology has changed how brands must engage with customers; conversations are now two-way, 24/7, and consumers are more empowered than ever before. Customers aren’t judging brands and businesses by their product or service offering anymore, but also by their tone of voice, the relationships they build and the stories they tell. For brands to survive in the digital age and rise above the noise, they must be creative, spark conversation, and produce content that brings their story to life.
Here are my 5 Cinderella steps towards telling your brand story:
Step 1 – Profile your audience
You want to capture the attention, loyalty and love of your audience… but how can you do this if you don’t know who they are? Understanding your audience and how to reach them is essential for a brand to succeed in the digital age. The taxi company Uber, for example, know that they are targeting young professionals who expect a seamless and personalised user experience (both in taxi and online) so their messaging and brand story are targeted to resonate with this audience. Remember: make your customer the hero of your story.
Step 2 – Find your emotion
Once you understand your audience, you need to find your brand’s emotional truth. What will resonate with your audience? How do you differentiate yourself from other brands? What makes you unique? Dove found their emotion very successfully, and created the most watched brand video ever: Dove Real Beauty Sketches. This brilliant piece of storytelling connects with Dove’s audience, empathising with women’s feelings about beauty. Remember: the best stories are honest and human.
Step 3 – Design a Narrative
The most powerful brand stories, like the most memorable fairytales, have an engaging plot. ‘Who are your main characters? What are the challenges you face? How have you overcome them?’ A good narrative conveys your business purpose, perspective and personality. TOMs (the shoes company that donates a pair of shoes to an impoverished child for every pair bought) are a great example of how sharing the brand’s story can strengthen the bond between brand and consumer. Remember: people aren’t just buying your product or service. They are buying into the culture, the people and the story too.
Step 4 – Select Your Medium
Once you’ve considered your narrative and the deep motivation behind your brand, you should use content to bring your story to life. Think carefully about the channels you use and the content you produce, making sure to streamline and co-ordinate your messaging. ‘Do they use Pinterest?’ ‘Are they Snapchat users?’ One Dollar Shave Club told their story skillfully through the medium of video. With more touchpoints and shorter attention spans than ever before, brands need to engage quickly and creatively with their customers – with the right content, at the right time and through the right channel. Remember: content is at the heart of the future of digital storytelling.
Step 5 – Analyse Results
Thanks to digital, we can measure the impact of marketing and advertising better than ever before. Listen to your audience’s response, read their comments, assess which bits of your story get the most social buzz – and use this insight to guide your future strategy. Over time, you can shape the conversation, telling more chapters of your brand story. And remember: your customers tell your story just as much as you do.
Send me a tweet @VictoriaCrumpet to discuss digital storytelling in more depth.