Brand storytelling

It’s 2013, and over the past few years, ‘storytelling’ has become a buzzword in the land of advertising.

Gather round: a tale in storytelling.

It’s 2013, and over the past few years, ‘storytelling’ has become a buzzword in the land of advertising. While nothing new, it’s hugely powerful. Storytelling is about communicating in a way that captures our imaginations and moves us in a way logic can’t. Gather round as we take a look at what it is and how brands can use it.

Where it all began.

Our whole lives are enriched with stories. As a kid, my favourite book was Winnie Allfours. I knew it off by heart. Winnie ate so many vegetables that she turned into a pony. I wanted to be a pony. I ate so many vegetables that I made myself sick. Sure, I didn’t grow two extra legs, but I did get a day off school. My point is, stories captivate us and develop our imaginations from a young age.

Brands work in a similar way. As consumers, we remember stories and experiences over facts and features.

Once upon a brand.

Storytelling is a brand-building tool, not a selling tool. It’s about developing that gut feeling people get when they think about your brand. It’s about emotions.

In advertising and marketing, storytelling isn’t about writing long copy that starts with ‘once upon a brand’. It’s giving any piece of communication a narrative and some personality – whether it’s a manifesto or blog post, down to packaging, product descriptions, videos and even business cards.

It might be that a brand has one overarching story that flows through everything they do. Or every campaign might tell a different story. Or they might tell many stories. Remember, you can’t pigeonhole it. People will tell you that you need a beginning, middle and end. Sometimes that’s true. But brand storytelling is different from screenplays. It’s a way of writing in an engaging, imaginative manner and it’s not a distinct marketing tool by itself. It filters down to what you say in 140 characters on Twitter – acting as an extension of your story, helping to build a bigger brand picture.

Let’s look at one of our clients, FieldCandy. They’re a design-led brand of tents and they’re epically cool. The product descriptions we wrote for their website don’t directly describe the product, they build a charming picture around it:

“There are some sacred places in the world. But for a man, nowhere more so than his shed. A sanctuary, an escape where he can leave things how he wants, without fear of being nagged. Men, this is your tent, do with it as you please.”

wk_fieldcandy_photo_shed

What’s your story?

One of my favourite quotes is: “your brand is only as strong as the stories people tell about you”. It’s true. Whether you’ve had a hand in creating them or not, they exist. Google it. What do people say about your brand? The real question you need to ask is, do they reflect the story you want to be told?

Think:

Where do you come from?
Did you start hand making lemonade and selling it for 20p at the end of your driveway, before becoming a global brand? Back-stories are a great way to bring authenticity to your brand. Play on your heritage.

What do you believe in?
Do you believe that everyone takes themselves too seriously and we need to have more fun? Do you believe that all ingredients should be Fairtrade and handpicked from the deepest depths of the amazon rainforest? Tell people. We all need something to believe in, and when people see their beliefs reflected in your story, you’ll have a captive audience.

How do you show this?
It isn’t just about having a great philosophy on your website. Do you show it through your packaging? Carry your values out across every single touch point.

Stories go far deeper than facts and features.

They’re able to move people’s hearts, minds, feet – and wallets. Stories give you an edge. With a story, you’re a competitor. Or a market leader.

Besides, if you don’t think stories are powerful, try getting a kid to go to bed without one.