Stories matter in life and in marketing. The reason is simple. Great stories make people feel something, and those emotions create powerful connections between the audience, the characters within the stories and the storyteller.
Stories are the perfect catalyst to building brand loyalty and brand value. When you can develop an emotional connection between consumers and your brand, your brand’s power will grow exponentially.
Create Characters People Care About
Look to nonprofit organizations for great examples of showing rather than telling in brand stories. For example, rather than simply telling consumers there are people or animals in need, nonprofit organizations show them by using emotionally-charged and descriptive language. Remember the Sarah Mclachlan SPCA commercials? It’s nearly impossible to listen to those scripts and watch those ads without feeling something powerful.
Many brand stories feature brand mascots as the primary characters, but you don’t have to create brand characters like the Geico gecko or Flo from Progressive. Instead, you can use your audience’s buyer personas as characters to drive an even deeper relationship with your brand. When your target audience can relate to your consumers, their emotional connection to your brand grows organically.
Understand the Complete Story Arc
Your brand stories shouldn’t be stand-alone short stories. Instead, they should be part of a broader, long-term story arc. Create obstacles for your characters that your target audience can identify with, and motivate your audience to root for your characters as they get through those obstacles. If you tell the complete story in one shot, you lose the opportunity to build a long-term relationship with your audience. Instead, pique their interest but don’t provide resolution immediately. Leave them hanging with a promise of more just like the best fiction authors do at the end of each chapter.
Dos Equis does a fantastic job in not only creating a great back story for its main brand character but also in keeping its audience hanging. Where will the most interesting man in the world be next and what will he be doing? You’ll have to wait for the next commercial to find out.
Stay Consistent with Your Brand Promise
Confusion is the number one brand killer, so make sure your brand stories are always consistent with your brand promise and image. If your target audience doesn’t understand how your story relates to their perceptions of your brand and their expectations for it, they’ll turn away from your brand in search of another that does consistently meet their expectations.
Red Bull provides a great example of consistency in brand storytelling. The Red Bull brand image is one of adventure, extreme sports, and freedom. All of its marketing campaigns focus on a variety of characters living the Red Bull brand lifestyle. From its World of Red Bull commercial series to Felix Baumgartner’s 128,100 foot space jump, Red Bull elicits emotions in its audience through brand stories, drives emotional connections between the audience and the brand, and reinforces the relationship with its target audience in every interaction.