The Power of a Good Story

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today” says Robert McKee, author of Storynomics: Story-Driven Marketing in the Post-Advertising World.

Cave paintings tell us that humans have shared stories since the dawn of time. More recently, storytelling has become popular in the art and science of branding. Changes in how people access entertainment and news has led advertisers to cultivate new and creative ways to reach those consumers. One way of those ways has been to capitalize on the idea that ‘everyone loves a good story.’

Whether you are on the marketing team at Coca-Cola or own a local bakery, consumers want to hear your company’s story and even become part of it.

If you are looking to strengthen your company’s relationship with its supporters and connect with a larger market, consider the power of a good story.

Why use storytelling to market your brand?

Telling a story about your product or service is likely to set you apart from your competitors who simply say, “here is this product we made, go buy it!” A good story provides your consumers insight into your company’s history, employees, and future goals. It is also in a story that you can illustrate your company’s ethics. When your consumers' personal beliefs align with those of your company, they feel inclined to participate by purchasing your product.

Using storytelling in the context of marketing your product also requires you to consider your market’s needs and interests, which is never a bad thing.

What makes a good story? Here are a few essentials:

  1. Relatability: A good story really comes down to emotional connection. While companies can list enticing facts and figures, consumers still need a reason to care about the product and company. A good example of a relatable brand is Burt’s Bees. Their tag line is “what you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.” This notion of connecting your own body with nature would likely provoke an emotional reaction from potential Burt’s Bees’ customers.

    Another example is Bark Box. They are company that is “Inspired by dogs (and their people)” providing a dog toy and treat subscription box to their consumers. Their brand has a strong relatability factor as many of us want to make our dogs happy.

  2. Inclusion: Consumers like to think they are part of a greater effort. If they believe in your company’s product they want to play a role in its success. A good example of a brand that includes its consumers is Blue Apron. On their website Blue Apron includes an Instagram feed of “Our Community of Home Chefs” featuring families, kids, dogs, etc. making their Blue Apron meal together. Not only does this spread Blue Apron’s brand on Instagram, but it makes their subscribers feel as though they are part of the story.

  3. Resolution: How does your story end? In a lot of cases it will be your company’s goal today. It’s one thing to have a mission but to communicate why that has become your mission will peak your consumers' interest and support.

Where to Tell Your Story

With the power of the internet there are many platforms on which you can tell your story. Advertisers have been creating traditional 30 second – 1-minute TV ads that now reach markets as pre-roll on YouTube videos or shows on Hulu.

Social media has also become an unstoppable marketing force:

  1. Facebook is a platform to build your company’s brand and tell its story. You can do so by posting to your organic followers or reaching your larger market by designing paid-for advertisements.

  2. Instagram is the best platform for visual storytelling, and a picture in the right feeds really is worth a thousand words. With companies and individuals reaching followers in the millions, content that tells your story can reach your market organically. Instagram has proven to be one if the best platforms for consumers to help generate a company’s brand by posting about it on their personal accounts.

  3. Twitter now allows 240 characters which is a decent amount to provide at least a chapter of your larger story and target your demographic.

It is unlikely that you will be able to tell your company’s story through just one of these outlets but your story will come across in the culmination of consistent branding across your social media, website, ads for tv, charitable acts, etc.

Genuine Storytelling

No matter the platform on which you are telling your story, it is important that it is genuine. It is easy for consumers to see through a story that has been fabricated and that will only reflect poorly on your brand. By sharing the true story of your company, its personality is sure to shine through.