Brand Blog Post HeaderEarlier this month, when we were discussing brand authenticity, you may have noticed that “authentic” brands share at least one common characteristic: They’re storytellers. Today’s open and honest brands do a fantastic job of creating a narrative that transcends their product in order to create emotion in their customers.

A new infographic by Kirsty Sharman helps us understand how brand marketing and communications has shifted to storytelling. For a quick recap of the history of brand storytelling, see below. In this post, we’ve revisited some of our favorite moments and eras…

Sponsored Content Introduced in 1930s
In the 1930s, radio exploded onto the mainstream. “At the start of the decade 12 million American households owned a radio, and by 1939 this total had exploded to more than 28 million,” reports PBS.

From a brand storytelling perspective, one of the most interesting aspects of this era is the fact that many radio shows had corporate sponsors. Sponsors were able to align their brand identity (their story) with the overarching story of the sponsored radio show.

Today, this model is fully exploited by content producers like VICE, which produces brand-sponsored content to the tune of several hundred million dollars per year. Our prediction? Brand-sponsored content will continue to grow as traditional advertising models are pushed to the margins and advertisers search for new “non-sales-y” ways of communicating.

MTV Launches in 1981
As Sharman writes, “Channels like MTV ushered in a new type of advertising: the consumer tunes in for the advertising message, rather than it being a by-product or afterthought.” The original content on MTV was pure advertising, and the public loved it. This was a significant jump forward from the 1930s where advertisers sponsored content. By 1981, the sponsorship had become the content.

“Social Influencers” Term Coined In 2010
These gradual developments in the definitions of “sponsorship” and “content” reached a new peak in 2010 when the term “social influencer” was coined to describe individuals who effectively deliver the sponsor’s content on the sponsor’s behalf.

To phrase that differently… social media has allowed the consumer to become an effective brand storyteller on the brand’s behalf. While your brand’s story is still your responsibility, you now have the opportunity to rapidly expand your reach by providing your fans with story assets, including videos, articles, photos, events, resources, and more. These opportunities will continue to grow for brands that are authentic and honest.

Check out the full infographic below.

The History of Brand Storytelling – Infographic

What’s Your Favorite Era of Brand Storytelling?
I call this era The Age of Influence because consumers are able to give and receive lateral, peer-to-peer information. The days of brand-authority are long gone, opening up new opportunities for brand-authenticity. What about you? What’s your favorite era of brand storytelling?

Read More: