Storytelling is an essential part of human life. Whether we tell stories to entertain, to pass down traditions or for educational purposes – every single person and culture in the world has been impacted by stories and storytelling in some way or another.
According to an article from Harvard Business Publishing: “Telling stories is one of the most powerful means that leaders have to influence, teach, and inspire. Storytelling forges connections among and between people and conveys the culture, history, and values that unite people.”
Storytelling is also essential when it comes to marketing your business. Being an engaging storyteller can make the difference between an average marketing campaign and a memorable one. Consumers love a good story; if your brand doesn’t have one, chances are the audience will not stay interested.
The good news? Storytelling is a skill that can be developed. Keep reading to learn how to become an expert brand storyteller in ten actionable steps.
When Were The First Stories Told?
The first step to being a great storyteller is to understand where storytelling comes from. Humans have told stories in some form since the beginning of time. Storytelling started with visual elements, moved to oral storytelling and later written and multimedia stories were added. According to a blog article from Words Alive, the Chauvet cave in France dates back to 36,000 years ago and is the oldest representation of visual storytelling found. The article goes on to say that in 700 B.C. the first recorded stories were found, including the “Epic of Gilgamesh” and “The Iliad.”
Though the mediums of storytelling have changed throughout the centuries, stories and storytelling at their core have remained an important form of communication.
Why Is Storytelling Important In Marketing?
Now that we have a better understanding of the history of storytelling and stories, what do they have to do with marketing and branding your company?
Think back to a time as a consumer when an ad or social media post really stuck with you. Chances are, you are thinking of an advertising or marketing example that included an incredibly strong story.
Though it is nearly impossible to get an exact count, it is estimated that in 2021, the average person encountered between 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day. With so much content available to consume, it can be hard to make noise in the marketing world. In order to stand out from the crowd your brand needs to tell a very memorable story, often in a short amount of time.
But how do you make your story stand out among thousands of others?
10 Steps To Become A Memorable Brand Storyteller
1.) Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes
One of our most important pieces of advice is also one of our simplest: Take a step back from the marketing and brand perspective and put yourself in the shoes of the consumer.
Think about what you like to see and what stands out to you when hearing or seeing other brands. Earlier in this article, we had you think back to a marketing or advertising campaign that stuck with you. What about that story resonated with you so much that you still haven’t forgotten it even with the thousands of ads you see every day?
Thinking about storytelling from the viewpoint of the people who will receive that story is crucial to becoming a memorable brand storyteller.
2.) Be clear and concise
People have short attention spans. If you are already in the communications field you know the importance of every single word you use. Storytelling for marketing is no different. Depending on the medium or form of your marketing piece you may have a specific word count or time limit you need to work within, but even if you don’t, remember that every single word counts.
Another way to make your story clear and concise is to make sure that you have one overarching point. If you are not clear on the point of the story, it will definitely not be clear to the audience.
3.) Consistency is key
While all of your stories should be unique and different to some extent, they should have some consistent overarching brand theme they fit within, otherwise your audience will be very confused about your brand and most likely will not choose to support it. This article from All Good Tales also mentions that while overall you do need to stay consistent in your brand storytelling, it is also necessary to revisit your brand’s overarching story every once in a while to make sure it still fits and is relevant to what your company stands for.
Being consistent with your brand storytelling will help your audience and consumers become familiar with your brand. Brand familiarity, if done correctly, can lead to brand trust.
4.) Each story your brand tells should include four elements
In one of our recent blog articles, we discussed the four elements of a strong story. For more details, read it here. In short, these are the elements to include in each brand story you tell.
- Theme: Know your industry
- Plot: Know your story
- Structure: Present readable content
- Characters: Include your audience
5.) Add emotion: Tell a story from the heart
Tapping into your audience’s emotions is key to telling a story they will not forget. Consumers are much more likely to remember an ad or marketing element that makes them feel something. When you tell an emotional story, it adds depth to your brand that consumers really appreciate. When choosing a business to support, people often prefer the ones that make them feel a strong emotion.
Neurofied digs deeper into the science behind emotional marketing with the article linked here.
6.) Mediums: Be intentional about where your story is told
Today, there are so many different mediums a brand can use to tell stories. It can be overwhelming to choose where to start. Radio, television, blog articles and social media platforms are some of the many storytelling platforms to choose from.
Start by choosing a broad medium: oral, written, visual or a mixture of all three.
To narrow it down from there, think about the audience you are trying to reach. Do they tune into the radio or are you more likely to reach them through Snapchat? Different mediums can also reach a different number of people. If you want to reach as many people as possible, it would be worth looking into the number of users each platform has. If you are a small brick and mortar business in Seattle, for example, you will want to target a much more specific audience than a national business wanting to reach people from all across the country.
Another aspect worth noting is that even if you choose to tell your story on multiple mediums, you may have to adapt the story to fit each specific platform. For example, the story that you tell on a television advertisement might need to be adapted to fit better on Facebook.
Being intentional about where your story is told and not just putting it everywhere you can think of is a necessary step to ensure your story is doing the most possible for your brand.
7.) Stand out from the crowd
Unless your business fits into an incredibly niche sector, chances are you are competing against hundreds or even thousands of other companies. So how do you make your brand’s story stand out from the crowd?
Think about what makes your company unique and incorporate that into your storytelling. Why was the company started? Often people start a business because of something personal they may have experienced. Incorporate that into your storytelling! This can also be a chance to partner with a nonprofit who may have a more compelling story than your own. If you can find a partnership that makes sense, make it happen and tell a story together.
8.) Keep your story relevant
As we mentioned earlier, attention spans are short. With the rise of social media, something can be relevant one minute and not the next. Here are a few ways to keep your brand’s storytelling as relevant as possible.
- Be bold: Take risks! As long as it fits within your company’s morals and makes sense, doing something big can be an incredible way to stay relevant.
- Keep up with media trends: Constantly monitoring the media, especially in your brand’s sector, is crucial.
- Try new things: Along with being bold, don’t be afraid to try something new. Since trends are constantly changing, don’t be afraid to change your storytelling methods!
9.) Be inclusive in your storytelling
In a lot of circumstances you want to nail down a specific audience as a marketer, but you also want to make sure you are as inclusive as possible when doing so. Try to limit bias as much as you can in your brand storytelling, and don’t use words or phrases that are not commonly known to a large audience.
If you use photos of people or have real people acting in your stories, make sure they are diverse in all senses of the word. Forbes shares an important article about how to achieve equity in brand storytelling. They share that the best first step to equity in storytelling is “to invite diverse storytellers at all levels of the storytelling process to the table.”
If your goal is to create value for all sorts of communities, which it should be, then input from said communities is necessary to the process.
10.) Consume all kinds of content
Consuming content as a content creator is absolutely essential. If you are a writer, you have probably heard many times that the best way to become a better writer is to read. The same goes for storytelling, especially if you are in a creative storytelling rut. Consuming stories from other brands can be a helpful way to get out of any slump.