July 19, 2021
“Story is a yearning meeting an obstacle.” Robert Olen Butler
Stories have been around as long as humans have. From big-budget blockbusters to the chalk drawings of cavemen, stories have always played a unique role in our lives.
When we hear a good story, our brains trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone that raises levels of compassion, love, and empathy. By empathising with the hero of a story, our mindset mirrors his or hers; we subconsciously place ourselves within the narrative and take the protagonist’s place.
People don’t want facts and figures. They want a narrative they can invest themselves in - a well-written story with compelling characters and a satisfying outcome.
By incorporating storytelling into your advertising, you’re inviting your audience to relate to your narrative and discover how your product solves whatever problem they’re facing. It allows you to build a deeper connection with your audience, fostering brand trust, and creates a more cohesive brand identity.
There are a few universal rules for good brand storytelling:
It’s an easy mistake to make. You want to show off your brand’s best qualities, so you spend the whole ad gushing about how well it can solve your customer’s problems and improve their life.
Unfortunately, that’s not what people want to see. They want to see themselves as the hero solving their own problems. Your brand should instead be presented as a catalyst - a mentor guiding them towards success. Think Mr Miyagi from The Karate Kid teaching Daniel the skills he needs to win the karate tournament.
It’s important for your branding to reflect its core values. When creating a narrative for your campaign, you should make sure the message it sends aligns with that of your brand.
For example, if you run a healthy cereal company, it may focus on values of ‘wholesomeness’ and ‘humble living’. Your campaign should therefore tell a story that incorporates those values. Perhaps it tells the story of a woman escaping the rat race and embracing a simpler lifestyle. She moves from the big city to a quiet cottage in the countryside, and we see her enjoying a bowl of the cereal as she looks at the wildlife outside her window. The advert should emphasise the negative aspects of a fast-paced city life - noise, pollution, stress - and the positive aspects of rural living - peace, quiet, nature.
By doing this, your audience will associate your brand with the values portrayed, creating positive connotations and a more distinct brand identity.
Although you’re writing an advertisement, don’t forget that it’s also a story. To engage an audience, a story must be interesting, relatable, and spur emotion. The emotion doesn’t necessarily have to be positive - it can even be sadness or anger. The important thing, from a marketing perspective, is that the emotion incites action.
For example, an animal charity may create an advertisement telling the story of an abandoned dog that gets rescued by the charity. The ad will incite sympathy and sadness on the dog’s behalf, anger at the owner who abandoned it, and then relief when the dog gets rescued. The sadness and anger encourage the viewer to want to right the injustice, and the following relief comes from knowing that there’s a way to do this - by donating to the charity.
Storytelling marketing has grown in popularity the past few years, for good reason. It’s a powerful way of engaging audiences and getting them invested in your product. Knowing how to write an effective narrative will let you create advertisements that stir emotion and encourage your audience to take action. This will ultimately help boost your brand’s reputation, define its identity, and generate more sales.
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UKB Marketing specialises in building results-driven marketing campaigns that convert and engage with your target audience, leading to increased revenue.