Brand Storytelling: Finding the Diamond in the Rough With Your Content Marketing

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Brand Storytelling: Finding the Diamond in the Rough With Your Content Marketing

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JANUARY 2018

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It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Your brand’s story may not be A Tale of Two Cities, but brand storytelling is one proven and effective approach to creating shareable and effective content. Sure – you may have some excellent tips in your series of “Top Ten” lists, but if you aren’t consistently offering your readers something new or exciting, they will quickly lose interest. When you work to optimize your content marketing in 2018, don’t forget rule number one: you’ve got to keep it interesting. The best way to do that is with brand storytelling.

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Photograph by Veneratio via Bigstock

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Marketing Memory Lane, or What I Learned from Mad Men

For most people working in marketing today, the extent of what we know about the so-called “golden age” of marketing comes via watching Mad Men. I remember seeing the old ads for Lucky Strike cigarettes in antique shops, and my grandparents recalled slogans and jingles fondly from their younger days. When I watched Mad Men, the Lucky Strike advertising session in the pilot was already familiar territory for me. Others may have watched the show for the character development, the philandering and misogyny of a bygone age, but I always watched it for the marketing and advertising tips. Don Draper taught me one thing: if you’re going to effectively advertise, you’ve got to create a feeling.

This kind of marketing peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. Metal signs would show the most beautiful women, and the happiest, drinking a fresh, ice-cold Coca-Cola, and the immediate reaction would be, “Wow, I could go for one of those.” You weren’t just buying a cold beverage, you were buying that story – that feeling of carefree happiness. Marketing today isn’t quite so easy, because today most of the power in marketing lies with the consumer and not with the marketer. Still, there are lessons to be learned from creating a feeling, just like in those vintage ads.

Brand Storytelling and Your Content Marketing in 2018

In days gone by, a business that had a bad product or poor customer service may have to deal with a nasty phone call or an angry letter. Limited word-of-mouth and threats of “I’ll never shop here again” was the extent of a negative customer review, most of the time. It wasn’t much to lose sleep about. Today, however, that power dynamic has shifted dramatically. Today, we have Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Google, and suddenly a single disappointed customer gets to shout “I’ll never shop here again” to the world. The internet is now a global soapbox, and customers have the floor.

Today, rather than telling people how to feel, content marketing in 2018 relies on tapping into how your customers feel already, and developing content based on those existing feelings. You need to speak to the interests and behaviors that already exist with your customers. Brand storytelling isn’t about conveying the feeling of your brand anymore. It’s about connecting your brand to your customers.

By using brand storytelling in your 2018 content marketing plan, you will work to create content that resonates with the feelings that your target audience already has. You’ll be able to get them on your side, and make your brand feel more solid. Storytelling marketing lends itself to trustworthiness, likability, and success. The key, of course, is finding the right story to tell.

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“Brand storytelling isn’t about conveying the feeling of your brand anymore. It’s about connecting your brand to your customers.”

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Using Brand Storytelling to Create Interest

When you’re working on your content marketing plan for 2018, you’ll want to take a serious look at who your target audience is. Think of this part of the process like deciding what gift to buy for someone. You may go shopping and see lots of things you would love to have yourself – but would you really want to buy your wife an R/C helicopter?

Instead, think of your customers, what they want, what they like, and how you can deliver on those wishes in your own brand storytelling. Here are some tips on putting together a compelling story for your 2018 content marketing.

  1. Be Honest. First of all, transparency and honesty are paramount in your brand storytelling. Sure, you’re telling stories, but those stories need to be rooted in reality. The primary pillars of branding are consistency, persistence, and restraint – and if your brand storytelling is not consistent, consumers will notice, and they will turn away. Creativity is great, but not at the expense of honesty and consistency. Confusion kills brands.

  2. It’s All About Personality. Brand storytelling puts a human touch on your brand. Your brand stories aren’t sales pitches or ads. They aren’t run of the mill marketing materials. Brand stories are told by your brand’s persona, using a writer’s real personality. Telling a boring story that is essentially just an appendage on a sales pitch will lose readers quickly. Stories brimming with personality, however, will find a willing audience.

  3. Create Compelling Characters. Allstate has a character named “Mayhem” that is quite effective in telling their brand’s story in a variety of humorous and memorable ways. Mayhem is a great character, but you don’t need to create a mascot to tell your story. In your content marketing in 2018, think of all the characters you already have. Your buyer personas – who buys your product, and why – can be excellent characters to offer perspective in your content. Your employees and their viewpoints can also make effective characters. However you choose to incorporate character in your brand storytelling, those characters should help your audience to make an emotional connection to your brand.

Brand storytelling continues to be an excellent approach to content marketing in 2018. When you start working on your stories, be careful not to give everything away at once. Just like telling a real story, your brand’s story should always leave the audience wanting more. Find ways to incorporate “To be continued” style hooks in your brand’s story to keep readers interested. As with all of your branding efforts, the goal of content marketing in 2018 is to surround your customers with experiences involving your brand, so that they can more easily picture themselves interacting with your brand. By telling compelling stories with compelling and memorable characters they can relate to, you will give your customers more ways that they can enjoy your brand. Soon, you’ll find yourself realizing your brand goals – and then it really will be the best of times.

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Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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