Brand Strategy

Digital Brand Storytelling

The Importance of Brand Storytelling in the Digital World

You know that feeling you get when you read a really good book and wish it would never end? Or when you watch a commercial during the holidays that actually brings a tear to your eye? Or the smile that you get when you look at the photo album from your last family vacation? No matter what form it takes, a good story elicits an emotion from it’s intended audience. A great story can be… intriguing, funny, heartwarming, sad, motivational, interesting, inspirational… the key is that it makes you feel something!  

The digital nature of the world today makes it quite easy for brands to reach their targeted audience… and to tell their story in so many different ways. Given this vast opportunity, brand storytelling should absolutely be a strategic part of a company’s digital content marketing plan. It is not a one and done task. Nor is it a one story fits all world. Smart brands need to carefully craft their stories based on their target audience, social platform, media type and desired outcome.

Your Mission is Not a Brand Story
What’s not brand storytelling?  Talking straight from your company mission statement, value proposition or mission.  Those statements can providing a starting point, but typically lack the emotion tied with a powerful story.  Your brand story should give your audience a more personal glimpse of who you are, where you came from, and why you or what you do matters.  It doesn’t mean you need to write a novel (or even a short-story at that). It simply means that you need to express something uniquely you that resonates with your key stakeholders and that will command a response from them. The best stories are those which provide some value to the audience.

The Social Campfire for Brand Storytelling
The ways in which you “tell” your brand story are amplified by social networks. Think of it as a giant campfire for you to sit around and share those memorable stories that leave a lasting impression on everyone in earshot. The key to good brand storytelling is authenticity. Be real, be relatable, and be human. And above all, tell… don’t sell.  Following are just a few examples of brands telling their story in unique and interesting ways:

Instagram: Now enhanced with 15-second video, Instagram gives Vine a run for its money in video storytelling. Check out how Burberry took advantage of Instagram video soon after its release:

Brand Storytelling
And… you can tell a story with a simple picture too.  Just take a look at the Instagram photos that Red Bull shares.  They continuously tell their story through imagery… many of their photos exemplify their tagline “gives you wings”  and complement their brand personality and voice simply, yet powerfully.  Evidence that visual storytelling can speak volumes.

Brand Storytelling
Twitter:
Yes, you can tell your story in less than 140 characters! Just take a look at this powerful tweet from Michael Dell:

MichaelDellInspiration


Facebook:
From pictures to posts to paid advertisements, the vast number of ways to share your brand story are endless. Take a look at how Lululemon Athletica brings a human touch to their brand by showcasing their social media manager Sairah and the place she calls home.

Brand Storytelling
It doesn’t end there… YouTube, Vine, Pinterest, Slideshare, Prezi and other social platforms can be utilized – as well as a variety of different formats (webinars, white papers, podcasts, social ads, etc.) to tell your story.  Speak to how you started your company, highlight employees, give a virtual tour of your office, share your charitable and community outreach initiatives, or capture a day-in-the-life of a customer.  And if at first you don’t succeed, try again.  The nature of social media allows us the ability to continuously try new things with very low investment. Not every story you tell will be great. But if you keep telling them, eventually you will learn what strikes a chord with the people sitting around your campfire.

How will you tell your brand story? Thanks for reading!  If you liked this article, we encourage you to join our community to receive our email updates.  We’d love to hear your thoughts on brand storytelling as well.  Please share your comments below.

Darcy Schuller is the Chief Digital Marketing and Brand Strategist at Suvonni, an innovative boutique digital marketing agency in Chicago. As a leader in the digital marketing space, Darcy is passionate about helping clients build stronger brands through elevated customer engagement, social media marketing, content marketing and dynamic web experiences. Darcy is a respected marketing thought leader, speaker and consultant.