Why Brand Storytelling is So Important

Marketing is no longer just about pre-sales messaging, thanks in no small part to the central role content plays in modern marketing strategies. Marketing teams should feel and be empowered to participate in and champion the total customer experience, so that a customer's journey with a brand is so positive and so fullfilling that the customer can't help but to become a return customer and eventual brand advocate. 

There's a large movement currently for brands to "tell their story", to enable them to be more approachable and authentic to customers. Brand storytelling isn't a new concept, but with the explosive growth of social media and content marketing, the opportunities to tell stories as part of direct or indirect marketing plan, has become a strategic priority.

We, as marketers, talk a lot about connecting emotionally with the audience, but the challenge with brand storytelling or emotional marketing today is that it treads on a very fine line between being authentic and emotionally moving, or being a slickly produced video for a product or service. Get this part wrong and the connection you're looking for is lost.

A human story doesn't suffer from this because we know it's real. That's where the power comes from.

What is Brand Storytelling?

Yes, brand storytelling is about brands telling stories, but instead of telling stories about themselves (the traditional approach to marketing), brand storytelling turns the spotlight away from the business and onto the customer. Often, brand storytelling features customers or everyday people who could be potential customers. Sometimes, it focuses on iconic or influential people their audience cares about. 

Why is this approach so effective?

There are three key reasons:

  1. Show, don't tell. Customers today aren't going to take your company's word for it. Studies show that North Americans say that when they are aware of advertising, they don't trust what they see, read, or hear. People don't like being told what to do or think. Rather than telling someone why your product or service is right for them, show them with a powerful story.
  2. Storytelling is hardwired into humanity. Stories are how we learn, how we remember and how we connect with one another. Tapping into this basic human impulse makes for much more powerful content.
  3. Brand storytelling that puts its audience first is more relatable and genuine than a corporate mascot or generic celebrity endorser. It also shows that a business understands the people they’re talking to and knows what motivates them.

Who’s Winning with Brand Storytelling?

Some of the most successful campaigns from the past couple of years have utilized storytelling to great effect. Here are a few examples of brands that are putting human-centered stories front and center in their marketing.

Brand: Always 
Campaign: #LikeAGirl

The creative campaign by Always feminine hygiene products won awards for its critical look at the age-old taunts of running, throwing or fighting 'like a girl'. Through deep consumer insight, Always delivers a strong, powerful message that resonates with its target audience and challenges negative stereotypes. Its empowering message blends with realistic portrayals of its target audience; addressing an important, real issue that's consistent with its brand.

Brand: Johnnie Walker
Campaign: Dear Brother

This haunting spec ad produced by students for Scotch whisky makers Johnnie Walker masterfully brings viewers on a poignant cinematic and emotional journey. The story of two brothers exploring the important places of their youth cleverly integrates the brand and the result is a memorable package that really pulls on your heartstrings.

Brand: Dove
Campaign: Real Beauty Sketches

Dove's short film quickly went viral around the globe when it was released back in 2013. The ad compares the sketches of an FBI-trained sketch artist to compare women's self-perceptions and how strangers view them. Dove's message of beauty elicits a strong emotional response from its target audience who can easily relate to the universal struggle with self-criticism.
These brands excel at capturing stories that tap into an authentic human quality. Brand marketing doesn't need to tell customers what to do -- they already know. Instead, it shows what you stand for, and that's a story worth telling. 

At clearmotive, we work with clients to delve into understanding your customers and their needs to reach them on a human level and deliver powerful messages they won't soon forget. Learn more about storytelling across marketing channels by contacting us or signing up for our newsletter