He sets his drink down, switches a questioning eye for a concerned frown and proceeds to tell you the story of reading through your insurance contract, making it quite clear that he understands you’re meticulous, cautions, sceptical, even. You might, at this stage, notice the bartender moving around in the background, but don’t take much notice until the man asks, “What if I told you that Floyd’s uniform has changed 4 times while I’ve been talking to you?” ending with a ‘you-know-I-caught-you’ look.
That’s the power of storytelling – to create an ad that everyone speaks about for weeks, and still refers back to in their blog posts about why storytelling is crucial for business.
The Sir Sneaky Santam advert with Ben Kingsley was a hit for the simple reason that it told a story, spoke directly to the viewer and their needs, and left them feeling understood and intrigued.
In 2014, Harrison Monarth wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about storytelling. Of course, being a business publication, the article focused on how storytelling could entice customers to buy into a service or product. The title read The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool, and it was pretty slap bang on point, describing the ways people respond to stories and how this could (and should) be used in business to forge relationships with customers.
But you don’t need to create an elaborate television ad to tell your brand story or connect with your audience. Authentic, emotive, down-to-earth storytelling used across your day-to-day marketing channels is just as effective and builds trust over time. Here are a couple of ways you can refocus your branding and marketing strategies to be more people-centric.
Start with conversations
Customers want to have an authentic experience with your brand and feel that your engagements are genuine, less considered and come from the heart. Start engagements with conversations, including more takeovers or interviews in your content strategies. This will invite people into your brand realm and allow others to engage with your story, rather than you being the only ones speaking about yourself.
Be authentic and unapologetically human
We all know real people are behind brands, so show that human element in your branding and marketing. Apart from including more storytelling, client features and meet the team content into your marketing content plans, your branding can also speak to a more human element. In a trend report by 99designs about the top design trends of 2021, most trends were geared towards a human focus, such as:
- Put a face to the brand
- Stand for something and align your values with a cause greater than yourself – and one that your audience would relate to too
- Make it rough on purpose – be less of a perfectionist and have hand drawn elements that are more down to earth and approachable
- Create immersive experiences, extending your customers’ engagements with your brand beyond the screen and into more of an experience
Include behind the scenes in everyday posts
People know that the digital world is built on filters and photoshop, so show the real day to day activities with casual, raw imagery and written storytelling. How you make someone feel is more likely to be recalled. Think Sir Sneaky – you remember it made you smile because it was clever, but you don’t necessarily remember genius words left Ben Kingsley’s mouth.
Be less pedantic about what you say and focus on how you say it.
Share the story of your brand and your people at every opportunity
Craft a brand story and lean into the emotion of the back story of your business and its people. Speak about the trials, challenges, big wins and celebrations. Share these stories with your audience and make them feel as though they are catching up with a friend. They are more likely to stop on your post whilst scrolling if they know they can connect with your brand through a great story – we are wired to respond to stories after all. At Yellow Door, we’re always keen to share our workshops and fun office moments with our clients, friends, friends of friends and anyone who might like a sneak peek into life behind the yellow door.
Invite your audience in
Ask your audience how they interact with your services or use your products, and share their feedback with others. Inviting people into communities and groups where they feel they are supported by or engaging with like-minded people who share their values will keep them coming back. Your story becomes their story, and there’s nothing better than a customer who feels that your brand is aligned with their personal brand too.
People want to connect with people, and it didn’t take a pandemic to set us on this train of thought, either. This compulsion has been growing and festering for years and has finally been given a seat at the adult table of strategic discussion only after the world went spinning into disengagement and isolation (thanks Covid – it’s been a blast).
Back in 2014, Harrison wrote “Storytelling may seem like an old-fashioned tool, today — and it is. That’s exactly what makes it so powerful.” Well, it looks like this old-fashioned tool has become quite the business trend in 2021, and for good reason.
Fast forward to 2021, and human-focused branding and marketing is no longer a choice.
If you’d like help crafting your brand story, or need branded content that speaks to your audience, we’d love to connect with you! Storytelling is our game.