5 Steps Towards Effective Storytelling

Effective storytelling can build or completely change your brand image. However, like most things that mean something, it is not easy. It takes consistent work and specialized skills to develop the story in the manner that evokes the emotions that you want your audience to feel. It is even more true for brand stories and marketing campaigns. Today, we will share steps towards effective storytelling that sets your small business or a Startup brand apart! Like Andrew Stanton says in this TED video

“Don’t give them 4. Give them 2+2”

Paint a picture figuratively as and literally

Press releases with multimedia are likely to get 77 per cent more responses.  (Tweet this stat!)

Facebook posts with visuals like videos and photos create up to 180 per cent stronger engagement. (Tweet this stat!)

Any good story creates a universe of its own and sucks people in. You need to be able to make people see what you are seeing. Your prose must be vivid and evocative rather than expository and descriptive. Transport people to your world and let them experience it your way. It may be about a small garage where two founders planning to change the world (Hewlett Packard) or a Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant from Germany who opens a dry goods wholesale store, only to team up with one of his customers and patent something that will change the world sartorially (Levi Strauss). Also, use photographs, diagrams and graphics to drive home your point especially nowadays as consumers have minimal patience to read long posts.

Give them a hero

Your protagonist should be a figure of inspiration. He or She might be someone struggling against all odds, someone people can take inspiration from. If you look at various big brands, you can easily locate such stories of ambitious but not so well off dreamers who struggled and made it big. The likes of Bill Gates and Zuckerberg dropped out of college as they already had good business ideas. But their brand storytellers present them as breakers of convention, who went against usual norms and yet succeeded.

Make them guess

Consumer see over 5000 marketing messages each day (Tweet this stat!)

You need to keep people hooked. Even in the smallest story, you need to introduce some element of uncertainty so that people keep guessing and read till the end to find out what happens. For example what about the story of two brothers who successfully build a company but fallout due to sibling rivalry, split and still build two global corporations (Adidas and Puma)? People suffer from information overload nowadays. So, you need to give them something that intrigues right from the first line. Otherwise competition is too high and the attention span is too low on part of the consumers.

Deliver a message

People appreciate it when the story has a message. For instance, non-profit organizations such as WWF or Greenpeace have environmental themes in their brand communications. Even an alleged profit oriented firm like British Petroleum had a slogan called “Beyond Petroleum” for a while in an effort to promote renewable energy. Through such slogans one can build the image of a responsible and socially aware organization. Such stories make people feel better about their association with the brand and they also share related content easily.

5 Steps Towards Effective Storytelling

Promote subtly

While your eventual aim is to promote the product, you can do it very subtly through effective storytelling. For instance, all Apple stories present its founder Steve Jobs as a genius and an inspirational figure. What they are effectively saying is that the products created by a genius like him are definitely better than others and so they deserve to charge a premium (and they really do!). Take another example of SMARTcars which were promoted as #WhatareyouFOR last year, really putting the customer at the center stage and having them find a sense of association with the values before the product itself.

What storytelling techniques have you found helpful and effective for your audience? Do feel free to share it with us!

Enakshi Sharma

Digital Storyteller at Brandanew
Enakshi is a storyteller, curator (India Art Fair, 2015), anchor (May Queen, 2015), research associate (Centre for Civil Society, India), a travel writer and a blogger. She's a Digital Storyteller for Brandanew.