Does your brand have a story to tell?
What’s your story? Storytelling, or simply delivering consistent and compelling content that will build a picture of your company is becoming an increasingly important differentiator for brands.
Many companies use a fairly simple approach to marketing – make sure as many people as possible know about your products and services. But with the emergence of new digital platforms and data gathering tools, the emphasis has shifted from promoting to the masses to engaging with a relevant and well-targeted audience. Brand storytelling has become a key part of this, as it gives companies the chance to set out their stall to their target audience.
Who are the best storytellers?
Storytelling is a very broad concept and means different things to different marketers, however a recent Aesop/OnePoll survey looked into brand storytelling to find out who is doing it well. Tech giant Apple came out on top, while Cadbury and McDonald’s secured second and third positions respectively. IKEA was ranked in fourth, while Walkers and Coca-Cola followed close behind. Virgin Media, YouTube, Macmillan Cancer Support and the Red Cross were all in the Top 10. Perhaps the most obvious conclusion to draw from the list is that no one sector is dominating outright. Indeed, it is an indication that organisations of all types and sizes now regard brand storytelling as a critically important part of how they portray themselves to their target market.
What makes a likeable brand?
Advertising agency Leo Burnett compiled a list of the top attributes brands must display if they are to be liked by their audience. Whilst it’d be simple to believe brand popularity relates to how many products are sold the study found there is far more to it than sales figures alone! The five key drivers were identified as:
- Affinity: trust, having an emotional connection, brand empathy and appreciation of quality
- Visibility: is the brand everywhere, both physically and in the mind of customers
- Differentiation: brand personality, is the brand fun, quirky, up to date, innovative
- Integrity: are honesty and transparency associated with the brand
- Longevity: long-established, can adults recall from childhood
The criteria that determine brand likeability are factors that influence the success of organisations’ storytelling efforts. For instance, Head of Narrative at Aesop Ed Woodcock noted that some brands rank highly because of their “legacy imprints” while the sheer ubiquity of some has led to others doing very well. He also pointed out brands can’t be complacent and would slip down the rankings if they stop communicating. Apple was hailed for doing a good job of staying “on narrative” with its communications reinforcing its image as a highly innovative brand while Cadbury was commended for actively trying to communicate in new ways. “Having a narrative approach helps to coordinate and be coherent across different platforms,” Mr Woodcock stated.
Social media makes storytelling even more important
The emergence of social media as a prominent marketing platform has fundamentally altered how organisations engage with their audience. According to Mr Woodcock the “oral effect” of sites like Facebook and Twitter has only added to the importance of brand storytelling. “If you think back to before we had broadcast technology and we told stories at the pub or around the campfire, the campfire is much bigger and now millions of people sit around it.” Mr Woodcock concluded that this function of social media and the fact it is such a big part of people’s lives means brand storytelling is now “more relevant than it was in the broadcast era.”
Sources / References
The top storytelling brands. Marketing Week.
Brand storytelling: Narrative theory. Marketing Week.
Brand Storytelling. Branding Strategy Insider.
Brand storytelling: campaigns with real life stories. The Marketer.