Brand Storytelling is the Future of Marketing

Shannon Peel

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The Internet is a dark abyss of content consumption, fake news, and attention seeking click bait, which is why authentic brand storytelling is the future of marketing.

Today, as content creators dump as much as they can to get noticed by the marketplace the good stuff is buried deep beneath super hoarder levels of stuff. Customers are getting confused, lost, and dropped.

Marketing has to change by giving people personal reasons to choose the brand to solve their problem. A skilled brand storyteller understands how to craft a brand story to guide audiences from awareness to advocacy.

Brand Storytelling is Nothing New

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time. We are wired for stories because they help us understand the world around us and the one within us.

Brand Storytelling is not new. It has been around as long as commerce, the better the story the more snake oil someone could sell. From the early 1890s - 1923, Claude Hopkins was the star of the advertising world and he did it by telling stories, measuring results, and giving people an experience. His method of advertising was powerful enough to launch brand's into household names, like Quaker Oats, Firestone, Bissell, and SunKist to name a few.

His approach was called the "reason-why." The copy told consumers a story about why they needed to buy that product and he gave them coupons and samples of the products so they could experience the brand and make it part of their personal brand stories. People who liked the products would tell others and before they knew it, those brands were household names.

His methods inspired Ogilvie and many other advertisers since. His book the Science of Advertising is a must read for. any copywriter, just remember it was written before 1920 when men ruled the boardrooms and women were placed in support roles or got married and stayed home. If you can get past the social conventions of the time, you will learn the core of good marketing, advertising, and copywriting.

Personal Brand Storytelling is Different from Brand Storytelling

The skilled brand storyteller understands the difference between personal brand storytelling and telling a brand's story. Those who grab onto the buzz word and sell you on the idea but don't understand the difference will have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere. The story's structure is determined by who the hero of the story is, the role of the story teller, and who is the audience.

When one tells a personal brand story they are telling their own story. They are the hero of that story. The audience stays in their seats, watching the action but not experiencing it for themselves. Personal brand storytelling takes skill to know how to entertain and keep people coming back for more. To succeed the storyteller needs persistence and a determination to build a following.

A skilled brand storyteller knows they are not the hero of the story. The brand is the storyteller, the narrator, guide, or light bringer and the people sitting in the audience are the heroes. This is where the storyteller's skill is tested. It takes a master of their craft to tell the audience their stories while having them experience an individual event from the past, present, or future. The trick is to tell enough of the story so each audience member brings their own unique experience to your narrative, which they use to interpret the story being told to them about them. Sound confusing?

Let me explain using an example of my own writing experience.

When I was writing my first novel, I was trying to tell a story set in Africa which North American teens would identify with. As you can guess, it failed. I started out strong enabling the reader to experience the feelings of the character deep in thought, but the minute I switched the character's consciousness to interact with the world outside of himself, the reader's connection was cut. The character became other and his plight easily dismissed as "That happens over there and has nothing to do with me."

When I changed the location and wrote the story in a North American city, I was able to allow the reader to bring their experiences with schools, roads, cars, and libraries to the story and connect their experience with the fictional story of an army attacking, shutting down communication, and transportation.

Skilled storytellers know how to show a story and craft it so each reader or viewer has their own experience with the plot. Brands need to use the show method of storytelling to allow the audience to bring their lives into the story.

The Rise of Digital Storytelling

Social media used to be the one with the biggest following wins, so lazy people cut corners, bought followers, created bots, and over scheduled posts. To process all that content dumping, social media platforms changed the algorithms, demanded payment for eyeballs, and soon, a bigger following did not mean better. Content got dumber to connect with the zombie scroll brain for the easy 'like' and to get more impressions.

Fake gurus sprung up making a name for themselves by grinding out more and more low quality content. The more content, the more their name was seen, the more people thought they must be important. The grind and hustle crowd was born with promises of riches and fame.

Likes = Impressions = Brand Awareness = Perception of Importance

Beware of Story Fracture

Social media platforms may be a good storytelling tool, but it ultimately leads to story fracture. It is easy for all those sound bite pieces to end up disconnected, fracturing the brand story and leaving audience members confused about what you do and how you can help them. This is why you need a larger strategy that brings in different marketing theory, processes, and platforms.

Brands need to start their story with the customer's buying journey in mind and then map out the digital footprint for their digital marketing funnel. Social media is no longer an effective place to tell stories because audiences are in zombie scroll brain and algorithms only show them a fraction of what you post. They are buried in content and easily distracted by the sensational shiny headlines.

Smart brands are telling stories across multiple platforms to guide audiences through their digital marketing funnel from awareness to advocacy. They are creating their own communities and filling out the holes of their narratives.

Marketing experts who understand audiences, the technology, and consumer decision making understand that they need to bring in content marketing, social media marketing, digital marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, advertising, publicity, SEO, and different platforms to guide audiences through a deeper funnel.

The brand who hangs out on their audience's favourite social media platforms will continue to build brand awareness. The ones who guide audiences off of social platforms and deeper into their stories by establishing authority and credibility will be better positioned for when the customer is ready to make a decision.

Too many brands don't understand their customer's journey and are not present during the decision making phase because the digital footprint had a gap the size of the grand canyon leaving the customer on one side looking over at what they wanted with no way to get there.

A skilled brand storyteller understands that a brand story's ending is different than the ending of their favourite movie. A movie will tie up all the loose ends and leave the audience satisfied with a conclusion. Brand stories are spread out over the digital footprint and the customer drives as fast or as slow through the story as they want. At the end, the audience is asked to take action, to make a decision, to be the hero and either proceed, go back, or take a left turn at Albuquerque. The storyteller does not control the brand story, the audience does.

Brand Storytelling is a buzz word being batted around right now and too many marketers are using the wrong structure because they believe the hero is the brand. Most marketers and some content creators are not storytellers.

If you are asking someone to tell your brand story, ask them to explain the structure of a brand story. The hero is the customer. The audience determines the details by their own experiences, The pace is decided by the customer who is the one on a journey. The storyteller needs to strategically craft the larger story across the digital world to meet the customer where they are on their journey. The digital footprint must be mapped out to ensure there are no gaps in the story and the customer can find their way easily to the next chapter with links and calls to action.

A brand story does not end, it asks the audience to decide, take action, and move forward. With the right brand storyteller your brand will attract the right audience and customers for your business.

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Brand Storyteller helping professionals and businesses define their brand stories and tell gthem to the marketplace by creating a digital footprint and digital marketing funnel

Vancouver, WA
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