With today’s advancements in technology, the world is moving at a very fast pace. People are constantly on the lookout for the fastest way to get things done in order to minimize time and maximize productivity. As a result, people have become impatient and developed short attention span. When companies provide too many facts in their branding, for example, by emphasizing too much on the functions of their product, consumers tend to lose focus and might completely disregard the message being communicated to them.
Today, branding is no longer shouting about the functions or characteristics of a product. Instead, it is telling a story. The best form of marketing nowadays is storytelling. Storytelling is highlighting the authenticity behind a product – real people, real stories. This marketing strategy gives companies the opportunity to capture and share their stories, and in return, take their potential customers on a journey that they will remember.
3 Key Elements in Storytelling
The three key elements that make up good storytelling are authenticity, creativity and inspiration. These elements are able to help form a personal connection between a company’s brand and its target audience.
Authenticity depends on how real your story is. Companies that replicate exactly the stories told by other companies lack credibility. In return, they will fail to communicate or possess their own brand identity and will be considered a “copycat” in the industry.
There is no doubt that companies need to include a dash of creativity in their storytelling. Companies need to “wow” their customers within the first three seconds of their intended message due to people’s short attention span. Companies need to ensure that their story is relevant, current and attention-grabbing so that customers would want to research further and know more about the brand. This is when companies will know that their storytelling actually worked in light of the fact that it caused people to yearn for more information.
People tend to indulge in inspirational stories because these stories affect our attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. Acting on an inspirational story also offers a sense of satisfaction by making people feel good about themselves, especially when they know that by acting on it, they could make a positive impact in the society. People find it attractive, for instance, that they can help reduce pollution by promoting recycling, provide a better life to the less fortunate by giving donations, and so on.
Successful Storytelling by Successful Companies
Over the years, many companies have practiced good storytelling in their content marketing efforts. For example, the CEO of Toms Shoes, Blake Mycoskie, was the brilliant mind who came up with “One for One”, a business model that is simple yet revolutionary in that it helps people in need with each item acquired.
“My goal with Toms is not only to sell you a classic shoe, but also to help make the idea of giving a part of your style,” quotes Blake. Since 2006, Toms Shoes has donated 60 million pairs of shoes to less fortunate children. This goes to show that a simple idea can grow into a global movement if companies adopt the right strategy in approaching their goals. The concept of selling customers the opportunity to give back to society is what contributes to the success of Toms Shoes, even today.
2. Tetra Pak
Tetra Pak is another prominent brand that has won its way to its customers through its effective storytelling. Tetra Pak’s mission is to make food safe and accessible everywhere. Since 1951, Tetra Pak has prided itself in providing the best possible processing and packaging solutions for food, even in war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Syria, where people can’t refrigerate most of their food and beverages. Tetra Pak allows that to happen, and that is how they stand out from their competitors.
3. Adidas and Nike
The 2012 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom, which was officially sponsored by Adidas, brought great exposure to Adidas. For every Gold medal won, Adidas wrote a post on Twitter with the hashtag, TakeTheStage; for example, “Congratulations to Serena Williams #TaketheStage.” This hashtag was used to support all the winners during the Olympics. However, little did Adidas know that Nike was about to steal their spotlight. Nike took a different route by using the FindYourGreatness hashtag.
The Chinese believe that one will not be commended unless he or she wins Gold. Nike decided to challenge this thinking. Every time a Chinese Olympian lost, especially when he or she was expected to win, Nike took to Twitter with the hashtag “Find Your Greatness” to reiterate the fact that even if an athlete won just a Silver or Bronze, they should be celebrated as though a Gold medal was achieved. Because of this tactic, Nike attracted more attention than Adidas did, even though they were not the official sponsor at the Olympics.
In a nutshell, companies need to tell good stories as a means to engage their customers with their brands. A good story will help customers retain a brand for the long-term. Therefore, companies should bear in mind, Branding = Storytelling.
Christine Pereira is the Audience Development Executive in Malaysia for PR Newswire.