From Story to Success: Exploring the Significance of Brand Storytelling
Pratiksha Rastogi

From Story to Success: Exploring the Significance of Brand Storytelling

Brand storytelling captures attention, builds emotional connections, and differentiates from competitors. By conveying values and purpose, it increases brand recall and recognition. Moreover, engaging customers in a participatory way through storytelling fosters loyalty and creates a lasting impact in the minds of consumers, ultimately driving business success.

While watching television, how many of you are to irked by those commercials that hardly ever captivate your attention?

There are a handful of brands that successfully create a connection with their consumers through the medium of stories; and the ones that are able to sell their products without actually directly doing that. 

Interestingly, 64% of women and 68% of men have felt an emotional connection with a brand according to a survey conducted by Consumer Thermometer, making it essential for brands to formulate content strategies that build an emotional connection with the consumers. 

If you don’t believe us, here’s what an expert had to say about the importance of brand storytelling. 

"Brands that don't focus on storytelling are missing the opportunity to connect with their customer on an emotional level. Today's customers want to believe in the brands they choose to use and endorse, and one of the best ways to turn a regular customer into a loyal one is to give them something to relate to on an emotional level."
Jordan P. Kelley - Content Director at Brand Storytelling

While stories have been integral since the beginning of time but there’s a brand that completely altered the trajectory of brand storytelling with its 2020 marketing strategy, and that brand was Coca-cola. 

According to LinkedIn stats, in 2011 hardly any marketer mentioned storytelling as a skill on their professional profile which jumped straight to 25000 brand storytellers by Aug 2012.  

From Story to Success: Exploring the Significance of Brand Storytelling

Back in April 2011, the concept of brand storytelling was often subject to ridicule, and Tom Fishburne seized this opportunity when he launched his now-popular Marketoonist cartoon series. While Fishburne recognized the potential for brands and marketers to be storytellers, he believed that most brands were falling short in their storytelling efforts.

Coca-Cola's introduction of the Content 2020 strategy marked a significant moment for the brand as it aimed to establish the concept of brand storytelling and its integral role within a comprehensive marketing strategy. This strategic move captured the attention of the marketing industry, leading to an observable trend of marketers highlighting storytelling as a distinct skill on their professional profiles.

Around the same time, Seth Godin, the marketing Guru, re-issued ‘All Marketers Tell Stories’. By placing storytelling in the spotlight, it became evident that it had transcended being merely a content marketing tactic. Instead, storytelling had earned its place as a crucial component of strategic marketing discussions.

Now that you know why brand storytelling is integral for your brand, let’s dive into how you can do it. 

  1. Be authentic

Authenticity is key to effective brand storytelling. It involves being true to your brand's values, mission, and personality. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing company, is a great example of authenticity in storytelling. Their commitment to environmental sustainability is ingrained in their brand identity, and they consistently share stories that highlight their environmental initiatives and inspire others to take action.

Their ‘Buy Less, Demand More’ campaign won the hearts of their consumers and they bluntly pointed out that we are running out of resources and must buy clothes that last us longer. This is also a great example of purposeful storytelling, where they touched upon a vital crisis that we all are dealing with on an everyday basis. 

Takeaway: By transparently sharing your initiatives and engaging in sustainable practices, you can build trust and loyalty among consumers who value authenticity.

  1. Grab the attention of your audience

In a world filled with content, it's crucial to grab your audience's attention from the start. Dollar Shave Club, a subscription-based grooming products company, did this exceptionally well with its viral video campaign. Their witty and attention-grabbing video not only introduced their brand but also conveyed their unique selling proposition, disrupting the traditional razor market.

Takeaway: By thinking outside the box, using humor, or creating visually striking content is the key to standing out in a crowded marketplace and making a memorable impact on your target audience.

  1. Know that your story is not for everybody

Effective brand storytelling doesn't need to appeal to everyone. It's important to identify and target your specific audience. Nike's "Just Do It" campaign is a prime example. Their stories focus on individuals who strive for greatness and push their limits, resonating with athletes and inspiring them to achieve their goals.

Takeaway: By understanding your customers' aspirations, values, and interests, brands can craft compelling narratives that connect on an emotional level and foster a sense of belonging. And, always remember that not everybody will relate to the stories you create to represent your brand but that’s okay because even your consumer is not everybody. 

  1. Keep the story consistent on all platforms

Consistency is vital in brand storytelling across different platforms to ensure a cohesive brand image. Coca-Cola consistently delivers a message of happiness and togetherness through its storytelling. Whether it's their TV commercials, social media posts, or website content, the consistent theme of spreading joy is evident.

Coca-Cola is one of the most consistent brands in history — its logo and bottle have barely changed in 100+ years.

From Story to Success: Exploring the Significance of Brand Storytelling

That’s why it’s been the world’s best-known brand for nearly as long. According to an internal study done in the 1980s, “Coke” is the second most understood word in the world after “okay.”

And that is the power of staying consistent; it makes you unforgettable! 

Takeaway: Brands should ensure that their storytelling is consistent in tone, messaging, and visual identity across social media, websites, advertisements, and other touch points to reinforce their brand identity and build recognition.

5. Keep the consumers at the center of your stories

Effective brand storytelling revolves around the consumers and their experiences. Airbnb does this exceptionally well by featuring user-generated stories and experiences on its platform. By showcasing real travelers' stories and highlighting the unique accommodations they offer, Airbnb puts its customers at the forefront and builds trust with its audience.

In their series “Host Stories“, they showcase great stories where Airbnb made a difference in a host’s life. Even, James McClure, GM of Northern Europe believes that, “Your community, your customers, are the best marketing asset you have”

Takeaway: Brands can learn to create platforms or campaigns that allow consumers to share their stories and engage with the brand. By amplifying the voices and experiences of their customers, brands can create a sense of community and authenticity.

6. Tap into their emotions and functionality needs

Great brand storytelling goes beyond functional benefits and taps into consumers' emotions. Apple is a master of this approach. Their storytelling often focuses on the emotions and aspirations of their customers, highlighting how their products enable creativity, innovation, and personal growth. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Apple always starts by tapping into the customer’s emotions and then works backward. 

For instance, when the company wasn’t experiencing the best time in terms of revenue, Apple's co-founder Steve Jobs believed that the company needed to change its image by emphasizing its unique approach to technology and design. And that’s when the ‘Think Different’ campaign came into the picture. 

The "Think Different" campaign achieved remarkable success, earning numerous accolades and playing a pivotal role in rejuvenating Apple's brand and driving sales growth.

A key strength of the campaign lay in its remarkable capacity to forge deep emotional connections with consumers. By showcasing iconic visionaries and thought leaders, the campaign struck a chord with individuals' aspirations and core beliefs. It positioned Apple as a brand that shared its yearning for making a positive impact and transforming the world.

Takeaway: Brands can learn to go beyond showcasing product features and benefits and instead focus on the emotional impact their products or services have on customers' lives, inspiring them to connect with the brand on a deeper level.

8. Create stories that serve a purpose

Purpose-driven storytelling connects with audiences on a deeper level. TOMS, the footwear company, built its brand on the concept of "One for One." For every pair of shoes purchased, they donate a pair to a child in need. By telling stories about the impact of their donations and the lives they've touched, TOMS creates a sense of purpose and inspires consumers to be part of their mission.

Takeaway: Brands can learn to integrate social or environmental causes into their narratives, aligning their brand with a larger purpose and motivating consumers to participate in their mission by making a positive impact.

9. Stories that move your consumers to take action

Compelling brand storytelling should inspire consumers to take action. The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is a powerful example. Through their stories and advertisements, Dove challenges traditional beauty standards and encourages self-acceptance. By empowering their audience to embrace their natural beauty, Dove motivates individuals to participate in their movement and make a positive change in society.

Takeaway: By promoting inclusivity, challenging societal norms, and empowering individuals, brands can motivate consumers to not only support the brand but also make a difference in the world around them.

In conclusion, as Seth Godin said in his blog, keep in mind that ‘the best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feel smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place.’ So, if we were you, we would definitely listen to him!