‘Once upon a time…’ – Is Storytelling the Future of Brand Strategy?

Storytelling is a major part of everyday life in both the personal and working worlds. Whether it be telling a funny story over a glass of wine or a goodnight book to your children, a good narrative is key to building strong relationships. A recent report from Headstream has highlighted the need for storytelling when branding your company.

Steve Sponder, MD of Headstream stated that “Storytelling has become one of the key phrases behind any modern marketing strategy and it’s clear that people want to hear and see more engaging narratives.” The study found that 80 percent of people who polled felt that telling a story was a good idea for a brand.  However, most of those in that 80% could not think of an example of a good brand story.

That brings about the question, what actually is a good brand story? In my opinion a good story is something that I can relate to and I can really engage with. Of those who polled, 66% found that they were most interested in hearing stories about everyday ‘regular people.’ Hearing such stories will let the everyday consumer be able, like me, to relate to the person in the story bringing themselves closer to the brand.

The study showed that there were found to be 38 percent who were interested about the brand’s customers, 19 percent wanted to hear about celebrities or the brand’s employees and only a mere 10% wanted to be exposed to stories about the CEO of a brand. To me those figures again prove the need for more general brand stories that doesn’t focus on specific individuals within a company as that alienates a lot of potential viewers.

Brands however have obviously responded in a positive way to this feedback. It was found that 64% of people polled felt that brands were in fact good at telling stories. The results also showed that the least interesting stories were ones that were deemed surprising. Across all age groups, the most relatable and interesting stories made the watchers laugh. Other stories that drew attention were inspirational, dramatic and informative. Like in advertising, stories that provide a feel good factor or a memorable happening seem to have the most success.

Digital story distribution is found most commonly found on websites, blogs and company email lists which are referred to as ‘owned media’. The second most popular channel was website advertising, followed by social media advertising and social media content. Nevertheless, whichever channel is deemed worthy for the story, sharing them has a big impact on conversions. It was found that 55% of people are more likely to purchase your product in the future if they loved your brand story with a full 15 percent likely to buy your product straightaway. On the social media side, a good brand story could mean that 45 percent are likely to go on and ‘like’ your Facebook page or share the story personally.

This study shows that a good brand story should be at the forefront of a branding strategy. Brand stories can form memories and create a relationship to a brand that ultimately provides loyalty to a business. Creating customer advocacy through memorable brand storytelling is a key part of the future of content marketing.

About the Author: Harry Kempe, a marketing intern at IIR USA, who works on various aspects of the industry including social media, marketing analysis and media. He is a recent graduate of Newcastle University who previously worked for EMAP Ltd. and WGSN as a marketing assistant on events such as the World Architecture Festival, World Retail Congress and Global Fashion Awards. He can be reached at hkempe@IIRUSA.com

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