There is a famous proverb, “Facts tell. Stories sell”. Storytelling is one of the tools of branding and marketing. Is it a more powerful tool or is it the most powerful tool? Let us take a look.
How Do Stories Work?
Stories inspire action and also connect emotionally & build reputation. Marketing is all about building relationships and by staying back in the memory (or sub-conscious mind), stories help in connecting people & strengthening relationships.
Our hearts connect to stories, our brains are wired for stories and our ears want to listen to stories. We want our stories to be heard because our experiences are stories, our complaints are stories and the biggest burden on our mind and heart are our untold stories.
How do Stories Integrate?
Storytelling is a powerful integrator of logic with emotions and education with entertainment. To understand the holistic power of storytelling, let us see the different components it integrates:-
-On-line and offline brand
-Social media and mass media
-Self interest with others’ interest
-Edutainment or education with entertainment
-Emotions with logic
-People with business brand
Why Stories for Organisation Branding?
The paradox is that usually organisations are interested in organisation and product branding, while people are usually keener on reading about people. Storytelling helps in resolving this paradox, as the story of entrepreneur /team can be integrated with story of organisation (and the story of product and innovator can be integrated too).
Stories stay in our mind or memory and also help us attract more customers. Anecdotes (or short true stories) are a powerful tool for sharing your successes and provide meaningful content to the audience at the same time. They help in forming connect, building relationships and trust which may lead to collaborations or leads for business.
Why Stories for People Branding?
Brands are built by consistent communication of the attributes in an interesting way and storytelling meets all these conditions. Branding is also about staying on top of the mind and becoming memorable for the right qualities.
Is Storytelling Equally Powerful for B2B?
Very often participants in my workshops have asked me, “Is storytelling equally powerful for B2B?” One of my favourite examples is the global rebranding of Philips. When Philips wanted to rebrand itself from B2C to B2B company, it realised that digital storytelling will be the best tool. The company realised that 30 seconds on TV would not be sufficient to convey the message and came up with a series of digital documentaries to tell an authentic story about the impact its innovations are having on people’s lives. Combining the rational with the emotional became a winning formula for Philips and created the desired connect with the B2B audience. Since the stories were in the customers’ own words, they became all the more compelling.
Emotions and Empathy are Powerful Connectors
Google created a powerful story for its Google Search feature recently. Based on India Pakistan partition, the theme of the Youtube video was, “Partitions divide countries, and friendships find a way.” The background is the 1947 partition of India which had separated many friends and families overnight. The grandfather has a huge surprise on his birthday as the granddaughter decides to reunite him with his childhood friend (who is now in Pakistan) after over 6 decades of separation. Though the reunion is the pivot of the story, it is Google Search which comes in handy for reunion. The global popularity of the video can be gauged from the fact that it has crossed 1.2 crore plus views.
Impact + interactivity = Unbeatable Combo
Digital storytelling is becoming all the more powerful as new technologies such as facial recognition, augmented reality, geo-location, motion sensors, data visualization are added every day.
Intersection of films, games and the Internet can also add to the impact of the story. When the photographs, sound, video clips, interviews, music and narration come together, they truly immerse the viewer in a multimedia world.
Engaging at a Deeper Level
Being very expensive mass media can often pose a challenge in deeper engagement with the viewer. Digital storytelling can come to the rescue of the marketer here. Mark Stephenson, head of brand, communications and digital for Philips North America says, “We looked at what we are doing as a company and what we’re offering in terms of our solutions, and it’s a complex story. We looked at the advances in the digital space and said, ‘Hey, this is really an opportunity to engage this audience at a deeper level.’”
Great storytelling is like sculpting. To create great statues you have to cut the flab, sharpen the crucial points and keep refining the nuances.
To create meaningful stories, marketers first need to introspect and research upon, “What is it that our company or organization brings to its audience?” And based on the findings coupled with intuition, they can tell the story in an authentic way and bond forever with the customers and prospects.