The Age of Brand Storytelling
Just like everything else, marketing evolves. Evolution plays a pivotal role in the inevitable growth and progression that make up the very backbone of this age old art form.
Marketing has had to adapt to new the technologies of our time, and the more it changes, the more it seems to appeal to our basic instincts. Marketers have had to change tack over the years as favoured methods of the past have lost the panache they once had. A new method has been adopted; one that makes the brand shine through the cracks and talks to consumers on a personal and emotional level. Marketers are doing this for brands by crafting stories around brands in a ‘Documentary’ style.
The crux of the idea is to directly communicate with your consumers on a human, interpersonal level. By telling a story, the whole concept behind the campaign itself feels far less contrived and therefore far more genuine to consumers. If it succeeds in being believable, it can cause consumers to see the brand in a completely new light. There are many different ways marketers can tell their story which will be covered below.
A story can be crafted to suit any set of circumstances, like to fix the brands image after it has been put under threat. This was the case for Domino’s pizza. When realising how consumers truly felt about their product, Domino’s decided to show their customers that they really do care and were willing to make any changes necessary to improve their product.
With the fast spreading craze known as ‘Neknomination’ taking the world by storm, it was only a matter of time before a company decided to turn this irresponsible accident waiting to happen into a tactically orchestrated crowd pleaser. The famously cheeky Nando’s chain decided to change their pace a bit and show consumers their altruistic side, by accepting a ‘Neknomination’ of their own. Instead of partaking in the customary ‘downing’ of drinks, they did something different; they decided to help a day care for the mentally and physically disabled people of the Alexandra Township. After seeing this, other ‘Neknominated’ companies such as Pic n Pay, Checkers and Sunlight followed suit; letting the previously booze-laden, testosterone-testing game snowball into an amazing, charitable tradition that will hopefully never die out.
Another well practiced method of this brand story-weaving is to mould your campaign around the consumers’ emotive responses, by finding or creating a story that will sufficiently tug at their heart-strings. This can be done by either evoking a strong emotive response or alternatively an upbeat and cheerful one. In the end it all comes down to your product, and the association you want customers to have with it. Skype for instance is in the business of human interaction, which is a very personal, emotionally reliant business to be in. In their latest ‘Born Friends’ campaign they decided to utilize a very emotionally stirring story. Intel did the same with their ‘Look inside’ campaign. Chipotle created an animated ‘short story’ in order to get their emotive message across. The beautifully crafted animatic tells the ‘story’ of the brand in a truly gorgeous way, showing the consumer how they became the brand they are and why they care about food production and the treatment of what you eat.
The upbeat and cheerful method is an amazing way to make your consumers remember your brand; as long as it fits your brand image. During last year’s Super Bowl, Bud light decided to adopt this method in order to advertise their brand to the massive amount of American Football fans that watch the event every year. The ad’s purpose is to make the consumer smile and regard Bud Light as a fun, exceptional beer that goes the extra mile.
Advertising at its best puts the consumer in a decision-making role or one that truly makes them think. This style was put perfectly into effect when Tipp-Ex decided to utilise You Tube to roll out their latest campaign: A hunter shoots a bear. The campaign throws the viewer directly into the director’s chair, and allows them to decide how the story at hand plays out. The ad shows the use of the product in a fun, innovative and memorable way that will stick in the minds of consumers for a long time. Another campaign, told slightly differently to the Tipp-Ex ad; though still as smart and thought-provoking was The Guardian’s ‘3 Little Pigs’ advert. Though you don’t exactly write the story yourself, you still get to make your own mind on the ‘issue’ at hand. It utilizes one of the world’s most popular and famous children’s story’s, flips it on its ear and spins it into a though-provoking, time appropriate ad that speaks to the world as a whole. More importantly; it expresses the brand promises in a way that consumers appreciate and understand.
The final, and possibly most innovative style of brand storytelling is the pseudo-documentary style. It has seen a growth in popularity especially in the digital realm of marketing with wildly successful examples such as the Guinness Sapeurs short documentary advert. The advert tells the story of policemen, street vendors and miners — part of the working poor in the Republic of Congo who form part of a ‘Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo’. This project takes a real subculture in the Congo and uses their story to highlight the characteristics of their brand which they personify. While the advert is staged and therefore not strictly speaking a documentary in its purest form, it does tell a true story in a similar way, but for Guinness’ own marketing motives.
In an age where consumers have more control over the marketing they engage with, it is important that it hooks consumers in, and speaks to them on a personal level. Storytelling sets itself apart from other styles of advertising; and is a fresh, unique and stylish way of telling the public why they should take notice of your brand.