A big part of a good marketing strategy is finding a way to form an emotional connection between a brand and their audience. When consumers feel an emotional attachment to a brand drives brand loyalty and pushes people to buy.
A powerful way to form an emotional connection with your customers is by framing your brand as a character at the center of a brand story. The key to human connection is chemical in our brains called oxytocin, which is released when we are told stories. Forming this connection is critical if you want to differentiate yourself as a company and be memorable in the eyes of consumers.
Brand storytelling has been a buzzword in the marketing community recently, and for good reason. The possibilities of storytelling are huge. Humans are hardwired for stories. We feel connected to stories and experience them neurologically and chemically in a way that even the most critical facts can’t do for us. When you pair a smart idea with accurate facts and tell it to an audience in a narrative form you get a compelling story.
Telling people about your brand through stories can help form a bond between your brand character and intended audience. Depending on the stage of the marketing funnel your audience is in, a brand story can help you get noticed, be remembered, or close a sale.
There are many kinds of stories that can be told that make up your overall brand story. Whether you choose to tell a story that frames the problem your brand is tackling, cause an emotional response or capture your audience’s attention long enough to make a sale, it all depends on the goal of the story. Regardless of the type of story, they should all be framed by your brand narrative so that collectively they tell your intended brand story.
Your overarching brand narrative plays a large role in developing your brand story. A brand narrative acts as a marketing frame. It’s similar to a brand promise as it’s a statement that tells the shared purpose between the audience and the brand.
For example, IBM’s brand narrative is “building a smarter planet” and Starbucks’ is “serving people, not coffee”.
Brand narratives are short but powerful. By using it as a frame for your differing stories you develop a consistent message. A compelling brand narrative is significant because of the fact that it is the shared purpose. If people can get behind your brand narrative, then you already have that connection in place.
There is one story that should always be included as part of your brand story and that is a brand backstory. People want to know how something came to be, and your brand is no exception. Discovering how something gets from point A to point B is one of the core purposes of storytelling in our society.
Sharing the history of a brand in a narrative way can help form an immediate connection between a brand and a consumer. When we hear a story, especially one in a traditional story arc, our brain releases a series of chemicals that heighten our attention and keep us focused, making a brand more memorable. Consider turning your “about” page on your website into a compelling narrative for this reason.
When people read stories, particularly one with a relatable main character, the levels of oxytocin in their brain increases. This increases their ability to empathize and trust the character. By framing a brand personality within the context of a story it allows the audience to connect with your brand as it would a compelling protagonist in a story.
Humanizing your brand is important when you are trying to connect with an audience. In addition to personifying your brand into a human-like character there are also steps you can take in making your character feel more real like by talking about outside interests or showing the behind the scenes behind the character.
The hero’s journey is a well-known plot line that develops the main character in an empathetic way. A character archetype is a character type that appears in society a lot, such as “the hero” or “the everyman”. The familiarity of the characters that come out of these techniques offer a good starting point that frame your brand character in a graspable and relatable way.
Social media has become the ideal place to connect with your target audience. Not only can you share powerful stories on multiple platforms, but you can interact with your audience directly, enforcing your brand character.
When you share content to social media it should be framed around your larger brand narrative. When you share strategic stories and visual content that intentionally supports your brand narrative you can tell a story in a quick and effective way. Social media is highly visual based, so it’s vital that you choose the best visual content to quickly form a connection with your audience.
Connecting with your audience on social media is made more difficult in part by the sheer volume of content on social media platforms. The typical way that people interact with social media is scrolling through their newsfeed or explore section until something catches their eye enough for them to spend some more time with it.
Since most social media platforms, especially Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest are highly visual based the first step in connecting with your audience is captivating their interest with your visual content.
Social media also houses an authentic brand story that is told by your audience. Unlike other marketing platforms, social media allows for a two-way storytelling process. This means that while you are sharing a story about your brand to your audience, they could also be sharing a story about your brand to their audience.
The story that is told through user-generated content is important to pay attention to. The way social media platforms are set up create a web of brand awareness. In order for your message to be consistent across your multiple platforms you need to make sure that not only all of your messages are consistent with each other, but also that they are consistent with the authentic story being told by your audience.
Finally, social media is also an ideal location to show off your brand personality. Your brand voice and message architecture that is demonstrated though your written and visual content should provide a good baseline for your brand character. The ability to interact with your customers directly adds another human element and is a place where brand personality can really shine through.