Since the beginning of natural language, the storytelling machine has been utilized to convince people of a perspective and persuade them into action. Unlike a cliché sales pitch, storytelling is a subtle ad that your customer familiarizes with. Once you start storytelling as a brand story technique, your storytelling machine formula will hack your content.
The Storytelling Machine Structures
Storytelling cannot be educational, universal, and memorable, if it is not organized and structured. Depending upon your audience, your medium for storytelling will be different, thus your formatting of the story will be as well. For instance, if your target audience is a younger generation, short stories through video will gain the most social media impressions. This simple beginning, middle and end story structure is a simple, yet effective narrative.
The first way to structure your story is through the three-act structure. By beginning the story, you have to set up the scene and the main character. Next is the climax or rising action where essentially the main part of your story occurs. The middle is where your brand conveys itself, and the message that’s hidden behind the storyline. If a story doesn’t have a place for tension or an issue, it is not a story. Last but not least, is the resolution which does not have to end on a positive note. Most often in story texts, the product is the resolution of the conflict. If the target audience is left with negative emotions, the resolution is a call to action that will inspire the audience to use your product.
Freytag’s Pyramid is basically an in-depth version of the three-act structure. The pyramid structure was created by Gustav Freytag, the German novelist, as an analysis tool for understanding Shakespeare, and Ancient Greek stories. The first step is exposition, where the writer exposes the setting, the scene and the characters. When building up to the climax, the rising action must come before. Rising action are events and stories that give context to the climax. The tip of the pyramid is the climax, otherwise known as the middle of a story. At this point, the story has turned in some direction. Falling action is where the climax's aftermath is portrayed. Lastly is the denouement which means the problem has been resolved, or there’s an urge for change among the audience members.
Structure is the first step in making any storyline thrive. Mutating the structures above will engage your audience, because they have prior exposure to these formats.
The Hook is Your Best Friend
Before diving in, it is important to understand what a hook is. A hook is a writing tool to hook your reader. Imagine you’re fishing and lower your hook into the water. Once a fish grabs onto your hook, you reel in the fish. In this analogy, your audience is the fish and your content is the fishing pole.
The first few seconds of your audience’s attention is where they decide whether to give your content a chance or not. A catching hook will lock your audience in.
An overall hook has three parts which are the star, the chain, then the hook. The star is the attention grabber, which tells your audience about something positive. If negative, your audience will become discouraged and disinterested in the story. Chain is when you state facts or logical reasons about how your company has formed the star. The hook, or call to action, suggests your audience should use your product. Leaving unanswered questions is how your audience will continue to read your content to look for those answers.
Your Company’s Mission
Concepts like why and how your company exists are crucial to include in your storytelling machine. These explanations are the meat of any story.
Stories help portray your company’s goal and origin. First, your company gains a deep, human level connection with your consumer. A brand story can be told through a collective group of a customer or a character. The more you relate to your consumer, the less the story seems like a sales ploy. The customer learning about the world or someone’s experience is a reason why consumers enjoy stories over traditional marketing. The audience wants to feel they are gaining information about a general topic. Showing statistics and marketing reports will gain short term attention but telling a relatable story connects people with your brand’s message and creates a memory.
Why You Want to Have a Problem
If you don’t have an issue in your story, it’s not a story. Conveying a problem is a chance to show your brand can have a solution. The story should relate to the audience and be an issue they struggle with. One way to write a problem is through the problem, agitate, solve sequence. First, you present the problem, then further discuss the impact of the issue, until you solve the problem with your product.
In a non- fiction sense, if your company has a branding issue, addressing the problem and discussing the steps to fix it illustrates credibility and trust with your customer. Telling a story through the data of site viewers is how Cortex helps other companies bridge the gap between their audience and content. This artificial intelligence uses machine learning to detect trends that work within a company's social platforms and social media pages.
Customer led storytelling conveys ethos to the audience, as they relate to the person in the content and evoke their emotions. On the other hand, if the company is addressing an issue, the CEO or a company representative telling the issue builds trust with the customer.
Brands That Tell a Perfect Story:
To conduct a brand story, you have to know your audience. These brands either tell a story about brand experience, or how they resolved an issue at hand.
“Belong anywhere” became Airbnb’s new motto when they transitioned into a hospitality company and shifted their brand experience. Airbnb thinks of their customers as people who make a space their home, instead of guests in an unfamiliar house.
In their brand message, Airbnb explains the origin of the company, but how over the years they became confused by their brand identity. What they realized is every guest experience is different because everyone’s home is different. Finally, they discovered making a comfortable experience for their guests is their brand goal.
LinkedIn previously featured a “LinkedIn’s In It Together Campaign”, as a part of their brand story. The goal of this campaign was to demolish the stereotype that LinkedIn is only used for white collar occupations, and to encourage inclusivity.
LinkedIn posted a series of documentary inspired video where of people in different fields described the various ways this social platform helped their career thrive.
This form of brand storytelling addressed a relevant issue in the company and broke a stereotype about the lack of inclusivity and relatability with their audience.
Away Travel might be a company that sells luggage, but they also sell their brand story. From travel recommendations, to personal travel stories, Away knows how to use brand storytelling as a sales tool. The company founders have developed a podcast “Airplane Mode”, a magazine “Here”, along with an impeccable Instagram page that drives their customers to not only fall in love with their suitcases, but the brand stories. The stories told are personable because real people are giving their insights into experiences and travel. Away is simultaneously aspiring people to travel and giving them the tools, their luggage, to do so.
On Away Travel's website, their “What we believe” statement focuses on customers creating a better world for the future. In doing that, they encourage people to travel, and make personable connections with others. They have also partnered with a nonprofit Peace Direct, which aids peace in areas in harm worldwide.
Whether you do so through an augmented reality or manually, a story only your company can tell is what drives engagement. Many companies have stereotypes but following some simple steps of storytelling within content will soften that. Learning storytelling machine tools is how brand experience is shaped.