Brand Storytelling: How To Capture Attention With Creative Content17 min read

Branding June 27, 2022 10 min read

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Brand Storytelling: How To Capture Attention With Creative Content17 min read

Reading Time: 10 minutes

Stories light up our brains. It’s not a metaphor. It’s science. We (humans) communicate through stories. And the best ones grab and hold our attention.

Great marketing tells a story. It’s meant to create brand awareness. And make people feel something at the same time.

Think of content like a page of your brand’s story. Or sometimes a whole chapter. Everything you share with your target audience counts towards it. So, let’s learn how to make it captivating.

Here’s how to weave creative content marketing into brand storytelling:

There are plenty of examples throughout, too.

What is brand storytelling?

Trust is a powerful emotional response. And people reward trusted brands with advocacy (61%), purchase (57%), loyalty (43%), and engagement (31%). 

But what about the flip side? Well, 2 in 5 people (40%) stop buying from some brands they love because they don’t trust who owns them.

So, how do brands earn people’s trust? Well, customers have to be able to relate to them. Not just what they sell. But what they stand for.

Source: GIPHY

Brand storytelling highlights your core values. And your content strategy will paint your brand identity. On your site, store, and social media platforms. This is how you make the connection.

Here’s are some brands with super strong identities:

  • Nike motivates you to get out there and start working towards your goals
  • Airbnb encourages you to immerse yourself in adventure and experience
  • Apple oozes design, innovation, and creativity

And it’s all built on the content they put out. And how they “speak” to people. How they position themselves in the market.

Disney takes this narrative to another level. Because its whole identity is based on storytelling. And its marketing strategy reflects this. All Disney’s content taps into the most powerful emotions. For kids, it’s awe and wonder. For adults, it’s nostalgia.

Watch this and see how you feel after:

All these brands focus on their customer experience. And they make sure their digital marketing tells a good story.

Brand storytelling on social media

Social media used to be about connecting with friends and family. And it still is. But it’s evolved into the go-to place for content marketing campaigns. Especially for brand storytelling.

It also gives you access to the different demographics in your audience. Because they will all be on different platforms. But this means you might need to tweak your story structure to appeal to each group. (More on this later.)

Source: Hootsuite

Social shares can indicate the success of your brand storytelling. But people need to be able to relate to your content. Otherwise, they won’t share it. They need to find it funny or inspiring. Maybe even shocking. They just have to feel something.

Because when we feel strong emotions, we want to share them with others. It’s human nature. It happens sitting round a campfire. And now, it mostly happens online.

How to create an emotional connection (+ examples of brand storytelling)

Automation is really handy for businesses. But brand storytelling is about connecting with old and new customers on an emotional level. For that, you need a human touch.

Social media engagement builds brand loyalty. It’s all about being genuine when you interact. And (technically) everything you post counts as “content”. So every comment and reply counts. Remember, it’s all part of your story.

It’s worth it too. Emotionally-engaged customers are:

  1. 3x more likely to recommend you to others
  2. 3x more likely to repurchase
  3. Less price sensitive
  4. Less likely to shop around

Source: USP

A lot of it is based on your brand voice. Not just what you’re saying. But how you say it. It’s how the connection starts. So, you’ll need to know your audience. How they speak and what motivates them. But I’ll get to that in a sec.

When creating content, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What do you want people to feel?
  2. What are the main takeaways of the story?
  3. What’s your CTA (call to action)?

Creating an emotional connection can be that simple. If you’re able to answer these 3 questions each time. Think about non-profit videos about countries at war: 

  1. They’re designed to shock and upset people
  2. They show the impact on families just like yours
  3. And they compel us to donate

Notice how you feel after watching this ad:

Heavy, right? These are negative emotions. But they still spur us into action. Video content can be really powerful. The Reykjavik Marathon went down the opposite route with theirs:

  1. They created a funny and lighthearted ad
  2. It showed all the different (dramatic) reasons people run
  3. They wanted to increase sign-ups for the event

The emotion you pick will depend on your brand and niche. It can also change depending on your current focus. Don’t think you have to be hilarious all the time.

You could be a one-time transaction. Or have a product that’s an essential in people’s lives. And it’s the power of storytelling that’ll make you the latter.

Aim all messaging at your target audience

Every great brand strategy starts with this step. Audience research. You have to find out who these people are.

You can do this in a few ways:

  1. Check out your competitors’ audiences
  2. Try a social listening tool
  3. Use social media platform insights
  4. Analyze current customers using Google Analytics

You can create fictional customer persona templates too. But they have to be based on real people.

Source: My Internet Scout

Then it’s time to find out what they want. What makes them tick. And how your product or service fits in with that. You can survey your audience to find their pain points. Or scroll their social media sites. It’s pretty easy to get an insight into people’s lives through Twitter ramblings.

Your aim is then to tell people who you are. Also, what you do. And why you’re different. All through your content.

The following has to be obvious:

  • Your USP (unique selling point)
  • Your brand goals
  • You know what content your audience cares about
  • How your story started

People don’t just buy from brands anymore. They build relationships with them. There’s even research to suggest we can feel about brands the way we do about people. 

But it all depends on the brand identity you create. And how you get it across. So once you know your audience, target all messaging towards them. And make sure it resonates. 

Create a document to summarize who you are. Even the smaller details. Like your tagline. Each brand’s content marketing evolves from this.

It summarizes your core values. And starts your story. So, let’s take our previous examples and see how they measure up:

  • Nike – “Just do it”
  • Airbnb – “Belong anywhere”
  • Apple – “Think different”
  • Disneyland – “The most magical place on Earth”

Source: Disney Food Blog

This is each company’s brand identity in a few words. But they also spark emotion. Do you feel wanderlust from Airbnb’s? Motivated by Nike? I sure do.

Make your customer the main character

Successful brands know how to put the focus on their customers. Your brand should be playing the supporting role. You’re going to get your hero to where they need to be.

Customer-centric marketing does what it says on the tin. And brand storytelling should do the same. You want to include your customer in your narrative. Showcase them

Now, there are a few ways to do this. But the 2 main methods to keep in mind are:

  • Show you know what they want
  • Build trust with social proof

Show you know what they want

This is a really simple switch. But it’s something so many businesses get wrong. If you only remember one piece of advice, make it this. Don’t make it all about you. Involve your reader in your content.

Source: Marketing Examples

Show how you’re going to solve their problem. Even in things like your product descriptions. Yes, they’re a part of brand storytelling too. Check out how Weber turns their grill features into a relatable scenario:

Source: Weber

You can almost see yourself at that BBQ or cookout.

Sustainable dog products company Beco does this really well too. They target eco-conscious dog owners. (Full disclosure: I’m one.) Yes, I want my pup to have fun. But not at the expense of the environment, right?

All content on their site shows their commitment to renewables and conservation. But it’s also really clear that quality is a priority too. The description makes me and my dog happy. Win-win!

Source: Beco

As you can see in their product descriptions, they also include reviews. And this is another tactic that puts your audience in the spotlight. A marketing psychology principle known as “social proof”. 

Build trust with social proof

Social proof shows how we’re influenced by other people. Especially when it comes to purchasing decisions. It helps us build trust. And 81% of consumers agree they need to trust brands before buying from them.

Source: Oberlo

This is why reviews are so popular. Displaying them shows you value your customers and their opinions. And you’re not trying to hide anything.

Your reviews are also great for content copywriting ideas. Especially bad reviews on competitor sites.

Source: Twitter

You want to use your target audience’s language to relate to them more. Take customer stories and use them to craft your own.

User-generated content (UGC) is perfect for this too. Because people tend to trust people. Not brands. So, it adds instant credibility to the value you promise.

Source: Social Media Today

79% of people agree that UGC highly impacts purchasing decisions too. Rather than brand (12%) or influencer-created (9%).

So, start thinking about how you can get product/service reviews. Usually, it’s pretty easy to add these to your site. And try to encourage UGC where you can. Try a hashtag campaign or competition on social media.

Just get real people to share their experiences. Then you can use them to improve the one you’re selling.

Use the strengths of each social platform

Your site is unique. You can do anything you want there. But social media is a different ball game.

Social media platforms run on content. But it’s hard to capture and keep your audience’s attention. Mostly because there’s a never-ending supply. 

It’s hard. But it’s not impossible. You just have to focus on certain types of content (depending where you’re active). Luckily, you can tell stories in lots of different formats.

Twitter

One of the best brand storytelling formats on Twitter is Threads. These are a series of connected Tweets from one account. You’re obviously limited by characters here. So, they allow you to keep the flow going.

You’ll see these used a lot by thought leaders. The first one draws people into your story:

Or you can use them to continue the joke:

You can use them as a standalone story. Or they can be a condensed version of an external article or blog post. Broken up into bite-sized chunks. The TL;DR version, if you will.

Snapchat/TikTok

Snapchat is kind of the visual version of Twitter Threads. Short clips that form a cohesive message. So, use it that way.

TikTok is a single short-form video. But it can be a powerful content marketing channel for businesses. Social Media Examiner explained it well:

“In TikTok, storytelling includes everything from the copy you use in your caption, to the background for your videos, to the movements and words expressed in the video. Storytelling is an experience for the viewers. When done well, those viewers will stick around.”

@starbucks

Iced Coffee Margarita? Say less.🍹 Recipe pinned in the comments. Must be 21+, enjoy responsibly. #Starbucks #IcedCoffee #DrinkRecipe

♬ original sound – Starbucks

You can show people ways to use your product. Or maybe to take a look behind the scenes of your company. Try jumping on trends too. Just bring people into the story and relate to you.

YouTube

YouTube is better suited to longer video content. It’s the easiest way to get across a great story. Because you’re showing, not telling. And our brains process images a heck of a lot faster than words.

Baby brand Pampers does an awesome job of telling a story with barely any words:

As does Red Bull. Focusing on their brand identity of adrenaline and adventure:

You could also film your brand’s podcast and upload it. Create a challenge video. Or how about a comedy skit? You’re only limited by your imagination. (And YouTube’s Community Guidelines.)

LinkedIn/Facebook

LinkedIn and Facebook are perfect for written content. You can keep it the length of a social post. Or link to a longer article.

It can also feel really personal. Like you’re speaking to a friend. Fitness expert The Body Coach is awesome at this:

Source: Facebook

Case studies can also be super relatable if researched well. They’re a form of user-generated content too. And we know UGC performs well.

Disney uses these to highlight their employees on LinkedIn:

Source: LinkedIn

Whichever platform you use, don’t forget to track your metrics and analytics. Find out which content is performing and which isn’t. Then you’ll be able to adjust your strategy for future success.

Conclusion

Brand storytelling shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your whole marketing strategy should be based on it. And creating content can be a chance to get really creative. 

We all crave connection. It’s why social media is so big in the digital age. Stories help bridge that gap between brands and people. If you can make the customer the hero of your story, you’re steps ahead of most businesses.

But before you can create your story, you need to know who you are. So, focus on nailing down your brand identity. And your core values. It’ll make everything afterward fall into place a lot easier.

What content has had a big impact on you recently? Are there any brands I haven’t mentioned who should have been? Let us know in the comments below.

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Brand Storytelling: How To Capture Attention With Creative Content
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Brand Storytelling: How To Capture Attention With Creative Content
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Brand storytelling is about connecting with customers on an emotional level. Here's how to do it with creative content marketing.
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