In a hyper-aware market – one in which a tone-deaf tweet or half-baked pledge can spell disaster – SMEs are missing a trick. Brand storytelling.
As we know, palpable purpose is critical to a business’s survival these days. On average, purpose-driven brands grow at a rate three times faster than their competitors and enjoy greater market share gains – and it’s no wonder.
The soul of a business matters, as customers look for deeper connections than ever before; there’s nowhere to hide in the glasshouse that is social media. Issues such as how a brand cares for the environment, its communities, and its own people wield increasing influence over our purchasing decisions.
To verbalise who you are, why your brand matters, and keep your audience wanting more, you need to go primaeval: you need to tell them a story.
Here are 5 reasons why brand storytelling works so well.
1. Our brains love a good story
You don’t need an MA in Anthropology to know that humans are built to connect through the art of narrative – have been for a long time.
Far from dubious mythology, the impact of storytelling is backed by solid science. Research has shown that character-driven narratives with an emotional thread cause the brain to produce oxytocin: the chemical that belies love, compassion – all the good stuff.
This timely dose of oxytocin fuels the listener’s understanding of the information being articulated to them, inciting empathy and a sense of connection with the storyteller.
Brand storytelling is also more memorable than plainly stated facts and figures – neural activity ramps up to five times its usual rate when hearing a gripping yarn.
It enables you to powerfully communicate your purpose to your audience in a format that gets them to care, laying the groundwork for a long-lasting relationship.
2. Brand storytelling is emotional
Studies of the subconscious mind demonstrate that, contrary to what customers say they feel or think, 95% of purchasing decisions are shaped by under-the-radar drivers – ones we’re not even aware of. The biggest driver? Emotion.
When considering your brand strategy, this revelation is huge. However crisp and logically sound your marketing is, if it’s devoid of an emotional spark, its effectiveness deflates – significantly. You may think your target customer is all reason, no sentimentality, but remember emotions reign supreme.
Given the sway feelings hold over our actions, brand storytelling can act as the perfect vehicle for audience engagement. It enables you to touch base with shoppers throughout a vast visceral landscape – hope, joy, fear, doubt, self-confidence. It reminds people of the human element behind a brand.
3. Only you can tell your story
This one doesn’t need data – it’s plain as day. Your story is yours alone – it’s unique. When you’re competing against the big guns, that uniqueness is incredibly precious, because it’s something even most bottomless funds cannot buy.
You don’t need a corporate juggernaut’s marketing budget or reams of data to hone a story that connects. Yes, you need a killer creative team who know your brand inside out, but the meat of the story – that authentic grist customers crave – comes straight from you.
If you find yourself watching a film with a generic plot and generic characters, your mind is more than likely to wander, right? You’re bored.
Excellent brand storytelling amplifies and illuminates the individuals, values, and endeavours behind your brand – the things that form your purpose, set you apart, and make you relatable. These are the components that make for an exciting, attention-grabbing tale – way more appealing than the same old, same old.
4. Brand storytelling keeps your vision tight
You may know your purpose like the back of your hand, but that doesn’t mean you’re broadcasting it well. Banal website copy, dry content, and inconsistent tone do little more than dilute your brand personality – and your appeal.
While quality and price continue to be the strongest drivers behind customer choices, 55% feel that today’s brands should commit to purpose-aligned issues. When you translate your actions into a well-paced story, you let your audience know why you exist, demonstrate that you practice what you preach, and truly entertain, all at the same time.
Deloitte cites the example of Unilever’s “sustainable” brands – those focused on doing greater social good and reducing their impact on the environment. These 28 brands – among which Vaseline and Dove number – account for 75% of Unilever’s growth. Despite selling staples such as body wash and lotion, they used brand storytelling to clearly articulate their vision – and it worked.
5. It keeps you ahead of the game
The figures say it all: businesses that prioritise brand storytelling are reaping the rewards.
As the internet gobbles up an even bigger slice of our time, attention, and purchasing activity, brands that carve a discernible narrative amidst online ephemera are getting noticed. By utilising fresh avenues of value-based connection, they’re doing more than simply convert: they’re creating diehard fans.
People are looking for brands that emulate who they are – or who they want to be – and this isn’t restricted to shoppers. Purpose-centric companies report 40% higher staff retention rates, and an amazing 30% higher innovation levels.
A strategy centred on airtight brand storytelling gives you no choice but to fluently convey your purpose to your workforce, your audience, and your stakeholders. It keeps you relevant and compelling while making you more attractive to bright new talent.
To say that storytelling pays isn’t the stuff of fiction. The most innovative brands understand the value customers place on humanity: research has found that over 80% of us would happily pay extra if a business increased prices to deliver a more socially mindful, greener product, or fund better wages for its workforce.