Storytelling has been a hallmark of the human experience since long before the invention of writing. But the power of narration goes beyond mere entertainment — it is a channel to share knowledge, values and culture with the rest of the community.
When it comes to content marketing, perhaps nothing is more powerful than the stories that brands are telling the world.
Charismatic leaders rely on a good story to sell their ideas, because they understand the role that storytelling plays in capturing the attention of the audience.
Arguably one of the best storytellers of our time, former President of the United States of America Barack Obama used storytelling to his advantage in almost every speech he gave while in office. By sharing anecdotes about the people he met, Obama speaks a language that his audience can easily relate to.
He himself always knew the power of a good narrative, especially when told from the position of a leader: “But the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times”, he said in a 2012 interview.
Likewise, storytelling is a great way to create a cohesive company culture that accurately reflects the brand’s intentions in the eyes of the public.
Companies like Tesla have long been able to achieve higher valuations through telling the story of their brand effectively. In Tesla’s case, it was not just the environmental and performance benefits of electric motoring — and how this was more effective than its competitors — but it was also the way it highlighted its own limitations. It’s worth noting that some of Elon Musk’s more controversial “stories” have caused Tesla’s valuations to dip as well, a testament to the fact that these brand stories really do matter.
In many ways, the production of such content is a direct response to what consumers are looking for. The emergence of corporate content brands, such as Microsoft’s Asia Newsroom, is testament to that fact.
“We’re writing content that we want to inform people about. We want to tell people about what we’re doing, and what our clients or customers are doing with our technology. People want to know about the products and about the services we provide. They’re more interested than ever before about the ethics behind what companies are doing and the values they have. They tend not to turn a blind eye as much as they used to,” says Microsoft Asia Digital Content Editor Geoff Spencer.
See what Geoff Spencer has to say about the emergence of corporate content brands in the latest episode of The Content Show.
By humanising the brand, storytelling can build trust and trigger an emotional engagement with its consumers. But how do you stir such emotions in your audience?
Some of the most successful companies in the world have an inspiring story behind them that’s often tied to the personal narratives of their founders. These stories work to imbue a sense of purpose and meaning into what the brand does, helping consumers believe in the company and the values it stands for.
Nike has this down to a T. Nearly every campaign they put out has a strong inspirational message behind it that’s tied to their motto: Just Do It. Just do it, even when it’s hard. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when you’re tired. No excuses, just do it. Except when it comes to racism — then don’t do it.
In the end, the most important factor lies in the connection that brands can make with an audience.
Wharton Business School Marketing Professor Jonah Berger writes in his best-selling book Contagious: Why Things Catch On — unfortunately named for the times but a good read — that stories are a Trojan Horse and a fundamental part of ‘why things catch on’.
“People don’t just share information, they tell stories,” he says. “Like the epic tale of the Trojan Horse, stories are the vessels that carry things such as morals and lessons.”
Berger writes, when we care, we share. Microsoft’s Geoff Spencer says this is important to remember.
“Why would somebody outside of your company, or outside of your ecosystem, want to spend their time reading or watching or listening to stuff that you’re doing if it doesn’t affect them, if it doesn’t hit them in some way?” says Geoff.
Good relationships are built upon empathy, and the same applies for the relationship a brand shares with its consumers. By formulating this genuine, almost “human” connection, corporate storytelling connects people with the brand, its campaigns and ultimately its products.
“People are self-identifying with brands. And a brand like Microsoft has so many touch points in almost everyone’s lives on a day-to-day basis. That’s a story in itself, and people are always interested in a story. They’re interested in a narrative to explain what they don’t understand and what they want to know more about, what makes them feel comfortable or what makes them feel uncomfortable, but it hits all those human responses,” says Geoff.
Creating meaningful content about a brand and how it helps empower its consumers can give companies a leg up on the competition. In fact, research has shown that the decision making process is largely driven by emotions. So a good story that touches the emotions of the audience is paramount to the brand’s ability to influence consumers into choosing them over their competitors.
Providing information about the brand’s story and what it does can definitely go a long way in marketing the brand. Does your brand have a story to tell? Let us help you. Talk to our CEO Simon Kearney at [email protected].
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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.