Brands & Storytelling: Tell Stories That Matter To You

Telling stories is part of our makeup as human beings. We have been gathered around a “fire” for thousands of years, and the sharing, and eventual documenting, of stories has been a human constant throughout recorded history, and undoubtedly even before.

As much as the world has changed, and social media, video chatting and many other technologies have emerged and changed the way that we communicate, we still tell stories.

Today we live in an era of super consumers who are curious, engaged and very knowledgeable, but we still haven’t fallen so far out of touch that storytelling doesn’t speak to a fundamental part of us.

Without a doubt we rely on these technologies to communicate, but does this mean we are disconnected? Or is it an indication that we have expanded our reach? The world can, in a sense, hold itself accountable through these mediums.

Why Marketers Should Learn From Storytelling

Our individual stories are about identity, and even when we are telling other people’s stories, how we relate to those people and how we communicate their stories, says a lot about how we identify with the world. And the same thing is also true for brands.

People don’t want sales pitch after sales pitch, but they also don’t want stories that don’t feel true, and people are good, both consciously and subconsciously, at telling the difference.

Don’t just create your brand story, tell it.

If you’re busy saying right now that you don’t have a brand story, ask yourself why. What are your values? Where did you come from and where are you going? Are you being authentic as a brand?

Storytelling is about authenticity.

It is a form of expression, an evolution of humanity. The mediums with which we communicate have changed, but our love for stories has not. If anything in many ways we have better access to each other.

Of course, like most things, this has pros and cons. Access to a wider range of people can provide community and assistance, but at the same time, it might expose you to harm. For example, we’ve seen issues like cyberbullying and trolling prevalent in almost all age groups.

How To Tell Stories

These days, the obvious choice for storytelling is video. If we look at the stats about video, we can also see that the market is loving it.

  • 78% of people watch online videos every week, and 55% view online videos every day. (HubSpot)
  • By 2020, online videos will make up more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic (85% in the US). (Cisco)
  • YouTube is the second most trafficked site, after Google. (Alexa)
  • One minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. (Forrester Research)
  • Users view more than 500 million hours of video each day on YouTube. (Business Insider)

Not all brands have the time and resources to create video content, but if you don’t, and you’re committed to online marketing, you should be trying to get the right resources to do it.

People want to consume video, the more authentic the video looks the more people are likely to relate to it.

Be Emotive

Storytelling needs to be be emotive to be effective, but this doesn’t mean “bring on the waterworks.”

There is a whole range of emotions that marketers can tap into, from anger to happiness, and everything in between.  People are multifaceted creatures…we don’t only exist in the prism of a single emotion.

The emotion used speaks to clear understanding of the brand’s mission, vision and values.

Understanding this allows us to best tell the brand story authentically creating associations and encouraging brand loyalty.

Four Marketing Lessons From Black Panther

Black Panther, the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe offering, has broken all sorts of records by becoming something of a movement amongst its audience, even before its release. What the movie represented to that audience broke the previous biggest pre-sold ticket record. Imagine what that could do for your brand?

Brands tend to stay away from issues of identity because it is a tricky subject matter, especially for a country like South Africa.  However, brand identity is by far the most important conversation for marketers to have, in order to communicate with a conscious, alert and engaged audience.

Go into the communities you are communicating with, avoid stereotypical association, and you can touch your customers in ways you have never managed before.

  • Black Panther debunks our ides of mainstream: So often brands do not explore stories because they don’t believe they are mainstream enough.
  • Fight for what you believe in: Brands need to stick to their values, be proud of what they stand for as an organisation.
  • Representation is key: This speaks to brands internally, look at your staff and ask yourself, do we represent the community we are trying to communicate with?
  • Be creative and imaginative: Allow your brand to do things differently.


Wrapping Up

Storytelling is not just a buzzword. As long as we are alive, we will have stories to tell. As brands, one of our jobs is to figure out what our own stories are, and how we relate to other peoples stories.

Once we figure this out, we can begin to tell authentic stories that will make an impact and deliver on return on investment.