The lovely people at PIBA asked me to contribute again to their quarterly magazine with an article on #Brand Strategy.
I have devoted my design career to branding and have delivered many identities to companies large and small over the years, so it was great to be asked to contribute to the magazine. The focus of the article is Brand Storytelling as part of your marketing strategy.
Full text below:
Brand storytelling as part of your marketing strategy
There can be many approaches to creating a successful marketing strategy however companies who only ‘sell’ to their customers can be seen as one dimensional and forgettable. Instead of selling how about you try telling… The trend towards creating brand stories and then targeting your audience with these is a much better way to engage with your audience and speak directly to them. The process by which we tell these stories has fundamentally changed, with online content building new links and business leads within a business. Content is king, and it is worthwhile noting that creating clever content is not only the fastest growth area within marketing but also one that converts audiences into customers.
But what makes a good story?
Marketing and brand storytelling should focus on the consumer’s emotional involvement and how it can be renewed, maintained and strengthened through storytelling. A good story needs to deliver, it needs to have new or interesting information that the viewer is glad to read, know and hopefully share. Think of the real world – we’ve all suffered that person unable to tell an interesting anecdote while you nod and smile politely. The online world is no different. If you trick your viewer into reading banal content they will feel cheated and won’t return. Ask yourself this – would I tell my friends this over a coffee? If the answer is no - rethink your approach. The story structure is just like the rules to writing fiction; you must have a start and middle and create a desire to stay until the end. The story should be believable and rooted in the company core values. If you think of your favourite book, it is the character that keeps you interested– so think of your brand as the main character. Just to be clear – I am not advocating the creation of a company mascot - while useful to some companies not applicable to all - however think about how you are communicating to your audience and allow your ‘character’ to find its tone of voice.
The content you generate is your way of speaking to your customers. Ireland has a remarkable amount of storytellers with a great tradition of the spoken word. Leverage this tradition to create compelling content. As a designer I am an advocate of clear communication. This does not begin and end with engaging graphics but rather encompasses all parts of the communication process - the visual language and the narrative structure, and I have worked with many clients who needed help finding this voice.
The medium is the message!
When deciding on where you will tell this story ask yourself ‘where are most of my customers?’ Popular platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter may not be right for your customer base, and the sheer amount of new social channels are constantly expanding. Whatsapp, Instagram, Pinterest and SnapChap now command huge audiences - the latter being the third most popular platform, for the 18-34 year old market. Your carefully crafted stories, told on these platforms, can move into offline brand experiences that can allow for a variety of marketing activities to meet the business’ objectives. In deciding on the best platform you need to test them out to see what gives most click-throughs, shares and comments and highest level of engagement.
You must use the 80/20 rule when developing content. If every Facebook update is a sales pitch this could wear thin so instead follow the rule that 80% of the time you speak about others, the sector you are in and interesting new information while you only spend 20% of the time speaking about yourself/product. Remember you are trying to develop a relationship not just do the ‘hard sell’ over and over again. It is also important to understand who the influencers are in your sector – this could be a blogger who has a lot of followers for example. You can connect with this person and try to build a relationship with them. They could then start sharing your content to their audience. However you cannot expect that your content will be shared if you never share other peoples. Reciprocity is key. The content you produce should also be timely – you need to publish content as part of a strategy at regular intervals.
In short, brand storytelling as part of your marketing commination strategy will develop deep relationships with existing customers, engage with a new customer base and provide an authentic way to talk about your business.