Brands are constantly battling for the attention of their audience. This is quite a challenge as there is an incredible volume of content bombarding consumers each day, every day.
Consider what happens every sixty seconds online. Each year, Lori Lewis and Chadd Callahan create an infographic of What Happens in an Internet Minute. Here are a few highlights from this year:
- 190 million emails are sent
- Over 21 million texts sent
- 4 million scrolling Facebook
- 695,000 Stories Shared on Instagram
- 500 Hours of Content Uploaded to YouTube
How can marketers help brands possibly stand out in this overwhelming sea of content? The answer may surprise you. It is not some fancy new technology. In fact, the solution to connecting your message with your audience dates back 30,000 years!
From the early Chauvet Cave drawings, human beings have been utilizing the power of story to effectively communicate. The power of a story is illustrated in how the brain reacts when someone tells a story as opposed to simply listening to facts and figures. Listener’s brains light up when they hear a story and the parts of their brain that light up are those that the listener would use if they were experiencing the action of the story.
While the platforms and method of delivery for stories have certainly evolved, some of the fundamentals of telling compelling stories remain.
Here are 7 Ways to Make Your Brand’s Storytelling Stand Out from the Noise.
1. Know Your Audience
It may seem obvious, but many brands are too focused on their own wonderful attributes and sharing what makes them great that they fail to heed the importance of not only identifying but understanding their target audience. A brand story might seem powerful to one group and may fall flat to another. The goal is to find the right story for your audience. While it may be a hard pill to swallow – no one cares what you do. People only care about what you can do…for them!
2. Be Authentic
Consumer’s ability to detect BS is more attuned than ever. The popular notion of “faking it to you make it,” is a dangerous proposition when your brand reputation is at stake. There is also too much emphasis on representing the perfect, polished image of your brand. Social media has perpetuated the idea of showcasing a brand’s best self – yet your audience isn’t looking for perfection – they are looking for what’s real. Being genuine in the story you tell is critical to building the trusting relationship required to convert a potential buyer into a customer. Sharing stories of the challenges of your business can be very appealing to an audience. Be true to your brand. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be Yourself, everyone else is taken.”
3. Share Your Why
Simon Sinek’s book and Tedx talk Start with Why share from a biological perspective how people make buying decisions.
“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.” Simon Sinek
Sinek’s proposition is rooted in how successful brands create loyalty among their customers. Using this concept, brands can leverage the power of the story by crafting narratives about their purpose, their mission their belief systems which should be infused into their brand foundation. Telling stories about why you do what you do will help your brand stand out from the clutter of competitors simply sharing what they do.
4. Make it Emotional
Data or information on its own rarely connects with people. It is the successful integration of significant data into a narrative that penetrates into the hearts and minds of an audience and makes them care enough to engage in a meaningful way.
Maya Angelou shared it this way:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The goal of any marketing is to compel someone into taking some action. Creating stories with an emotional component will increase the likelihood of your audience taking that action.
5. K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid
Often attributed to aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson “Keep it simple, stupid (KISS) “is a design principle which states that designs and/or systems should be as simple as possible. Wherever possible, complexity should be avoided in a system—as simplicity guarantees the greatest levels of user acceptance and interaction.”
This certainly should apply to crafting brand communication and stories.
Ensure that you don’t use too much industry jargon if you are speaking to a non-technical audience. As well, keep the story structure simple with a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Overcomplicating a story will confuse and in some cases annoy your audience. Simplicity will be rewarded with greater understanding and interaction from your audience which will enable a brand to stand out.
6. Start with their Problem
As stated earlier, brands need to know their audience and what matters to them. An easy way to ensure you are connecting with the audience is to start with the problem your business’ product or service solves. By starting with the problem (or pain) it will immediately attract the attention of those who possess that problem. The story will stand out as they will inherently want to find a way to resolve their issue. Start with their problem to capture their attention and then showcase how your brand’s product or service can help them alleviate or eliminate that problem.
7. Make It Visual (especially video and animation)
We are visual creatures. Over 65% of humans are visual learners. The human brain processes visual content 60,000 times more than text. Using visuals to tell your story, whether through images, video, or corporate animation provide powerful ways to engage an audience. With another 30% of the population being auditory learners, when you use video or animation production there is an even greater impact on the audience connecting with your story.
While the pace of content shows no signs of slowing, using the incredible power of story and the tips above, brands can stand out from their competition and communicate more effectively with their audience.
Geoffrey Klein is the Founder & CEO of nine dots, a video and animation company that helps businesses share their message through visual communication to connect with their audience. Geoffrey is also a Tedx speaker and an adjunct professor at Temple University’s School of Media & Communications. His experience spans from being legally trained to working for Seth Godin to working on major motion pictures at Paramount Pictures and MGM Studios.