People don’t buy products, but rather the stories that these products represent. Nor do they buy brands, but rather the myths and architypes that these brands symbolize.
Just as every individual has a unique story to tell, so does every brand. Social media provides the perfect platform for companies to connect with consumers and develop ongoing stories that help fuel the fire behind their brand. There are many elements that go into creating and developing a story, but the key to success is having strong brand standards and consistency. If a brand is not consistent with their story, consumers are unlikely to buy into it.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Social media is about visuals that capture immediate attention. Images have a definitive impact on customer engagement. Imagery in social media humanizes an organization, increases customer trust, and, in turn, encourages customers to do business with that company. As mentioned before, being consistent when it comes to branding is vital, and there is no exception when it comes to using proper visuals.
Telling a Story
Brand storytelling is the part of the brand that sticks with consumers. The key is to harness the power of social networks, not simply to “share” content, but to tell a story and narrate the brand. Smart brands don’t use social media platforms as just another distribution channel, but rather as a conversation channel to convey experiences, feelings, values, dreams, failures, successes, and truths. Nearly ninety percent of consumers and potential consumers are not interested in a sales pitch. They care about what the brand promises, how the message of the brand makes them feel, and how they see themselves along with the rest of society when consuming that brand.
Creating Brand Experience
Telling an effective story begins with creating a total brand experience. This method allows companies to build immersive experiences for their customers, causing them to feel their brand. The brand experience is conceptualized as sensations, feelings, perceptions, and behavioral responses that are evoked by brand-related stimuli in a brand’s design, identity, packaging, communication, and environment. For this to work, the experience must feel complete and consistent whenever consumers interact with the brand. It is one of the keys to successful storytelling and should be built into a company’s overall marketing package.
By attaching a story to a brand and creating a brand experience, the company is attaching emotion to their brand. It is the art of giving shape and meaning to information that is otherwise simply a product or service. In advertising, combining an idea with an emotion is also one of the most powerful tools of persuasion. The process in which a brand blends emotion and storytelling helps eliminate consumer skepticism. By believing the story and becoming engaged, people let go of the rational considerations they may have had before their emotions made the connection. For example, if an ad was simply the picture of a product combined with a list of its attributes, a consumer is unlikely to make a connection with that brand or product. The secret lies with a brand’s ability to utilize an emotional story. A story that allows a company to convey its values and integrate its position on any given issue. With consistent branding, an organization’s narrative can survive on its own.
Steps to successfully integrate emotion into a brand story include:
- Using a basic story structure
- Aligning the story with audience values
- Revealing the brand’s human side
- Featuring a unique value proposition
- Incorporating elements of the brand story into every post
- Sharing consecutive posts to tell a broader story
Tips for successful storytelling: choose a coherent message for the audience, select the right platform as the central storytelling hub, and be authentic. These apply to both social media and websites. The brand should tell a story using both information and graphics that are easy to scan and navigate. Social media is treated just like any other medium when considering effectiveness. Each platform has its own requirements and positioning that must be considered during design.
Differentiating the Brand Story
Create videos, be authentic, offer consistency in messaging, and provide value. These are all great ways for brands to set themselves apart from the rest. Brands need to create the perception that they are unique. The word “perception” is key. What really counts is not how unique a brand is, but how unique people think it is. Having a precise target audience, maintaining a consistent image, and developing a distinct personality make a brand recognizable and unique.
So, there you have it. It is not simply the physical product people seek, but the story behind it. Storytelling is the art of giving meaning to a piece of information that is otherwise simply a product or service, and consumers want to know how they can become a part of that story. By using social media, a brand capitalizes on an opportunity to show off its human side and connect with customers on a deeper level.