In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.
Lately it seems like everyone is talking about storytelling when it comes to brand marketing. It might be tempting to dismiss this as the latest marketing buzzword. After all, the whole idea of storytelling seems to run counter to the current marketing landscape, where digital is in and short-form content reigns. Is storytelling simply a passing fad in an industry already overrun with “next big things”? I don’t think so. In fact, I think storytelling is actually the oldest sales tool in the world and a veritable ground zero for marketing success. Here are five tips that will help you identify, create and share your own unique brand story, and ensure that it stays relevant to your target audience over time.
Research your competitors and figure out what factors differentiate your product or service from other companies operating in your industry. Spend time doing market research to find out what your target customers are looking for from a company like yours, what makes them loyal to a brand and how they’ll likely engage with your marketing messages.
Armed with the results of your research, determine how you can tell your brand story in a way that will “click” for your target audience. Maybe you’re running a farm-to-table restaurant in a rural area where folks would appreciate your support of local farmers. Or maybe your family has a long history in the community that you can share to gain trust from your customers. Your story lies in the intersection between what your customer wants to hear and what you want them to know about you.
Forbes makes a great case for using the basic concepts of fiction-writing in your storytelling, while remaining true to the reality of what you do. This Google Chrome example perfectly illustrates how to tell a story that shows (rather than telling) the benefits of a product, all while creating an emotional connection for the audience. Another great example of this is The Joy of Storage ad from Ikea. Aim to strike this balance when telling your story, and get creative with how you bring it to life. Create likeable characters, use humour and, above all, know your audience.
Marshall McLuhan famously wrote that it is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action”. Given the sheer number of different media available to any marketer— and inundating every consumer—this idea might be even more relevant today than it was when McLuhan wrote it in the 1960’s. Always consider the preferences of your target consumer when deciding which medium is best for reaching them. Even though digital is king, if your key customers are senior citizens, you might be better off using more traditional tactics, like flyer advertising.
It’s also important to think about the limitations of your chosen medium. For example, videos are great for some audiences, but they need to be kept short and very engaging. Always consider the experience your customer will have with your marketing messages based on how (or if!) they engage with your chosen medium. The medium you use to tell your story is just as important as the words you use to bring it to life.
To truly build a brand story the way Guinness and Ikea have over the years, you have to be consistent with your marketing approach. That means you need to focus on one message and make sure that it’s woven into the fabric of all of your marketing efforts. Remember that you’re trying to create an overall narrative, a storyline, into which each marketing piece you create will fit.
Equally important, however, is flexibility. You need to pay close attention to evolving trends, both in how your customers are reacting to your marketing (what they like and don’t like) and in what is happening more broadly in the market (new technologies that change user behaviour). Track results regularly, draw insights and don’t be afraid to react to these trends and evolve your brand, slowly and subtly.
Give these five tactics a try and you’ll be well on your way to telling a great story with your company brand!
Written By: Kristin Knapp, Content Copywriter, Futurpreneur Canada