Market Well: Why Storytelling Should Be Part Of Your Marketing Framework – Part 2

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Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.

Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Director of Marketing for Equinox in the UK, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.

Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is continuing to focus on why storytelling is vital when it comes to marketing…..

Last month we looked at how storytelling in marketing can create an important emotional connection with customers. We ran through the common story structures and touched on how storytelling is starting to change as consumers demand more transparency from brands.

This month, let’s discuss how wellness brands can approach storytelling in their brand planning, focusing on the key elements to keep in mind as you start to craft your own brand story.

What does your brand stand for?

The shift in storytelling mentioned last month is in part due to the ever-increasing demand from consumers to see brands behaving authentically.

It’s no longer enough to tell a brand story in an advert. Your story has to be central to your brand’s behaviour, through everything from recruitment to your tone of voice on social media. Congruence is key.

Since launching in 1984, Burt’s Bees has focused on the simple philosophy of creating natural products that benefit its customers and the environment.

Staying true to their beliefs throughout, the founders turned a craft fair venture into a brand that sold for $913 million.

Burt’s Bees brings customers into its philosophy through storytelling. The brand shares videos educating customers on its environmental work — customers can go on a virtual tour of Burt’s home, gaining insights into his simple way of living. And through social the brand shares stories of its team and customers with campaigns such as the #selflessselfie, which enabled it to donate over 10,000 acres of wildflowers to support bees.

Knowing and living by what your brand stands for is the first step in establishing an effective story.

Know your audience, be specific

The best stories create an emotional response, and when that happens it can divide people. Your story should speak to your tribe without fear of repelling others.

Nike’s ‘Nothing Beats a Londoner’ advert immediately went viral. To support the video, Nike hosted several activations including free classes in underserved neighbourhoods of London and a charity dodgeball game in Lambeth. Nike created experiences that served its audience.

The campaign was hailed a huge success but there was no shortage of critics, from those calling out the importance of other UK cities to the Royal Yachting Association which created a parody video claiming that ‘nothing beats a sailor’.

The point being that Nike knew who it wanted to connect with. The brand created the campaign for its core audience and that group connected with the way it was told.

When London hosted the Olympics in 2012 few could forget the epic success of the P&G ‘Thanks Mum’ campaign.

While other brands focused on stories around the athletes, P&G made an unexpected move by featuring the mothers, creating an emotional campaign that spoke directly to its core customers.

If you try to encompass too many groups your story won’t land. So, don’t be afraid to focus on the people that are central to your business success.

Know your market, be unexpected

To say there’s no shortage of content being produced would be an understatement. So, before you launch into telling your brand story, get to know the market and the approach being taken by others in your field.

When cousins Jas Bagniewski and Kuba Wieczorek founded mattress company Eve, they reviewed other brands in the space. Not only did they want to disrupt the customer experience and delivery process, but the story around their product category as well.

They noticed that most mattress brands told a sleep story –– brand colours were blues and greys and adverts were told in a whisper. Wieczorek recognised that the goal attached to sleep, was to have a good day after waking up, thus the brand’s strapline ‘every great day starts the night before’ was born. In addition, the brand’s colour is yellow and its storytelling involves energy and movement.

Tying back to the focus on brand purpose, Eve managed to take an unexpected approach to storytelling within its category and that’s what caught consumer attention.

Why Storytelling Should Be Part Of Your Marketing Framework

Image: Eve

Establish a human connection

It’s been mentioned here before but as the world becomes ever more digital, consumers are in need of more human connection. How can your brand tell a story that connects on a human, emotional level?

Cult indoor cycling brand SoulCycle’s mission was to create an alternative fitness programme that brings together a community.  The brand has created an enviable connection with its customer base, and one that has always tied back to its focus on ‘aspiring to inspire’.

Last year, SoulCycle introduced its first brand campaign since it launched 11 years ago. The ‘Find It’ campaign features its team encouraging riders to find their best self, to find their soul.

The content certainly won’t appeal to everyone, but it captures the energy and inspiration that SoulCycle is renowned for, in a way that speaks to its tribe.

Storytelling? Story creating? Story sharing?

Something not yet touched upon that ties many of these brand examples together, is the fact that they feature real people – employees, customers and members of the public.

Insights company Forrester warned that 2018 could be a year of reckoning for brands, as consumer trust is at an all-time low.

But if consumers are cynical towards brands and demanding transparency, co-creation of stories and content is perhaps the best approach to circumvent this issue.

Airbnb is often hailed as a master of storytelling, starting from the brand’s mission, which focuses on belonging rather than transactional accommodation.

Airbnb’s business is entirely based on its audience, the hosts and the guests. The brand uses customer stories to give new and potential customers answers to common questions like ‘what will my hosts be like?’ and ‘how can I get a sense of belonging in a foreign city?’

By telling a story with and for your audience, your brand has a greater chance of becoming an intrinsic part of their lives, building trust and ultimately creating business success.

Have a plan

Telling a story with one 60 second online video and then moving onto the next focus won’t help your brand become memorable, and it won’t support you in creating an authentic position. It’s important to have a forward-looking plan and to create different stages within your storytelling, and across all of your different touch points.

Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought, as you consider the content you share and how you interact with your audience. Now, you can start to craft stories that really resonate.

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