Every brand has a story to tell and the sharing nature of the Internet is showing us that that story is the key to connecting a brand with its customers.
Unlike a product or a service, a brand is something intangible. We personify brands, defining them using words like beautiful, honest, passionate, consistent, etc.
Every successful brand has at least one characteristic that people can relate to – and that’s where the story starts.
Everyone has probably seen a funny or cute cat video at some point in their lives. However, when Friskies – a cat food manufacturing brand – decided to turn to their primary feline consumer for assistance, they took the story route. Shown through the eyes of a cat introducing a kitten to its new home, the commercial touched every thread on the cute, cuddly and funny scale. Endearing itself to its customers through the story of those cats, Friskies took their brand-building storyline to a whole new level.
The Thirty Second to Thirty Minute Transition
Back in the day, television advertisements became the quintessential marketing tool, providing 30-seconds of unbridled access to brands and their offerings. But the world has changed: no longer do people passively accept the advertisements that are broadcast, they now choose to watch and share only those stories that capture their imaginations. Most people want advertising-free media, which has led to the famous “Skip” button on YouTube.
But this doesn’t mean that advertising is dead. It has simply evolved from a 30-second commercial to a much longer, much more evocative experience. Take the example of big-brand car manufacturers like BMW, Ferrari or Lamborghini who offer up mini-movies that capture the story of striving for perfection that underpins the creation of the vehicle – a story that those aspiring to have one of their own, can connect with.
What you get, instead of a 30-second advertisement, is a thirty-minute long advertisement that people know, remember and enjoy. The story itself has become the vehicle of delivery.
Forming That Emotional Connect
Online branding and marketing has moved beyond the tagline or key phrase and is part of a much larger picture that’s painted with a whole new kind of brush. There is a reason why we sit through two-hour movies but dread the thought of catching those 30-second commercials that precede them.
The fact is, people love stories – action, adventure, love or loss – we love it when people tell us things that we can relate to, emotionally. The emotional connection is the mechanism for connection, it’s how we associate ourselves with one brand over another. We don’t just buy a particular brand because of what it stands for; we also buy it because of what it means to us and how it affects us emotionally.
Solving Problems Through Stories
Think about the story-telling process as if you were at a party.
Even if there are a lot of people, we move from group to group, finally settling with a set of people we feel comfortable with.
Why do we stop at that particular group and not another? Is it because of what they are wearing or how they are standing? Or is it because they help solve a problem that we’re trying to find a solution to – which is enjoying ourselves?
A marketplace is much like a party. And every group is like a brand with a theme. When the story of that group gets interesting, more people join it and it becomes larger.
Not everyone likes the same story, which is why there are different groups, but in essence, there are always going to be groups and the ratio of the size of the group to the quality of the story is always going to be in proportion.
Whether you take the approach of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which follows the “what it could be” problem-storyline before revealing their products or solutions with a “Look, what we’ve got!” approach; or go down the “Share a Coke” concept of connecting people through a can of fizzy drink, successful modern brands are telling stories to connect with consumers.
Heartfelt content that creates a serious, solid connection with individuals is remembered, admired, appreciated and accepted more by people today, as compared to sales-based marketing messages that try, rather blatantly, to yank money out of people’s pockets – even if it is in exchange for a product that will solve a particular problem.
The need to publish stories that set up that emotional connection has made services like Zeentree indispensable to many brands. With a great online publishing service, brands can simplify their process of delivering heart-warming stories that build customer-relationships that last a lifetime.