Behind every successful brand is a successful brand story. Creating that story, however, isn’t as simple as it sounds. It requires a lot of thought and strategy on what message to send to what audiences and how to communicate the same messages across different channels.
Marketing teams can learn the necessary skills to make their stories as engaging as possible. Thomas Peham, the vice president of marketing at Storyblok, spoke with CMSWire about how companies can craft an effective brand, what storytelling mistakes to avoid and how to engage audiences across different channels.
How to Tell a Good Story
Authenticity is the most important factor in a brand story, but creating a story that comes across as authentic to audiences is easier said than done, Peham says. This is one reason why a founder-first brand story works well for startups, he added. Founders are genuinely passionate about and committed to their company, and they can tell a story from an authentic, first-person perspective. A sincere story like this can easily resonate with people for companies that are not startups as well.
A brand story should also show that the company is knowledgeable about its field and convincingly exhibit empathy toward its audience’s challenges, Peham says. Marketing teams can start by thinking closely about their target audience, what their personalities are like and what they care about. They should also use genuine language rather than buzzwords or jargon to connect with this audience.
“Fancy words tell a certain story, but at the end of the day, if that doesn't resonate [and] if that doesn't create any emotion with your target audience, it won't do any good,” Peham says.
As you start crafting a brand story that is authentic, empathetic and knowledgeable, Peham suggests that you start with the basic features of a successful story. Essentially, you should be very clear about what the company stands for, what its people are like and what its goals are. Beyond this, make sure the marketing team is communicating and collaborating with the rest of the company so that the messaging is consistent across the rest of the business.
What Mistakes to Avoid While Telling Your Brand Story
The most common mistake businesses make when creating a brand story is making the language too corporate and forgetting about the human component, Peham says. This may look like a broad story that doesn’t send a clear message to the audience about what the company represents. The best brands bring something to the table and stand by their clear, specific brand story, Peham says. For example, Patagonia is known for caring about environmental issues and having a clear, eco-friendly brand story.
“As businesses, we try to not get into too many discussions or fights. That sometimes means we don't want to formulate an opinion. We want to stay neutral with our message [and] with our positioning,” Peham says. “[But] staying neutral is sometimes the worst thing that happens because it means that you'll be forgotten.”
Another common mistake is when companies don't put employees at the forefront of their story, he says. A strong strategy for marketing teams is to define the best brand spokespeople, make sure they’re the type of people who live up to the brand story and enable them to tell their story to others. In this way, companies can match their story to internal culture.
Engagement Across Different Channels
Every media channel has its own form of engagement, and there have been a notable amount of new channels that have been introduced in the past 20 years, Peham says. These channels include smart watches, voice assistants and various social media channels, which coexist with traditional forms of media that people still use. While personalization is recommended as an effective strategy to get engagement, personalizing each of these channels for every audience member or audience segment takes a lot of work, Peham says. That’s why he recommends organizations focus on as few channels as possible when sharing their brand story.
“Let's focus on fewer channels but get it right, because every new channel adds complexity,” he says. “We like to talk about personalization in big ways, but at the end of the day, not a lot of businesses are truly able to keep up with that across channels.”
A brand story will also look different when it’s told by different teams for different purposes, Peham says. Whether it's the brand story that sales tells to potential clients, HR tells to potential employees or marketing tells to potential customers, there will be a slightly different angle to fit the purpose of the conversation. With this in mind, teams need to collaborate and communicate with each other so that as they spread their story across various channels per team, the core message stays consistent.
Prepare Yourself For the Future of Digital Storytelling
Effective storytelling across channels and audiences will only become more important as customers interact with brands across more digital touchpoints. An effective brand story is a significant differentiator to make your company stand out and make an impact on people. Various technologies – like headless technology that allows for simple omnichannel storytelling across channels and teams – will make it easier for businesses to thrive in this environment. Learn more in Storyblok’s recent webinar, “Shaping the Future of Digital Storytelling.”
Watch the on-demand webinar now.