14 Nov, 2017

How Is Brand Storytelling Effective In Marketing?

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Brands are constantly under pressure to deliver strong campaigns that demand an audience’s attention in order to drive online sales as well as foot traffic into stores, especially during the busy holiday season. They go to great lengths to deliver holiday experiences in-stores, with components like window displays, and decorations galore. This draws attention to the store and persuades the customer to shop.

Besides from physical campaigns, brands also pull out marketing tactics digitally, in order to reach their online audience effectively. This online audience is shopping the web to find specific products, good deals, and most of all, to be entertained.

Retailers should align their social tools and technology to the customer life cycle. Social ads and influencers help discovery. Online social tools work when customers are in the “explore” and “buy” phases, and communities and chat help when customers have questions about the product.” Digital Commerce reports. 

The fact that shoppers are online more than ever, puts marketers in a unique position to reach customers through different creative efforts. These efforts are attention-grabbing, detail oriented and as of recent, possess a type of Hollywood attribute to them:

Short Films

The name pretty much speaks for itself. A short film offers content that is too short to be a feature film, but just enough to get a message across. Normally, short films are motion pictures that are less than 40 minutes, intended to be shown at film festivals made by nonprofit or independent makers.

“Many new directors/producers choose short films so that they can be used like a business card or a resume to attract clients and investors. If you try to take on a role as director or producer, and you have no experience that can be verified, you are most likely going to be passed over for someone with a full portfolio.” Sheffieldav reports. 

Now, marketers are leveraging the idea of short films in order to integrate them into marketing campaigns. These films are formatted for social media platforms, especially YouTube. Short clips can be uploaded to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and the campaign speaks for itself.

Short films are referred to as brand storytelling by experts, mainly because the brand is letting the content of the film tell a story and send a message to the audience. It offers creative and entertaining components that give the brand an edge compared to other traditional campaigns.

The beauty behind marketers integrating short films into campaigns is that it has the power to completely depict characters, a storyline, emotions, and everything in between. It allows for marketers to work with filmmakers, actors, creative directors, and other talented people in the industry. Short films in marketing open the window of possibilities that can be found while combining two industries together, art and marketing.

So, it brings us back to the question: why are marketers relying on short films for campaigns?

Tell Your Story Better

Brands that are successful can be set a part of brands who are not, based on the stories they tell through their campaigns. If you ever wonder why some brands are more successful than others, it comes back to the notion of storytelling.

If it’s one thing that is for certain, it’s that people love stories. Major iconic brands like Coca-Cola come to mind when I say the word stories because it constantly delivers its audience with a campaign that involves an interesting (and usually) heartwarming plot, and a storyline to follow. It provokes emotion in customers, like nostalgia, that will be the deciding factor if they gravitate towards that brand or not. And considering Coca-Cola has been around for 125 years, it seems to be working just fine.

Using emotions in marketing is not a secret or surprise. Emotions can be found through the simplest campaigns, with a simple color, or a slogan. People remember how you made them feel, more than what you said. That is why storytelling helps marketers deliver brand messages successfully.

Brand Storytelling 101

To put matters in the simplest terms, brand storytelling basically refers to a brand using a message and conveying it into a story. This story can be short, long, or everything in between. The important part is that the message comes across in a clear way to your audience.

“Brand storytelling is the most effective way to connect with your audience. It involves the many types of stories you tell your audience. It’s what helps you appeal to the emotions of your customers and prospects.” Huffington Post reports. 

Telling a story as a brand does not have to revolve only around a specific campaign, such as the holiday season. It can simply be any form of a campaign used to give your audience a glimpse into what your company is all about. Your morals, your beliefs, what you really want to be portrayed to the world. Being genuine is key to conducting a strong story, because, believe it or not, people can tell when you are being fake.

The most important part about brand storytelling are the components that convince your audience to buy something, prefer your brand, share your content on social media, tell a friend, basically anything that makes an impact on your popularity and reputation. Because of this, it is meant to be thought out and executed in a clear, and concise way.

“Creating a brand story is not simply about standing out and getting noticed. It’s about building something that people care about and want to buy into.” The Story of Telling reports. 

If you are interested in telling a story through your brand, the first step is to identify which story you would like to deliver. For example, if you are a fitness brand promoting good health and an active lifestyle, it will be useful to tell a story that does not involve junk food, and your characters match the brand. Instead, it will come across ingenuine.

“The story must be compelling and often factual. While it is important to tell your own story, client narratives have the largest long-term impact on brands. The customer should be the main character, with your company serving as the supporting character that offers tools to help them create successful resolutions.” i-Scoop reports. 

The next step is deciding where you will be releasing this story. Deciding which medium matches your brand can be tricky, and it will be decided properly with the right audience in mind. Understanding your audience is key here because you can figure out what they are paying attention to. Are they on Instagram? Facebook? Twitter? Learning how to track your followers can put you in a position to understand exactly who they are, and what they are interested in.

“In order to be a good storyteller, you must listen to your audience so you can genuinely understand their desires and concerns, their beliefs and attitudes.” i-Scoop reports. 

Depending on which medium you choose, your story must be designed to meet the format of it. For example, Instagram has a 60-second video cutoff, which can be just enough time to deliver your audience a teaser for an upcoming campaign. Facebook can allow longer videos to be uploaded, such as the full clip. Whatever medium you choose will be the deciding factor of how to format the content.

Once you know what medium you want to use, you can focus on that outlet more than the others, like releasing unique campaigns that build your audience’s attention to focus on the main attraction, being a short film released on Youtube, or through adverts on the TV.

Once you figure out the simple logistics, you can then create your content. Remember to keep it short and to the point will help you succeed while delivering a message.

Brands Who Are Telling Stories in 2017

With all this talk about storytelling, it’s almost impossible to not refer to a few brands who are nailing content marketing and telling stories effectively. Luckily, I put together a short list that contains some of my favorite storylines, that have captured mine, and others, attention effectively.

H&M

Are you surprised that H&M is on this list? If not, then you may have missed its teaser for the upcoming short film that will be released staring rap star Nicki Minaj. This teaser made headlines more than once and delivered a clear message that H&M is pulling out the stops to achieve good ratings and an increased volume of holiday sales.

“To help distinguish itself in a competitive fast fashion retail category, H&M is more often leaning into cinematic content marketing that features bonafide Hollywood talent both behind and in front of the camera.” MarketingDive reports. 

Although the film is just a teaser, and the full-length version will be released on Nov. 28, the teaser is enough to make customers excited about what is to come. It is suspenseful and shows Hollywood stars, Nicki Minaj, along with Jesse Williams and John Turturro. Since everyone knows Nicki Minaj can be out there at times, it only leaves fans wondering what is next.

H&M is attempting to gain popularity back on social media and to raise sales as they are in competition with other stores like Forever 21 and Topshop.

Converse

The iconic brand, Converse, aimed to bring back the brand to the roots of youth with a short film that features young stars called “Forever Chuck” that shows Converse is the root of dreams and desires earlier this year. The purpose of the video is to show its current audience who is wearing Converse today, and how the brand has evolved, with the same mission in mind.

Converse has been a style influence for many years and having a new generation of young stars wear Converse shoes, can be effective while proving how the brand is timeless, and not outdated.

“The Chuck Taylor has been a cultural icon with a rich history and even more incredible future,” Julien Cahn, chief marketing officer at Converse, said in a statement. “Through the debut of our ‘Forever Chuck’ film, we will have officially introduced our collective of exciting people, who share our brand values and are driving the spirit of youth culture forward.” Footwear News reports.

The film depicts a clear message at hand and stays consistent with the brand’s image. Using Hollywood to promote its products is one way the film has become popular, as well as the short 60-second clip released on Instagram. Millie Bobby Brown is among the actors featured in the film, which comes at a perfect time since she is the leading star in the hit tv show, Stranger Things, which receives an abundance of press and has a large following base.

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The digital revolution has forever changed the balance of power between individual consumers and brands. This need to think “customer first” has made the marketing function more vital than ever before.

The marketing landscape is shifting, causing CMOs to change priorities and adapt the way they conduct strategies for specific brands. Aiming to deliver a brands message through innovative and creative efforts, like short films, is one example of how CMOs are straying from traditional marketing tactics and integrating digital efforts to meet an audience.

Creating a clear, concise and targeted brand message is a priority and goal for marketing professionals. It is important for brands to have a consistent message and theme when it comes to their brand, and having strong mediums to exectue this message is crucial. Marketing professionals are beginning to learn new tactics and create different approaches. It is clear that marketers are learning from one another, from one successful campaign to another.

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