Many people think that marketing and branding are about creating an image: the Nike swoosh, the McDonald’s golden arches… something simple, that your customers can instantly associate with your brand. But an image is only part of it. What really matters is the story behind the image. What do people think of when they see it? How do they perceive your brand? Does the Nike swoosh evoke thoughts of Olympic medal winners, or children in third world country sweat shops sewing soccer balls? Do the golden arches make you think of food that’s fast, easy, and delicious, or greasy and fattening?
That’s why brand storytelling is so important. It lets you provide people with a more in-depth view of who you are and what you do. If you can control your brand’s story, you can make sure the image people have when they think of you is a positive one. Here are some ways to boost engagement with storytelling.
Create Branded Content
A commercial tells people what you’re selling and why they should buy it. But it doesn’t really tell them who you are or what makes you worth listening to. That’s where branded content comes in. It helps your brand develop a personality apart from simple sales.
A blog, for instance, could provide your audience with regular, helpful tips for solving problems in your field. If you have, say, an air conditioning company, you could blog about features to look for the next time you buy a new A/C, how to save energy while still keeping your house cool, what to do if your system breaks down, etc. It goes beyond the simple, “Call us and we’ll help you out,” and instead establishes you as an expert in the field, giving them a reason to trust you. That way, when they DO need to call someone for air conditioning repairs, your brand’s story will be cemented in their minds, and you’ll be the one they call.
There are plenty of other types of branded content you can create as well, and all sorts of brand storytelling methods you can use in each one. Videos can show a glimpse behind the scenes of how your company works and what you do. A podcast can do in-depth interviews with trusted people in your field, and start a conversation about issues that your audience will care about. Every piece of content you release is helping to tell your brand’s story one way or another.
Engage Your Audience on Social Media
Social media is a great way to give your audience a real look at who your brand is and what you stand for. Everything you post, whether it’s links to your own content, or content you’ve found online and want to share, says something about who you are and what’s important to you.
If people like your content, they’ll follow your page, giving you a direct line of communication into their lives. Your posts will show up in their newsfeeds alongside those of their friends and family and people they trust. So now, by association, they can start to see your content as trusted as well, and your brand as a friend.
You can also engage with your followers directly on social media. Encourage people to leave comments on your Facebook posts, to Like your YouTube videos and subscribe to your channel, and to Favorite and Retweet your posts on Twitter. You can then personally respond to the feedback they give. They may also contact you directly on social media, to ask a question or complain about an issue they’re having. This gives you an opportunity to answer them and help them out. Then suddenly, you’re not just a faceless brand. You’re a real person, who really cares about them and their needs. And those interactions become part of your brand’s story as well.
Brand storytelling is a great way of engaging your customers and showing them just what you’re all about. Your brand’s story is what people will immediately think of when they see your name or your logo. And it’s made up of their experiences engaging with your brand. They’ll then carry that story with them, and perhaps even pass on parts of it to others. So what story is your brand telling?