But just as we engage with an anecdote, novel, television series or poem, we actively engage when a business tells a good story. In a world of generic marketing copy, stories can be what really separate your voice from the low hum of a crowd.
Storytelling helps you to connect emotionally with your audiences. This emotion is the reason that heartwarming tales are such a key feature of Christmas advertising. A good narrative taps into things we already believe and care about, encouraging us to engage with a concept far more than we normally would with a sales pitch. After all, storytelling is something we all do on a daily – or even hourly – basis, often without realising.
Our imaginations are a fundamental part of how we as humans process, relate to and share information. It makes sense, therefore, that a story sticks in our minds far longer than a mission statement or handful of facts. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that content marketing has experienced such an increase in popularity over the last three years. Marketers are cottoning on to the immense power of good content.
In honour of National Storytelling Week, we’ve chosen five companies that really harness the power of storytelling.
The RNLI champions its many heroes (the crews, lifeguards and volunteers that make up the charity) while also positioning itself as a hero in its own right. Stories are woven through every aspect of its website, from the more overt ‘survivor stories’ to accounts of where money is spent. Perhaps the most chilling – but most impactful – story is found on the offshoot Respect the Water campaign site. Here you’re placed at the centre of your very own narrative after being thrown into the water and forced to respond quickly. Will you survive?
This Cornish company has achieved massive success beyond the Duchy, with shops as far north as Morpeth near Newcastle. As the brand has grown, Seasalt has retained its laid-back, friendly personality. This is partly thanks to the ever-present emphasis on people and place within marketing. Rather than focusing purely inwards, the Seasalt Life section of the company’s website features stories of its models (the ‘Seasalt Families’), pattern inspirations, print production and brand heritage.
The folk at Origin put enormous effort into the finer details of making coffee. And that’s not surprising – just take a sip of the end result and you can certainly tell. In the absence of a steaming cup on your desk, you can also tell from the stories contained within their website. Here you’ll find narratives outlining every stage of the production process, from growth and sourcing to roasting. As they say themselves, ‘The stories behind each cup stretch across continents and through generations of expertise. It’s our responsibility to share those stories with the drinker.’
Not all storytelling takes place over several paragraphs. Social media is a fantastic forum for short stories, offering an easy connection between brands and consumers. Airbnb is hugely popular on Instagram, where stunning location photography is accompanied by short, imaginative captions. Users in their thousands engage with these mini stories, and the industry agrees on their impact: the brand won ‘Best overall Instagram presence’ in the 2016 Shorty Awards.
Tampa International Airport
As well as providing a platform for content campaigns, social media also allows brands to make the most of great stories as they happen. Tampa International Airport did just this when a young passenger lost his precious stuffed tiger, Hobbes, in its play area. After finding Hobbes, a staff member took the toy on a behind the scenes adventure during his lunch break before having a photo book printed for the boy’s return. Posting the images on Facebook and Twitter, the airport received a wave of feedback, with past customers even offering their own memories of its impressive customer service. It’s stories like these that show the human side of potentially faceless companies – and audiences love them.
If you’d like help telling your brand’s stories, get in touch on 01736 758600.