The Real Story behind Brand Storytelling (Part 3: HEARTFELT Elements)

Few would debate the success that stories have on legendary brands. According to Seth Godin: Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” 

From Disney to Apple, Coca Cola and Chipotle, we have seen the power of storytelling in providing emotional connections that supersede the best of any product facts and figures.  But how can entrepreneurs adopt stories that have real traction?

From Part 1, we found that storytelling lives up to its hype as a competitive advantage in the growing clutter of content overload. It creates a lasting emotional bond with fans by permitting a brand’s personality to shine through the eyes of the audience. And by connecting emotionally, stories are more easily remembered and shared than value propositions. Much of this is the result of a new consumer seeking ways to connect to “what brands stand for.”

Part 2 pointed out the effective ways brands have developed stories that truly strike an emotional chord. 

In this latest part, we explore the elements of storytelling that entrepreneurs should consider in designing their own content strategies.

Design H-E-A-R-T-F-E-L-T Stories

Common to stories cited in the brand and content marketing field is a narrative that inspires audiences to consider a change in their behaviors.  And although the emotions elicited by the best of brand stories vary widely, the elements of HEARTFELT storytelling are fairly consistent. 

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Heroes, Villains, Mentors and Moral

Common to the effective brand stories shared in Part 2 are the story characters that permit a dramatic narrative. For a story to be relatable, it should feature your customers as heroes cast against villains standing in their way of living a better life.

Chipotle’s campaigns casts a scarecrow as a superhero that represents socially responsible and healthy eaters. The hero is up against greedy farmers seeking to exploit hormone injected cows. In their fight against these villains, Buck Marshall of the Industrial Food Image Bureau, invites us on his crusade against harmful farming practices.

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Chipotle’s Hero Struggles Against Greedy Farmers

As the protagonist in Farmed and Dangerous, Buck exposes the criminality of farming with scenes of exploding cows. But like most great stories, he serves as a mentor guiding us through a “hero journey” toward “cultivating a better world.” Without these roles, the story follower has little involvement in a promising outcome. This is why brand stories are better left with audiences driving their own conclusions than brands “telling” them what to do.

Episodes of Themed Micro-Content

Weaving stories into content is much like casting a TV series over a season of episodes. Most TV narratives have an overarching theme played out in part by each episode. But much like each series episode, you can’t convey an entire story in each piece of content you post.

Great stories adopt themes that are consistently applied to each episode. In Geico’s caveman series, a theme of “easiness” was played out in the form of “disrespected cretins.” Each episode featured one more bout of disrespect. The same episodic style should apply to any micro-content (e.g., blogs, ebooks, etc.) covered under the banner of a brand story. Each episode should stand on its own merits while supporting an overarching moral to or changed life experience from the entire story.

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Geico’s Episodes Carried a Common Theme

Affirmative Value for an Audience’s Life Choices

Filmmaker Andrew Stanton attributes our love for stories to their affirmative value. He claims that an effective story is one where the audience sees the storylines and characters as similar to their own. This connection not only creates a bond of shared values, it validates the reader’s own life choices. 

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More than just a checklist of buying criteria, stories we like should have real meaning to the point that it actually shapes an audience’s perception of value.  In effect, the story connects to an audience’s own narrative. It is at this point that the storyteller has an opportunity to persuade the audience with its brand ideas.

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Relevance to Audience Needs

But to truly understand an audience’s own narrative, the story itself has to be relevant to something the audience needs. Without this, the story merely becomes an episode of entertainment. It’s when a story makes sense to other people’s lives that it gains real traction. This can often be done by relating with your audience how your company overcame a similar challenge facing the audience.

Consider how Apple’s and Virgin’s story of reaching beyond the norm resonates with independent thinkers who thrive on raising the bar. Much of the success in attracting their followers has to do with Steve Job’s and Richard Branson’s penchant for overcoming odds. Similarly, Ree Drummond likely attracted millions of women to her Pioneer Women blog that shared her desire to escape their hectic and complex urban lives.

Trusted Source

A fundamental tenet of any great brand story relates to its influence on audiences to trust the story teller. Creative brand strategist, Mark Di Somma, perhaps said it best:  

“…The story has to come from a credible source – buyers need to know the storyteller can be trusted. Your story needs to be consistent with the receiver’s understanding of you because the person telling the story is in a position of trust. They have control of the narrative. To me, this is the make or break of storytelling. If we don’t believe the storyteller, we’ll never believe the story. Southwest Airlines have been telling a wacky story about loving to fly for decades. They absolutely walk the talk…”

-          Mark Di Somma

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Familiar Story Arc and Brand Connection

At the heart of every great story is a narrative arc that includes a beginning, a middle and an end. Normally obstacles are placed in the path of the hero so as to advance the story across episodes of adversity. Where brands can especially capitalize on this story arc format is in their Origin Story. Part 2 demonstrated a number of stories where entrepreneurs overcome adversity in their early stages of growth or during a turnaround.

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Origin, Product and Customer Stories

The same portrayal of struggles can be harvested in customer stories that highlight the worries facing customers. In the case of product stories, this adversity presents an opportunity for the brand storyteller to bleed the pain of their audience. 

Key to any effective brand story is its tie to the brand message. Duracell’s video of NFL player Derrick Coleman’s struggle with hearing  tied very well to the battery company’s “Trust Your Power” theme. 

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Duracell’s Trust Your Power Story Ties Well With Brand Intentions

Finally, great stories require a meaningful purpose often translated into a “moral of the story.” Chipotle unfolded a story of greed and animal abuse in the context of farming for cheaper food. But in the end, audiences are easily convinced that organic farming and sustainability pays off.

Emotional Content to Inspire Action

What separates a business story from the facts and figures associated with brand’s product promises is its ability to tap into an audience’s beliefs, passions, sympathies or sentiments. And evidence shows that this type of connection has greater impact on both brand awareness and loyalty.

Brand Stories

Great Stories Inspire Action

“…When you tell a great story, people connect with you emotionally and want to get to know you. You become likeable…”

-          Dave Kerpan

But the key to making this emotional connection is first recognizing that audiences want to connect with something important or of a higher purpose.  If a brand’s story can accomplish this, audiences can be “inspired to act” as opposed to “convincing them to act” from product or service claims.

Language of the Audience’s Story

“…To make a connection with customers and prospects online we need to tell stories that build empathy, create curiosity, evoke emotions and establish a sense of community…”

-          John Gregory Olson

The right story has to be the audience’s story. Common to the narratives highlighted in Part 2 of this series is a storyline that speaks the language of the audience. In effect, the story empathizes with the audience’s situation to a point where audiences see themselves in the story. A great example of this is the Story of Kate offered by Sprint Small Business Solutions.

Transform Audiences into Wiser People

Like any story, an objective of a brand story is to shape audience decisions and change their behaviors through a series of episodes. An effective story arc essentially sets the stage for meeting an unmet desire of the audience with a product that transforms their lives.

And to do this effectively, the hero must face numerous setbacks as their journey plays out. Story arcs typically advance the hero from a low point to the removal of obstacles in their path. If handled effectively, the hero gets transformed into a wiser creature as they triumphantly face adversity.

 “…The end of a narrative arc is the denouement. It shows what happens as a result of all the conflict that the characters have gone through…”

-          Author Jenna Blum, The Author at Work, 2013

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So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

93 thoughts on “The Real Story behind Brand Storytelling (Part 3: HEARTFELT Elements)

  1. I think that another effective element in brand story content strategy is having things that are out of the ordinary or fantasy. An example could be the talking babies with the e*trade commercials. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBeifDkdijM These commercials are humors and full of fantasy. Most people are tired of watching the same things so when it’s a bit different it catches everyone’s attention. I also agree with Seth Godin’s stating that Marketing is more about the story than about the actual product. It is important to have a meaning behind anything you do, the Budweiser commercials that I absolutely love, for example there meaning is always friendship. Budweiser has those commercials because in the message it sends out a meaning that when you drink Budweiser you become closer with your friends. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1hlGlFuWRc

    It is also important to stay current and Budweiser has done an exceptional job in doing so this Memorial Day weekend I saw this one. still charged with a lot of emotion

  2. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    Seth Godin’s quote stating that “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell” couldn’t be any more accurate. Another element of brand story telling that I find to be effective and a great way to catch your audience’s attention is by relating to something that is currently happening or trending. When you add comedy into what is trending, you can catch the audience’s attention even more.

  3. Another element that I feel is effective in content strategies is showing progression/results of real participants. For instance, with workout videos such as Insanity, P90X etc, when consumers see an average person just like themselves reach maximum fitness levels from the use of a 60-90 Day program, they get inspired to give it a try. This strategy humanizes what, to some, seems like an impossible feat and gives them the glimmer of hope necessary to take the last step. Consumers are always looking to see how a product can improve their personal situation. Proof of success is a definite way to illustrate that to customers.

  4. Other elements found in brand story that are effective in content strategies are being entertaining (funny) and at the same time simple. I think being funny is one of the best ways to catch an audience’s attention. Even in serious and tense times sometimes it’s good idea to just to relax and have some fun. For example, take this commercial the “Pepsi Max- Interview,” http://bit.ly/1nTsHdk which shows the tense moment of a job interview and makes it humorous and with and additional creative twist. I believe many people can relate to this video, since at one point in one’s lifetime one has to go through a job interview. This video is silly, but it does it job and even touches on the concept of friendship. Overall, emotions are the easiest and simplest way to connect to any audience. Therefore, exploring this key element can definitely help many brands succeed in storytelling and in their future business’s activities.

  5. I completely agree with Seth Godin’s statement, Marketing Is more about the story than about the actual product. You can have the best product ever but if you don’t know how to communicate it and do not reach and create an impact in your audience and potential customers, it may never be a success nowadays, there are too many products available in this noisy environment.
    I believe that one of the most effective elements of a story content strategy is that one that inspires and motivate the audience.. people tend to resonate with those stories that invites them to be better and to push themselves to success. That positive feeling is a strong influence when recalling and spreading the voice about a brand.

  6. Love the quote from Seth Godin “Marketing is no longer the stuff you make, but the stories you tell”
    Storytelling connects you emotionally to all brands. If a brand can tap into each individual pain points and needs – giving them knowledge that there is a solution or they are not alone in that experience, will stir the human heart. Story telling starts at the top of the funnel and take them to the bottom of the funnel seamlessly. Storytelling is entertainment , informational, educational and selling all in a 3-5 segment. Look at companies like Publix, Apple and Coca Cola. I especially like the one from Apple “ what will be your verse” It isn’t about the iPad, but what the user can accomplish by using it and how to leave their mark. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiyIcz7wUH0

  7. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    Content strategy is important very important in marketing because that is what is conveyed to the consumer. You can have as much encouragement in a video as you want, but if the content is not targeted with the right strategy, then it wont convey the right information for your brand. Then there is a story, but not necessarily a brand story. A hybrid of these elements, when appropriate for your brand, could have huge impacts on your brand storytelling.
    I guess this goes hand in hand with trust, but I find when experts or famous people are introduced into advertisements, It makes people connect and feel the product is trustworthy. Therefore, I think this is a technique that is an extremely important one for certain brands. For Jenny Craig, we have many celebrities that stand by that diet. They are part of their brand, therefore, it makes them part of the brand story.

  8. The most effective techniques of brand story telling are taking your audience on a journey and then making a call to action. In addition, another technique that companies should use is admitting their flaws and transparency. Consumers are able to identify with the companies’ faults and will view the organization as a whole as trusty worthy and honest. This strategy worked well for Domino’s Pizza in turning their brand image around. In addition, this also shocks the audience, as many companies would be unwilling to utilize this technique. Not only is it important for companies to admit their flaws but in addition to highlight their success.

    Williams, D. (2013)Find the Heart of Your Brand Storytelling with These 6 Questions. Content Marketing Institute. http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2013/06/heart-of-brand-storytelling-6-questions/

  9. I believe that Music is an important element in storytelling. Nothing gives me more goosebumps or gets me more excited than the music that is played to the scene. Depending on what your trying to get the audience to feel, you can have loud, upbeat music; powerful and moving music; sad and serenading music; or even no music at all. But it can greatly impact how your audience feels as they watch your story.

    Here are some ideas I found on “Using Music to Create Emotion in Video Commercial Advertisement”:
    1. Entertainment – good music makes a video advertisement more attractive, therefore engaging the audience’s attention.
    2. Structure/Continuity – music effectively builds up the advertisement’s story in just a matter of thirty seconds.
    3. Memorability – music increases recall of a product’s or company’s name because music lingers in the mind as opposed to a simple voiceover.
    4. Lyrical Language – it conveys a message in a non-spoken way, as logical language is actually less powerful than the emotional and poetic language found in vocal music.
    5. Targeting – music makes sure that messages are directed to the advertisers’ particular target audience, eliminating wasted & misdirected messages.
    6. Authority Establishment – music enhances the video advertisement’s credibility because it creates a genuine appeal to its audience.

    Link: http://castlewoodstudios.com/marketing/articles/using-music-to-create-emotion-in-video/

    1. Marie I agree, music is very important and I don’t believe no one has mention this jet but a video with out music does not make you feel anything.

    2. Marie I agree, music is very important and I don’t believe no one has mention this jet, but a video with out music does not make you feel anything.

  10. There are many elements that need to be incorporated into a brand story for it to be effective. However, I do also believe that which elements are used depends on the industry, the brand, the target audience etc. I’ve always found humor to be an effective way to reach a mass consumer audience. After all, who doesn’t like to laugh? Not to mention laughing and smiling creates a good feeling in the inside within us. On the other hand sometimes the best way to get an audience to remember you and become engaged is heartfelt “awwww” moments. At the moment myself along with four others are working on a branding framework project for a local agency. Our focus is how businesses are built into brands. Throughout our research studies we continually keep finding that content marketing is the best way in our age of technology to reach consumers.

  11. Trend

    Another element of a brand story that I find effective to my content strategies is making sure that the content matches the trend that the viewers’ lives are going through at the time the advertisement airs. This could be a new norm that has recently picked up or the various ways in which the product is able to conform to certain character traits that are common to the viewers. When targeting a certain market, the content needs to carefully study this market and find out something that separates it from the rest. This could be their unique taste in fashion, behavioral characteristics and preferences for certain societal orientations among others.

    Everyone wants to feel special in a world fragmented with different styles of approach towards different thing. They all act accordingly for various reasons, some of which include the urge to stand out from the crowd, to blend into a certain group or to maintain their own style. Overall, they often tend to have something in common that brings them together. This thing may be either obvious to the crowd, or invisible, but present. Therefore, it is up to the developer to point this out and find a way to relate it to the product.

    The thing about trend is that it is normally periodical, which means like fashion, it is often soon replaced by another trend that takes it place. As such, the company would have to either keep up with this trend or identify something that seldom changes with the change of trend and specialize on associating it with their products in their awareness programs.

  12. For the most part yes, I do buy into this trend towards storytelling. However, whether or not it creates a new wave of content saturation is another issue. Storytelling provides brands the opportunity to relay more viable information and brand history vs. blasted information and forced selling tack-tics. For brands and companies alike, the more genuine, humanistic and consumer oriented you appear to be has proven to be a valiant way of attracting consumers. The age of blasting brand information, pitching sales tactics or telling consumers what to do, is over due to consumer power. In todays hyper-competitive market and globalization, brands and companies are easily lost in the word of information and content overload. Realizing this brands and companies have embarked upon a new wave of storytelling to gain customer loyalty. Through this new wave strategy, brand and companies will be able to tap in to consumers beliefs, wants, and desires, without being imposing or pushy. However, looking towards the future if each and every brand adapts this strategy consumers will be inundated with content stories and they will soon lose their value. While storytelling techniques are an effective way of striking an emotional cord with consumers, so is humanitarianism and philanthropy. An example of this being Toms, they have built their brand through telling the story of philanthropy.The shoe company, offers to donate a pair of shoes for every pair purchased. Consumers of Toms buy in to their brand story, and are also engaged through the company’s philosophy which in turn has gained traction and following. Other elements of brand stories which have proven to be effective in content strategies include consumer led story telling and co-creation of story telling.

  13. Themed micro-content is one of the most effective content strategies with me as a consumer. In the case of Flo, The Geico Caveman and the AFLAC duck I am intruiged by the next situation that will create either an offense/slight to the caveman, an opportunity for Flo to do her main street small town sarcasm thing or to see how the duck survives. An additional technique or element that I think adds value would be the use of the unexpected twist. I believe that a story that ends in a manner that could not be predicted by the initial arc is riveting. Knowing that in each “episode” the way something starts does not determine the way it ends (regarding content and context) would keep me interested in additional installations and help develop a connection between the brand and myself.

  14. An element I find effective in content strategy is socially responsibility. In today’s market we starting to see a big trend in people looking for socially responsible companies. They want to support companies that are supporting their environment and the world they live in . A good example of this is Ben & Jerry’s and Tom’s. These are two companies that have attracted people by their great quality in products and social responsibility.

  15. I’m still processing in my mind how strong and certain Seth Godin sentence is “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell”. Even before knowing the theory of HEARTFELT storytelling as a marketer I already finding patterns on how my targets reacted to different elements now presented and scholarly explained on this scheme. Therefore, by experience I can say that sometimes combining HEARTFELT elements or even single ones will be affective when previously studied and well thought for the specific target persona you want to communicate to and of course, when the message is shipped in the right way media and communication vehicle to reach that persona type. The same product / brand / company campaign can be restructured and message adapted in different ways with one or combined HEARTFELT elements to call immediate attention and generate brand awareness and recall to whom we are aiming to. What’s relevant for one persona might not be for the other, but with specific messages for each persona we guarantee to capture them all on their own personal way, constructing then super effective contents that will make customers feel we are talking one-to-one to them.

  16. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?
    When I think of an effective brand story, I think back and realize that every commercial or story I have seen and remembered has always had something I could relate to or has touched me emotionally in some way, whether it was funny, sad, educational, or surprising. I can also say that I am that customer that will share the link of the specific story with all of my friends on my social network. By sharing these stories with my friends, I felt I was able to bond with them, and we would have something to talk about, or laugh about. It’s these stories that create a memorable moment not only when you first watch it, but when they are shared with others who think and feel the same way as you. I believe that when a company has been able to create a story that can touch millions of people, then it will build a trust with its customers stronger than any promotional ad can ever do. With that said, I agree with Seth Godin’s comment: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

  17. A very important element that marketers should take into account when developing this strategy is choosing the correct cast for the story. Brands have personality and the people, animals or elements that appear on the story should go according to this personality.
    If companies decide to use celebrities in their pieces, they have to be very careful, because the reputation this person has might distort the perception people have about the brand. The piece can have the perfect storyline and quality, but with the wrong cast, it will send the wrong message and create the wrong emotions.
    For example, we will never see Marilyn Manson in a Dove Commercial (I hope so).

  18. In my opinion as I stated in part II I feel as though getting into the mind of your consumers and audiences and showing them more than what they hear or observe is one if the most effective way to solidify your brand story. Consumers and audiences all like to hear and see where and when the elements to the company or business were spawned. A lot of companies and business today are using this structure to create awareness to there brand in different ways, and from that standpoint goes to show that is definitely working to stair or changes the audiences or consumers perception. As I also stated previously companies need to make there story line beyond just visual but emotional. It needs to be able to grasp the consumer and stair them in the direction that u want them to go, whether that may be to your website or to donate to a cause or simply to but a product. Apart from it being emotional. The producers of the content need to be certain that it isn’t overwhelming or feel un true. That would directly make the content useless because it seems to far fetch. Once these keys ideas are placed into the right structure companies or business can create a powerhouse for advertisement without the consumer or audience even realizing how and what they just got sucked into.

  19. Creating an effective an effective brand story as part of your content strategy is not so dependent on what elements you use but how you use them. I think all elements of a brand story mentioned are extremely effective but when they are combined, they not only are more effective but can reach a greater audience. Let’s not forget that while combining elements increases effectiveness, simplicity is key so that they actually message and brand are not lost in translation. For example, combining the element of emotional content to inspire action with familiar story arc and brand connection and trusted source, such as using Steve Jobs for an Apple commercial (familiar story inspiring action from a trusted source) combines three elements in a way that makes the brand story more powerful and more effective, while keeping it simple and genuine. I think using a content strategy that combines elements of storytelling is was makes the brand story the most effective.

  20. I agree with Seth Godin’s comment: “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Unfortunately, consumers are more interested in the funny ads, bright colors, offensive humor, and societal disruptions than the actual product or service. Companies know that they must grab the consumers’ attention and keep it which is even harder. I like watching ads that have episodes of themed micro-content similar to the Progressive commercials with Flo because they keep a theme that I can recognize time after time. However, keeping the same theme after a long period of time allows room for viewers to get somewhat bored with the company.

    I believe using “trusted” sources can be beneficial as well. They develop the same interest as watching a movie that is “based on a true story.” The thing with this is, you never know who is an actor and who is telling the truth.

    1. Definitely each one of the nine heartfelt elements is effectives nowadays and need it to attract the attention and emotion of the audience. In marketing we need to create the need to the customers for them to feel engage, attract and confortable with our brand, service or company. This new strategy of storytelling makes the marketing strategy more attractive, secure and also helps the brand to connect with the people. Its awesome how the audience can identify their self when they see a celebrity using or supporting a brand or product, this give a felling of confidence that its hard to build by itself. The trusted source I think that its one of the most important part of the story teller, build that sentiment of trust to the audience its hard nowadays, but after the company build that trust in the audience, that comes with loyal and after that its hard to loose that client.
      The emotional content inspired, that’s as well when the audience gets that connection, their passion, belief and empathy for our product.

      This type of strategy its great for companies, gives the opportunity to build a closer relationship with the audience receiving their sympathies and sentiments.

  21. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    In content strategy think having a combination of different elements works the best. By using more than one technique a commercial or marketing strategy can reach more people. Strategies that touch their audience on different levels work the best. For example, a commercial that tells a funny and sentimental story will grab more attention than just one that only has one part of it. Like starting off at an engagement or wedding (that will automatically draw the attention of women) then something funny happens to the groom (that will get the attention of men) and then it ends out that everything works out in a happy loving way. This reaches the people in many differ levels. Then if you add a child and a grandparent and you can reach even more people. Another strategy that helps is if the company has a good relationship with the community and if they try to be socially responsible. More and more the public is beginning to question where and how large companies are doing business. By having good polices in place that the public is aware of only helps a business in the long run.

  22. Having genuine content that is memorable and spreads easily is important to creating a brand story. If the story that the brand is creating is one that is too complex or that has too many selling points, the audience can easily get lost and become disinterested in the brand as the key selling point was missed. Utilizing another brand’s story as a template for your own brand can also have you coming off looking like the brand you are mimicking instead of looking genuine or telling your own story in a memorable way. There is not a one size fits all template to creating marketing strategy and I feel the most effective strategy for a brand would be the strategy that helps to communicate its story in a genuine and memorable way that it creates so much enthusiasm amongst the target audience that they will tell others.

  23. I feel that Transforming Audiences into Wiser People is one of the most effective elements of a brand story that can be used. Wal-Mart has done this exceptionally well with their most recent commercials. For some time now, Wal-Mart has had a bad reputation, but they have been working to turn that around. Making your audience wiser to what your brand/company is working on, is a great way to improve your brand image and change your customer’s perception.

  24. If you stop for a minute and just think of every storytelling video you have seen and the elements of the brand story you will realize that most of them attract you because you can relate. It may also attract your attention because the story may be about something that you feel strongly about. Another element that I think is similar to something that has already been mentioned is what I would call “painting a picture”. For example, the Chobani farmland commercial is a storytelling commercial. It tells the story of Chobani using natural products and showing a simplified example of how other yogurts use artificial flavored.

    Chobani commercial – http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=JYNixAs5HLQ

  25. Other elements of a brand story besides those mentioned in the blog that can be very effective in content strategies are good causes and right words. A good example is this Solvil et Titus watch commercial portraying marriage contract renewals in a SE Asian country. The cause is love and marriage related and the heartfelt familiar words “I do” are spoken repeatedly by couples yearly because of local laws (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHloOCnzXVs ). Another good cause example is a commercial by a pro family organization which promotes love, strong family bonding, and good values and character building for the next generation to follow (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgLP5wlA2KI ). Other right words can be clichés, familiar sayings, proverbs, and truths, as well as encouraging and inspiring words (or words of wisdom). Examples include “Just say no!” in the campaign against drugs, and the “Yes we can!” phrase, which Obama used in one of his speeches. Several businesses picked up on Obama’s words and used them in their commercials to promote their products. These companies include Chrysler Jeep Dodge, a dental center, and a satellite company (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dsotn05umoQ
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD6wzflHQFg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxznEX4xulI ).

  26. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    The above elements were all great for usage in content strategies. I do not have a particular element that was not mentioned that I find effective, but I would like to elaborate on the Trusted source element. To me, this element, as the article mentioned is make it or break it. The audience has to trust the source, this should be the beginning of all content strategies. Everything else from this foundation will be deemed as effective once the audience resignates that the information preceding is not untruthful or deceiving. The consumer will then listen with open ears and an open mind because the trust is there. So, this is the most effective element in my content strategy.

  27. I think that the trend towards storytelling is here to stay. As humans we are hardwired to learn through stories. The use of stories allows us to extrapolate more information than the pure facts that are presented in the story. Stories allow the receiver to quickly run the information through their filter of experiences while at some level being entertained. These days, consumers are bombarded with information at all times throughout their day. This information overload is what Ekaterina Walter calls “infobesity.” She advocates telling stories through images to help the viewer process a lot of information quickly. I agree that storytelling through images accomplishes this but I also think that telling stories in other ways also accomplishes efficient processing of information. I also believe that storytelling is a skill that has to be honed. Brands that are using it as a tactic but not fully internalizing the human aspect of it will see very little success with it. As more and more brands use storytelling, only the ones that are able to get outside of the traditional value proposition will be able to continue using it.

    In part 2 of this blog series there was a list of types of posts that portray the heartfelt moments. I agree that all of these are great ways to accomplish the goal. On a larger scale I think brands can accomplish high engagement by telling their audience what their “why” is. Telling them what the company’s higher purpose is. Simon Sinek talks about this concept in his book “Start With Why.” Once a brand has defined their “why” or purpose, they can reach their audience by telling them the story behind it. Once a company is armed with this information, they can use it as the common theme they use in their storytelling efforts. As long as the brand is able be genuine and match the content with the context of the platform that they are presenting it on, they will be extremely successful using storytelling.

    Going off of Simon Sinek’s concept of the “golden circle” once the brand has defined their “why”, they can move toward their “how” and “what.” In his book he is discussing this from the point of view of running the company, but I think it directly applies to how a brand tells its story. Once they have the purpose to use as a common theme, they can tell stories about how they do what they do and what specifically it is that they do. As long as the purpose of their existence is the underling theme, the story will be genuine and widely accepted.

  28. Another element I find to be effective would be that the storyline is actually feasible. I don’t think the stories should always be over the top. Companies need to ensure that the story they are telling is actually attainable and that viewers are not watching and saying, “yeah right” or “that could never happen.” Viewers might feel they are being fed a lie and get discouraged by the brand. This can go hand in hand with Trusted Source and Language of the Audience mentioned in the blog.

  29. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    Picking a strategy that really hones into reality is an effective storytelling method. The best example is what Dove has been able to achieve. Their messaging has completely shifted over the past few years and they now focus on empowering women and exposing the truth. Through the use of their Real Beauty campaigns like: Sketch Artist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE and Evolution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hibyAJOSW8U , the issue of how society, and women especially, perceive beauty and their own beauty is completely exposed. Highlighting the truth and showcasing this issue really allows the audience to identify with the brand and see the brand as a respectable and trustworthy company that is serving a purpose of educating and providing the means for empowerment. The campaign is a powerful statement that hits close to home to a large audience. Showcasing the truth of society’s perceptions through the use of a storytelling campaign is an effective method of capturing an audience and delivering a message to its intended target market.

  30. Another element that I find important is the element of Taking a Stand. Heroes and emotional connections go along with this element, but I think Taking a Stand is an element that stands on its own as important.

    As I mentioned in my response to Part 2, Honey Maid released a commercial in response to negative feedback that they received after releasing a commercial campaign featuring interracial, gay and single parent families. They received a lot of negative feedback from their stance on what actually makes a family a family, but they did not back down after receiving the negativity. They actually took it and turned it into a positive message. They took a stand and stood behind their message that love is love, no matter what form it comes in. They did not back down when they received backlash. Another example is the Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial couple and their daughter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYofm5d5Xdw Even after a lot of backlash, Cheerios did not back down and did not pull the commercial. They stood behind their message and continued to air the commercial whereas many companies would have pulled it to please the masses.

    Another example of Taking a Stand is this commercial from Vanity and Co: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RStzzbPsCOI The commercial features slice-of-life storytelling in the lives of women from different cultures as they groom themselves and ends with a message that it’s time to rethink how we empower women. Vanity and Co is Taking a Stand in support of women’s empowerment.

    When brands take a stand they are taking a risk. They may not be appealing to everyone and they may lose consumers that once supported them. However, I think it is important for a brand to stick by their roots and let consumers know that they will not change just because a group of consumers are not happy with what they are doing. As a consumer, I like to know that the brands I like and support also supports the things in my life that are important. It’s important to know that my money is going to a company that will not end up giving my money away to a cause that opposes my personal beliefs.

  31. In my content strategies, I believe that a good part of the brand story has a lot to do with the people within the company. The “people behind the brand,” those who make decisions and get the work done. I have found that photos and videos featuring familiar faces and employee stories have been really effective. They provide a way for fans and followers to get a behind the scenes look at what a great company you truly are. By highlighting your employees you are not only telling an important part of your brand story, but you are showing your audience a more powerful message by giving them insight into your company and that you appreciate your employees. I find that the content that we curate around our employees most times has higher engagement because people resonate well and connect emotionally. The image most times features a moment in time that the company is proud of, proud of those people or person in the photo. This is then shared with our fans and followers to celebrate this proud moment. Everyone at a company has a piece of a brand story. Their stories all contribute to the company’s brand story. Showing things that a company does for the community also helps tell a brand story. Social media is a great way of telling a brand story visually and it has proven to be very effective for brands.

  32. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?
    Another element of a brand story that I find effective in content strategies are quizzes or questions that engage the reader. When a company creates a story that is strong enough to motivate their consumers, it becomes very powerful. I think can be an effective brand storytelling technique. When showing commercials like the don’t text and drive, triggers an emotion in people because it gives them a warning as to what can happen. This makes the target market embrace the brand much easier and through incorporating the other elements. These motivational factors evoke positive feelings within the consumer through storytelling that will build relationships and a positive image of the company and product.

  33. Chipotle hits the nail on the head with their Scarecrow commercials. The element that I find most striking or emotion evoking is at the end of the commercial you are left thinking…hmmm, I never really thought about where what I am eating comes from. This element I will call…Mind –Altering or Thought provoking. When a commercial evokes thought, whether in episode form, whether or not a hero is present, whether or not it speaks the language of the audience, it causes the viewer to questions their own values in such a way that the brand has the potential to become a trusted source for information. This trust is built on a message or story that is relevant to the viewers’ lives and it initiates an emotional connection between viewer and brand.

  34. Storytelling is definitely a trend that will continue in mainstream. We live in a era where consumers want interaction from brands. Companies that combine the importance of the bottom line with the commitment to engage consumers tend to see better results. Right now companies are seeking new ways to reach consumers and by striking an emotional chord the consumer feels a connection beyond spending money. Personally, I can say I support companies that support similar causes and organizations that I support and it is a trend that will continue to grow. With that said, like other strategies it will become saturated as competition picks up and buys in to this trend. Will it be short-lived? While I do believe it will eventually become saturated I think it will happen at a slow pace. Keeping content fresh will be key, but like business in general there are copycats and the use of this technique will be no different. The mentioned techniques re great but being able to provide consumers with stories they can relate to is a key component in my opinion. The stories need not be so outrageous that they are unbelievable, nor so simple that consumers will not care and simply ignore. By connecting with consumers on issues they can relate to companies have a better chance of reaching desired audiences.

  35. Keeping it real. I really love the strategy Dove came out with for the Real Woman campaign. They use real women not models to show the consumer we are all beautiful in our own skin. Dove is sending a powerful message that Beauty is more than skin deep. Their commercials are relate-able, inspiring and build brand trust. Entrepreneurs can use a similar strategy to build a customer base and gain their loyalty.

  36. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    Another element that I would stress to be effective in a brand story is the use of testimonials. I think that using such a strategy always customers who are not confident in the brand to become so. It also allows those who are not customers, to consider it. Testimonies not only connect with people emotionally to where they relate, but it also builds confidence in the individual to know that there is a way. I love to keep relating to Chrysler and how they have been recently building their brand around the context of “hard work”. Not only are they speaking about themselves to say how they overcame obstacles as a brand, but they are also looking to connect with consumers to let us know that if it worked for them, it can work for us as well. It also builds the understanding that there would be a commitment from the brand to serve customers, because it’s what keeps them from failing. Through the art of storytelling, when brands use this as a way to market, they do not want to give too much information, but do not want to give too little. It has to be just enough to get a customer to the point of wanting to return and refer. I believe testimonies can do just that.

  37. Another element I feel that will help in storytelling and emotionally connecting to audiences is authenticity or genuineness. All of the above elements can make a great story, but if the story itself is so far “over the top” it may be entertaining but also forgettable. Being sincere and real in your marketing approach improves the chance that people will connect with the story, and possibly share with others. Stories that lack authenticity may be viewed as more transparent marketing tactics, and won’t have the same heartfelt impact.

  38. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies?

    Other elements that I feel that resonate is the way the company has gone out of their way to be socially responsible. Although, quality is an important part, when a company shows that they go out of their way to support causes or go “green”, consumers gravitate towards this as well. I have seen this with Bacardi as they are big on going green in their distilleries and TOMS in helping out the underprivileged.

  39. I think anything they can compare to their personal life will make an impact. Just like in school, if you can find a way to compare to their material you are studying you will retain the information and understand it; instead of memorizing facts and regurgitating information on a paper. One great example is the Publix commercials, they always have a warm heartfelt message and most people can compare that story to their personal lives. The example provided in this blog about the Red Bull is a great one, because as you are watching it you begin to picture yourself doing the same thing and it will stay with you. I think that is the main goal of any ad, to hit the consumer on a personal level then they will remember it and that should increase sales; this will have a greater impact than a “sex sells” or sarcastic/silly montage.

  40. I think one of the best methods that I find effective in content strategies is leaving consumers asking ‘what is next?’ The average human being loves mysteries, and if you leave them with them wanting more, you know that they are going to come searching for it. I know that when I am personally watching a TV commercial one of the things that catch my eye are what is different about this message than all of the previous messages that I have seen before it, and when I find it intriguing and it suddenly leaves me wanting more and thinking more about the product, I research it. This is what draws me to the company/product/service and this is why I find it most effective.

  41. Some other elements I would bring to the table, above all mentioned, would be simplicity and relevance. Considering the amount of knowledge people have of only focusing on relevant content, it must portray a sense of both simplicity and relevancy. Most important however, is the power of mystery.

    The power of mystery! This article was broken into three parts and (in my own humble opinion) pulled the reader into a very important aspect of brand story telling; MYSTERY. Mystery is important in an effective brand story content strategy because mystery sparks emotion and most of all, it leaves room for more; not expelling it all at once.

    Brand story telling is a narrative asset because it is a universal human emotional currency. See the dollar signs yet? In a world full of content, room for imagination, imagery, humor, and a tug at the human heart, brand story telling is a multicultural feat in the face of information overload. Storytelling sparks emotion and transports (key word here) people in a different mindset (another key word here). Why is transporting people into a different mind set so important? It is important because effective marketing has always aimed for changing the mindset of the consumer (in it most simplest terms). Getting people to be emotionally into the brand can build substantial loyalty. In the arena of ever increasing competitors, this marketing strategy is essential to finding both the story of the company or product and the mind set of its end users. In this strategy, organizations have the choice to build strategic goals based on a more market-oriented pathway, with a deeper understanding of its end users.

    The only implication I might see with brand story telling is its effectiveness of making people listen or even believe. As a content creator, brand story telling must be meticulously planned out, allowing for the reader to accept the offerings of a brand story. Brand story telling should not be another “in your face” advertising attempt…but a sincere way to reach out to its readers, end users, or customers.

    In conclusion, brand story telling can be beneficial in most circumstances. Just like any other strategic move, it must be meticulously planned and executed in a way that it resonates with its readers and most of all the organization itself. The key goal is to be SINCERE….so that people believe and keep reading.

  42. Do I buy into the trend toward storytelling? Yes, I do believe that it will be more and more common in the future to come to use storytelling for brands in order to achieve greater connection with their customers. But I also believe that it will backfire. Indeed, more and more companies uses storytelling in order to acquire more customers and link with them, connecting at a deeper level, but if all companies uses this technique, it will become as the other long times used one: noise. Indeed, if everything company uses this technique, the market will be saturated and overwhelmed with storytelling, which will in the end make storytelling an unsuccessful advertising campaign technique.
    I do therefor, strongly believe that storytelling has a bright future for now ahead of it, and that more and more companies will use it. But I also believe that if every company uses this technique, the market will be saturated and it will be another technique assimilated to: advertising noise.
    Other techniques that would be effective in striking an emotional chord would be reunited families. Indeed, we often show heroes, entire life of a family, but rarely family coming together. The use of a soldier fighting for his country and coming back to his wife and daughter is very popular and reunited family could be more exploited. An example could be a family broken apart where the children do not talk to their dad anymore because he is always at work. Until the father builds as a surprise a house in a tree, or comes unannounced to a baseball game, which would bring them back to talking and to be close would be a nice way to strike an emotional chord. Also another way could be to use nature and animals. Make humans closer to nature, making them feel better, helping their health, etc. Some companies already use this technique in order to sell their cosmetics products, but it is not the most common technique used yet. A company called Garnier in France often brags about their products coming from nature, getting humans to re-encounter nature in rural areas such as: Morocco, Ushuaia, etc.
    In terms of other elements that would be effective in a brand story, we could say that the one listed above are the main one, and so far proven to be the most effective. But we could add a few that have not been yet used very often and that would be very useful: Similarities, Helping the customers, teamwork between close friends and family.
    I believe indeed that so far mostly only banks use this technique of helping the customers to achieve their dreams and their wishes. Many companies could take advantages of this and use this technique in order to better connect with the customers. Also teamwork is useful; indeed, more and more families nowadays are decomposing and breaking apart to become several independent individuals. Many families are trying to reconnect and reunite even though technology separates more than it gets people together, if a brand would promote the fact that they bring families together, make them enjoy time together, it would have a strong emotional impact and it would be a nice story to tell. But I believe that as the blog perfectly explains that the most important to show are truth, familiar and language. Because indeed you can show a story but if it is not true, if the customer doesn’t find it familiar and can’t link to it, if it can’t understand it because of the language used, it is pointless.
    To conclude I believe that storytelling has a good future ahead of itself, if marketers know how to use it and not submerge customers into it. I also believe that the use of emotional chord, and familiar story, bounding people together, and being honest is one of the best ways to achieve large audience targeting. When a company links itself and its products to the customers, and makes it relevant to them, it is a much stronger bond between the company and the customers than simply promoting a product because of its qualities. Storytelling is an excellent way to bond with the customers on a deeper level than simply and cold product promotion/selling.

    Martin Tavernier,

  43. HEARTFELT storytelling can be highly effective for a brand, however. In analyzing Duracel’s brand story or Chrome’s “Dear Sophie,” we can see plainly that a sales proposition is almost absent. A sales pitch in the middle of a HEARTFELT brand story can have the opposite effect of this technique in each of its stages. A sales pitch can turn the Hero or Mentor into a sales person (or villain), it can loose the audiences Trust in the storyteller, thwart the Familiar Story Arch, and even crush the Emotional aspects of the story that might otherwise inspire action. Moreover, if a sales pitch is tossed in the middle of a HEARTFELT story, the audience will recognize the story is not speaking their “language” and will ironically Transform an audience into a more cautious spectator, ushering to dismiss the message as propaganda. Chrome’s “Dear Sophie,” is effective in hooking the audience because the sales pitch is essentially absent making it seem like an earlier thread of content that brings validity if not wide recognition to the brand is a pre-requisite to tell a HEARTFELT story that strikes a chord in the audience. If a brand has the benefit of recognition, then throwing a sales pitch in the middle of their brand storytelling video or audio cast is self-destructive, if a brand does not yet have the necessary amount of recognition or is a small fish in a big pond, it should likewise steer away from the sales pitch and follow the suggested guidelines in the HEARTFELT brand story technique and avoid the temptation of throwing in sales speak and breaking the audience’s “suspension of disbelief.”

    Santiago Garza

  44. I think that another element of branding a story is similarity. People love seeing and supporting others who are similar to them and/or have went through similar struggles and tribulations in their life. When a consumer is able to see that a company’s beginnings or challenges that members of a company or whatever the group is promoting is something that the consumer agrees with morally or has experienced in a positive light, he or she would be more willing to be supportive of the group or company.

  45. I find the elements of emotional content to be a very effective strategy in attracting an audience. Most people that view these commercials enjoy or have experienced heartfelt emotions and tear jerkers. I believe this is an effective way in selling a product because when i buy a product i look for these successful storytelling moments. I feel the key is to have a storytelling technique that is successful or is inspirational & motivational. Once you create that connection with your audience you are good togo.

  46. All of the elements showed were very important to brand story telling. Another element I feel is highly important is to make sure the brand is significantly involved into the story. Sometimes you may watch a commercial with story brand telling, but not realize exactly what is being marketed. If you do, it can often be a footnote. I feel especially with car commercials that choose this route, it’s typically to only see the brand flash on for half a second at the end of the commercial and it’s very easy to miss. Either in color scheme or other aspects, the brand should be embedded into the commercial in such a way that the viewer can recall it, not just the story alone.

  47. I feel that there are many different elements that are important and effective when it comes to brand storytelling. I feel that the most important element is for the company to tell the truth. I feel that no brand can be built upon lies. Companies need to show real people in real situations in order for consumers to comply. This helps the company show genuine emotions towards its consumers. It is also important for companies to use accurate data and cite the sources they are getting data and information from so consumers are more inclined to believe the value of the business. Before even citing sources, businesses need to make sure their sources are legit and are the best. It is also important for the company to know the opposing side of their business or their competition, even if they don’t mention the possible opposing side or competition to their consumers. It is also important to keep things simple for consumers and be very visual.

  48. Another element of a brand story that I found effective is the ability for the company to deliver a message that they are helping to realize our dreams. American Express has been targeting the consumer that has always dreamed of starting their own business. They tell the story of individuals that had wonderful ideas but was unsure how they could realize those aspirations.

    The story presented a small timeline to getting a business started, a problem and showed how the individuals’ portrayed solved their problems using their American Express card. The problem presented was how to solve short term financial issues in order to keep the business going. On top of that they showed how by paying the companies expenses with the card they can earn points to get other things.

    This piece targets the American spirit and dream engaging the audience. This helps the audience to place this company in the position of being the small business owner’s friend. American Express based on my experience had previously targeted the affluent and due to competition and retailers not accepting their charge card placed them in the position of targeting a new consumer. This new consumer are those that are the small business owners on their way to possibly becoming affluent.

  49. I feel like another element of a brand story that would be effective would be empowerment of the viewer. The story empowers a person in the advertisement to do something and this can translate to empowering the viewer watching someone else be empowered. For example, say the commercial is showing how a person is gaining a sort of courage to lead and make a difference at something. The viewer may be inspired to do the same and go out to do something that makes a difference. This element of empowerment is a great marketing tool because it focuses on the viewers and gives people a sort of feeling of comfort to the company advertising. These advertisements would create your story by saying words like “you will rise”, you will make a difference”, “you have the power”. These commercials make people feel that they matter and ultimately empowers them.

  50. I personally think that demonstrating cute moments in a story format in commercials can do wonders for a brand. For example, The recent Super Bowl Budweiser commercial where a puppy befriends a horse from a neighboring farm, but their friendship is interrupted when the farmer thinks hes lost and take him back to his home. That story is good at creating a heartfelt moment and with its All American setting it makes Budweiser appeasing to the American audience as well.

  51. What other element of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies? I think that leaving the consumer with a hook or with a blank open question. Having this strategy gives the brand the opportunity to have the consumers connect to the brand on their own level. The opportunity to leave the question unanswered kills the reader in my opinion. Anytime I see a marketing commercial leaves an open remark, I’m always going to see what else is being drawn from this, as well as what I can possibly draw from it. Many conclusions could be taken from these types of situations, if the marketing continues or they leave the consumer to believe what might come next.

  52. I always find a combination of factors that need to be effective in creating a brand story. I believe humor, relevance and I always like to see a central character/theme recurring in a company commercial. A few good examples of which I believe are commercials with effective brand stories: The Progressive commercials – always funny and I like to see what the recurring character Flo is up to. The commercials are also relevant – the viewer is not just watching a commercial and then saying at the end “What are the selling?” – or “Which company was that?” I find this a common occurrence in many commercials especially car commercials.
    For a theme based commercial I always look forward to the Superbowl Doritos commercials. Without even seeing them I know they are going to be funny. I also know the GEICO Commercials are going to be funny. I also enjoyed the Priceline commercials with William Shatner – I thought it was effective that they built a story around his character (with villains to battle through a string of commercials) and even killed his character off in the end. I believe these are very effective strategies and I am surprised more companies do not do this. Just seeing the commercial in a public venue without sound and you can spot a Progressive, Priceline and GEICO commercial. Therefore, they have established the brand image/story – the purpose of a successful marketing campaign.

  53. A brand story that tells a tale of humble beginnings, goes through struggles, but still finds success despite their challenges to experience a happy ending is one technique I find effective in striking a chord. Another might be a parent who reminisces about all the good memories they have with their kids as they leave for college, or an inspirational story of an underdog who overcomes adversity and comes out on top in the end, etc. All of these strike a chord with me, and I’m sure it does with others.

    I think the key for story-telling techniques is creating the connection, the engagement; making the person pay attention, think or feel something that they weren’t already experiencing. Whether it’s through an inspiration, humor, emotion, or anything else, the story needs to elicit some kind of response or reaction, whether internally or externally–creating interest and curiosity in the story that’s being told.

  54. For me in particular, two things stand out when judging the effectiveness of a brand via it’s commercial. The first thing that catches my eye is when a celebrity or a larger than life actor acts just like a regular person in the commercial, this really puts a face to the product being sold for me and is a strong motivator in encouraging me to buy the product. The other element of the brand story is that it is inspirational or meaningful in nature, for example, I enjoy that the brand creates a legendary story behind its product.

  55. Brand storytelling is an effective marketing strategy as long as the information being used is genuine and relevant. People like to know what they are getting into before they buy it. Product marketing is the most important aspect of business when trying to make a profit. People want to buy a product which has everything that comes as advertised so the most important aspect that should be focused is what is relevant. As long as it is being advertised as is, then the product has a good chance of being very successful. Brand marketing is successful as long as the brand is as good as advertised. For example you have Coke and Pepsi which have been around for many years and despite many years of large sales, their marketing strategy doesn’t change due to it being marketed as the same great taste since it began. A brand is only as good as its original, and the original is good due to it being advertised as it should be.

  56. I find the use of emotional content to be very effective. The viewers have strong feelings that they have built on their whole lives. These feelings cannot be swayed or changed. They cannot be bought or sold. If you can tap into that emotion, you truly are connecting with the person. That connection will spread like wildfire. Word of mouth will spread the message. People will believe in the product if they can relate to it. I also enjoy the use of heroes and villains in content strategies. I think they are a great way to illustrate the direction you hope the viewers will want to go. Cows holding signs that say eat more chicken are a simple way to make us think that cows have more personality or feelings than a chicken does. This aim should make viewers want to choose a chicken sandwich over a burger. Bug spray commercials use life sized bug costumes to portray bugs as these shady individuals and the bug sprayer as the hero. It’s an easy and effective way to make a point, and humor is usually added in.

  57. I believe the most important thing for the content strategies for successful marketing is making sure you have reliable information as well as content that doesn’t make the consumer feel like they are wasting their time. To get the attention and following of the consumer, the audience must feel important and connect with the brand. The consumer is always in contact with marketing and different types of advertisements. The suppliers need to recognize what exactly how the product can be beneficial to the consumer. They have to feel like they not only need it or want it, but they cant live without it. They have to have the ability to catch the attention of the consumer and give them reason and meaning to their product in a emotional way to make the consumer respond. The suppliers have to build a bond and connection with the consumers that will last. The storytelling is key in doing so. No matter what element of storytelling is used, the attention must be grabbed and leave an impression on the consumer. Once this trust is built, you have a lasting customer who uses the product in their life and will most likely talk about it or display the products results for others to see. This will lead to an expansion of people who see the product in the ‘environment’ and that is marketing in itself.

  58. The biggest element for a brand story that I would find effective for content strategies is relevant value. To get the most out of an audience, they must feel connected to the brand. The audience will resonate with a brand story after developing an emotional connection due to the story’s relevant meaning. An audience is naturally exposed to an abundant amount of advertising—including attempts at brand stories. With so many ads, it’s easy to see why brands are ignored and overlooked. That is why value is imperative. Attention will be given and an opportunity to build trust will be up for the taking if brand ads, calls to action, or stories mattered to people.

    Minding this, I believe that creating a relevant value for the audience is definitely key to connect emotionally with audiences. Once that happens, stories will be shared, treasured, and recalled.

    Overall, heartfelt stories can’t be heartfelt if they were nowhere valued to the recipient anyway.

  59. Another element I would find effective in this content strategies is showing the proof of the benefits. Sometimes there are very good stories that are trusted and their relevant, but showing proof of the effectiveness of the brand storytelling, helps to build the trust more and leave customers more satisfied. Once you show proof, it will give people the confidence that this brand storytelling can also work in their favor. In addition, it helps them to see that you’re trying to make their lives better and not just make money off of them. An example of showing proof could be going to different places around the world and show casing the brand storytelling live for free, using a few customers interested as guinea pigs. During those free sessions you can have people either take pictures or video tape the results once they receive them or if it’s an immediate benefit, video tape or take pictures there. Then use those videos or pictures to show the whole world on YouTube or TV.

  60. Of all the elements of story telling I consider Relevance to be an element that I find to be the most effective. First, because people want to know if the product and story is something that is important and useful to them, and second to build that relationship. For me personally I find I want to know more about something when I have an emotional connection to it. Whenever story taps into my heart because I feel what they feel, that really pushes me towards wanting to learn more about the background of the certain blogger or company, and even find myself following their blogs weekly. It becomes of way of inspirations, and can become a potential virtual friend, that understands your thoughts and shares your same interests and feelings.

  61. MAKE IT VISUAL. Written and spoken words are good ways to tell a story, but visual stories are usually more powerful, memorable and makes it come to life. Take for instance EDUN, a designer brand who launched a video with elephants and models interacting in a studio. The video was used not only to tell the story of the African inspiration behind their clothing but also the unfortunate situation of the decline of the African elephants as a species which the brand is helping to create awareness of in partnership with wildlife non-profit organizations.
    This is a perfect example of how visuality can have such tremendous impact when telling a story (more than one in this case). The giantism of the elephants is a powerful image and even more so seeing a magical moment of such a beautiful, humongous creature interacting with an ordinary human being.

  62. For something to standout in my mind it has to be something that really meant a lot to me. Like most people, a good tear jerker is effective in content strategy simply because that’s what you remember the most. Whether the tears are from laughing or crying, tear jerkers usually leave a permit or long lasting impression in the consumers mind. In additions to tear jerkers, appealing to one’s desire is also effective in content strategy. Take the M&Ms commercial for example, this huge all chocolate candy is being dragged out of a house by someone who is crazy over chocolate just so she can satisfy her desire. Another example would be those NutraSystem commercials that appeal to the heavyset man or woman who desires to be skinny. These content areas sell products because they make you want what they have to offer. If fact, they make you feel like you need it.

  63. Commercials with humor always get my attention. If I notice something is exaggerated it will catch my attention instantly. I will not change or fast forward the commercial if I know it will make me laugh. The AT&T commercial with the kids around a table taking to the adult always catches my attention. Another commercial is the snickers commercial which says that when someone is hungry they act differently, not like themselves. I am guilty and have used the same line to a friend and handed them a snickers. This shows me that the snickers ad was great because it made me remember the plot and use it myself on someone with their product; I was able to relate to their product. Finally, I feel that consumers have a better time dealing with humor than with a sentimental ad. There are some airline commercials that make people tear up and I know people who will not watch the commercial because it makes them sad.

  64. So what other elements of a brand story do you find effective in your content strategies

    The tear jerker is always a brand story that could be effective because it hits one emotionally and can leave a impression. e When a story is able to touch someone where it warrants reflection, and emotion, it is a keeper and will leave a lasting impression. Now when someone read, sees, or hears something that relates to that story, the brain will immediately take it to that moment of how they felt, and again cause that person to go there again. I also believe humor can have the same effect because its not a sense of story telling just to make that person smile, but to elicit some type of laughter that makes that moment memorable, and makes one want to share that humor with someone else. In storytelling, if one is able to grab the reader by making them reflect upon one self, then they have a good strategy. Or if they are able to make the reader feel good about something, they also have a good strategy going on.

  65. I think the actual element of marketing is the bottom-line or buying point of the marketing. After you’ve built up the consumers interest thru storytelling and emotion you get to the element of what it is you’re trying to market. The element can be at the ending, beginning, or the entire baseline of the marketing ploy you’re trying to use to draw the consumer into viewing the product as an essential and no longer a product. Element is essentially the product being a invaluable statement and not just a product of value.

  66. This article pretty much covered every element of brand storytelling that one could think of. The only other things that came to mind are fantasy and unrealistic or exaggerated story lines. Skittles, Doritos, Atlantis, and Sandals resorts have successfully used fantasy and exaggerated or unrealistic story lines to engage viewers. I do agree that adding a teaching moment and addressing social responsibility issues do have a strong impact on viewers and make people more likely to respect and build trust with a brand. Entrepreneurs need to make sure the story they want to tell, consumer need for the product or service they are advertising, and brand image are all in sync when determining elements of the story and content strategy.

  67. Relevance, relevance, relevance, that’s it. If it is not important it should not matter. No peace toting, fuzzy feeling, emotional roller coaster is going to get practical buyers to make a purchase. Save that for the empty spenders and the cash cows. You want a product that is going to be viable, long lasting, and worthwhile, push its relevance over anything else. That has the most impact on anything especially time sensitivity. You want to catch hold of a market and see a product skyrocket, what are the people looking for right there and right now. If they want puppies, give them puppies. They are looking for pick me ups, churn out a self-help geared product. War is going down, ride the veteran hype train. If the market analysis doesn’t reflect the wants of the people, don’t try and guess. If it doesn’t matter to the customer, why does it matter at all?

  68. Oprah Winfrey is a great example of the epitome of Brand storytelling. She was one of the first who distinguished herself from other talk show hosts by connecting the speaker with the audience. Likewise, as reality TV series continue to reach new heights with regard to the number of viewers, the trend will continue to shift towards a generation of consumers who want the real deal on a product before they make the decision to purchase. Building trust and credibility will be key, but even more so then being able to capture attention with a great storyline; companies will need to show some level of corporate responsibility. Hence, the visibility of a company will also play an integral role in formulating trust. In other words the freebies given out to a paying customer would not be seen as commendable as making a contribution to help feed the poor or expand education for the underserved. I guess you could say a leading company with the intention to grow its market through the use of brand storytelling, should consider the impact of the story line in relation to the audience, not only from a business perspective ,in terms of financials but also recognizing the diversity of buyers from a global perspective.

  69. Among other elements of brand story that I find effective in my content strategies are: humorous, relevant and enlightening. For instance the humorous analogy advertising technique which is most likely to capture the attention of most: “is enjoying others misfortunes”. As illustrated in many of those ads that incorporate other humorous analogies like exaggeration, unexpected twists and odd settings, which make them even more effective as they bring the question “what’s with….”. On the other hand it is not only the enjoyment of the misfortune itself but rather the fact that some of these ads are incredible funny and explore great extremes while succeeding in resonating with one’s sense of humor. Subsequently, the situational comedy becomes almost unreal in a sense that many of the situations would rarely or never occur in a real life scenario. Humor is and effective tool to present the company’s product or service incorporated in the ad in order to ensure that the consumer remembers the underlying message intended by marketers. Multiple examples can be seen from the Directv Commercial on why one should get rid of cable.

  70. An element of brand storytelling that I find effective in content strategies is that the story has to have a good progression. There’s a beginning, middle, and ending. Good progression also has a major transformation; something that changes that supports the core of the story. Another element of brand storytelling that I find affective is to passion. Content strategy needs to have passion, it will keep them coming back for more. Passion for being the best must be apparent in any brand story. You wouldn’t be telling your story unless you were excited about it, loved what you do and what others know about it. It’s what will grab your audience, engage the emotions of your customers to support your business and spread the word around.

  71. I firmly agree that the H-E-A-R-T-F-E-L-T elements to brand stories are effective in getting the audience to connect and familiarize themselves with the importance of a brand. In my opinion, another element that would be effective in bringing out content strategies is “having a great story that spreads easily”. Brands have to make sure that their brand stories are short and not complicated to consume which makes it easy for the market to remember and share it. This makes the target market embrace the brand much easier and through incorporating the other elements such as Relevance to audience needs, Trusted source for credibility and ability to transform the audiences into wise people. This will make sure that brand is able to inspire audiences who will consider a change in their behaviors through the elements listed above and having a great story that spreads easily.

  72. Two other elements I find effective in content strategy, are Humor and Fantasy. Wit and laughable situations give great access to customers, by creating the brand as a friend that will cheer them up and make them smile. It brings the brand into a humanistic view. Fantasy relates to the projection of the ideal life. When I think of my favorite stories, I always think to childhood fairytales. What makes them so appealing and why have they stayed with me for so long? Well, they gave me a dream, a goal they presented the ideal world, the greatest love story, and the best champions. A brand that can relate itself to attaining the ideal can gain my attention.

  73. In creating an effective content strategy it is crucial for a company to generate motivation for the customer. By influencing the audience to participate in an activity or even accomplish a goal, a connection will be built between the company and consumer that is “HEARTFELT.” In a world where advertisements are endless and the amount of noise continues to grow, storytelling is proving to be the most effective route in reaching and influencing people. Companies such as Nike and Adidas have been creating ads that show an athlete accomplishing a goal or an average citizen surpassing their own self-expectations. These motivational factors evoke positive feelings within the consumer through storytelling that will build relationships and a positive image of the company and product.

  74. Three elements of brand story telling that I find effective in content strategies are: First, it must be relevant; I must be able to see myself in the advertisement, service or product that is being offered. If I can’t relate, then my interest is immediately shifted to something else and the window of opportunity is shut. Second, episodes are a great strategy to keep the consumer tuned in. I like what Progressive Insurance has done with the character Flo in their commercials. I feel as though, if I met Flo on the street, I already have a personal sense of who she is and what she is about. Episodes bait the consumer to stay tuned and eagerly anticipate the next product deployment. Finally, the strategy must include a hero. Reverting back to Flo in the Progressive campaign, she is a hero to all of us who would like to save money on their insurance needs.

  75. There are many elements of a brand story that can have an effect in content strategies. Everyone loves a good story and a lot of people like to tell them too. In order to build an effective and memorable story I feel that a company should follow these key elements like: Identify the most critical point of difference, who is you hero, be genuine, and you got to have passion. Stories tend to draw people in creating an emotional response. When people hear a good story they tend to pass it on building awareness for companies and brands. Out of the elements I listed I feel providing passion when giving a story about you brand is important. Passion will keep the consumers coming back for more because it will grab the audience attention and engage the emotions of consumers to support and spread the word of your business / brand.

  76. I want to be able to provide content that is easy to understand and is motivational and relatable. By having simple and clear content, I believe that people have a better understanding of what you are trying to tell them. When you provide too much content, that is lengthy and difficult to read, people will turn away from it. Even if you are advertising a product or service that the customer does not understand, it is more than likely that they are not going to make a purchase. Having content that people can understand is important because they are able to connect with you. This ties into having relatable content because once you have a personal connection with your audience, you can build a relationship with them. This then results in customer loyalty. As far as motivation, I want my audience to be better and greater. Everyone needs motivation, and by providing that for customers, I believe will draw them in more to your brand.

  77. Brand storytelling techniques that I feel are effective in striking an emotional chord are those that show real life situations that people go through. Commercials that make people aware as a result of bad decisions I think can be an effective brand storytelling technique. When showing commercials like the don’t text and drive, triggers an emotion in people because it gives them a warning as to what can happen. It makes them think about life and how they can prevent certain situations. By showing the last text someone was sending before their life ended makes people think about what could have happened to them. Another example is the smoking commercials by tobacco. People who have been affected by smoking, such as having cancer or an having an amputation done, tells their story of what happened to them as a result of smoking. This commercial makes people think about their life and what could possibly happen if they continue. The emotional trigger in that is feeling awareness and having people break bad habits.

  78. These are all really important elements of brand storytelling. Additionally, I connect more to stories that are up to date. Similar to the relevance element described above, I think stories are most effective when they incorporate some sort of current event or problem. Stories that deal with hard economic times for instance will have more impact of viewers since so many people are experiencing hard times because of the economy. Incorporating a recent public event or something like the Olympics for example will connect more with viewers because it shows that the company is up to date and isn’t just rerunning older advertisements. When a brand is able to tell a story that people can quickly empathize and relate to allows for a deeper connection between the viewer and the brand and will have more success than a dated reference that fewer will appreciate.

  79. An element of a brand story I think is effective in content strategy is simple and clear. I feel when people try to hard it throws others off. When you have a brand story that is clear cut and to the point it’s a lot easier to understand. Some stories are all over the place which makes it hard to understand. An ad with too many picture or words on it will make a person confused and also doesn’t have brand recall. Simple is always better.

  80. I believe that another element of brand story could be leaving the “filling the blank” to the audience. It could be a subdivision under the Episode element as well. The idea is to involve the audience, make them participate. A great example of this is the new M&M’s commercials, they kidnap the yellow M&M and leave the audience with the question: what happened to him? On the next commercial some time later the audience gets to see what happened to him. This makes the audience make theories, jokes, and really wait for that next “episode” to see how the storyline evolves. Creating expectation, curiosity and interest in general for the product. Obviously the M&M’s characters are very well known all over, so the product is always present in every commercial but the storytelling, the caring for the characters, the plot is revealed piece by piece so the audience is more involved.

  81. Empathy, Inspiration and Motivation are elements I would find most effective in my content strategies. I want my audiences to be able to recognize, understand and share the same feelings that are being experienced by the characters in my brand story. My brand story needs to give consumers an idea to go do something good, to go somewhere different, to live creatively. Lastly, my brand story should be viewed as a stimulus conditioning my audiences eagerly get up and act! Empathy, Inspiration and Motivation are three emotions that all humans continuously seek. Therefore they will be highly effective when used in content strategies such as brand story telling.

  82. Another element of a brand story that I find effective in content strategies are quizzes or questions that engage the reader. When you pose a question at the end of your message, it motivates the readers to participate in the conversation and voice their own opinions. In doing so, the reader feels connected to the brand as well as appreciative that the brand wants to hear what they have to say on the topic. I believe in this current time, creating engagement from your brand story is the single most important element to effectively building brand loyalty and getting audiences to return to your brand. Additionally, I believe images and info graphics are a key element of a brand story. More and more frequently readers feel that they don’t have time to read, however, viewing an image or an infographic takes minimal time and effort with the ability to deliver an even greater impact than they would by examining an extensive story.

  83. In my opinion the most effective content strategy to engage the spectators is being fun, entertaining and simple at the same time. Emotions are the easy way to connect with the audience and exploring this is a key element to succeed in brand storytelling. For me, the best example of all was the Christmas miracle of Westjet; it had all of these elements and besides that, they were able to create something unique and that would never be expected. People were moved by the airline actions and sympathized with the situation, sharing the “Christmas spirit” values in a new way.

  84. I feel like my story’s content would have to be emotionally relevant for my audience. Even if my audience is only one individual…that one individual is probably just one of many within a personal circle of friends with the same values, morals, and likes and dislikes. This individual only needs to share my story with one other in their circle who probably belongs to another circle…the circles all connect. My message would circulate within many circles, especially if…the message is emotionally relevant for their circumstances. Then trust is being built from within the circle and my brand because eventually my brand would exist within the fabric of many circles.

  85. An element I find to be effective in any content strategy of storytelling would be simple and clear. Myself along with many others have a hard time paying attention to a stories message giving its short time of being aired with a bunch of things happening leading up to the message. The perfect commercial I found to make much sense and tapped into an emotion was Apple’s Holiday Ad “Misunderstood”. Apple was able to take the approach of an oddball family member always on his phone not engaging with anyone and being singled out leading up to Christmas Day until he shared all the moments captured by him making Christmas Day a transformational experience all captured and put together by his iPhone and displayed to the Apple TV. This showed magical moments captured and shared together by Apple’s products all by simplicity.

  86. When a company is trying to create a brand story I believe the key element in their story should be motivation. When a company creates a story that is strong enough to motivate their consumers, it becomes very powerful. Regardless of a persons religion, age, or race motivation is the same. A company can do this by showing success stories and dreams made come true. A motivational company is Allstate insurance. I believe they motivate their existing consumers and new comers by showing ads of a potential tragedy being turned into a calm and peaceful resolution. When customers feel motivated they will become happy and show their motivation to other consumers which in turn attracts new people into the companies realm of consumers.

  87. The other elements in the brand story that are effective in content strategies include things such as product feature and quality. In most cases, the consumers buy a product as a result of the information about that offering they have. Information about a product includes elements such as product features as well as quality. Customers are primarily interested in buying products that have value for their money. These products would satisfy the customers if they are comprised of quality features. This is the essence of marketing where the marketers seek to satisfy the needs and interests of the customers profitably. The brand story should speak on its own such that the customers may be compelled to try the product. Through careful designing of the brand story, the customer is in a better position to learn new things about the brand which he or she may not be aware of. This will create a positive attitude toward the market offering if they have the right information about the product.

  88. I find the more simple, short and to the point the story is, the more effective it will be. Similar to an ad in a magazine, the more complex the more I have to think about the message. If a story can be delivered in that manner it will be very effective. The dollar shave club story is a great example and one that stands out to me as being very effective. It combines a very short and clear message. As an added bonus the message is also very humorous which helps to make it memorable.

  89. Motivation and inspiration are key elements of a brand story which is very effective in content strategies. They both are such simple elements when you think of it but at a time of recession a little motivation goes a long way. Motivation is a positive strategy that all people can relate to no matter what age a person is. Small clips of how the company may have started and where it is now is motivational for other people to do well and follow their dreams. Watching a success story with a happy ending is what sells. Happy endings make people happy and persuades them to want to be a part of that company which in turn influences the consumer to buy the product. It creates loyalty and trust in the brand because they can see that the company was built up in an honest way and with good intentions. It also develops positive feelings that the consumer can relate to the company.

  90. Everyone has a story. Every narrator has a brand. Every brand has a story. Brand stories shape culture. No narrator/marketer can be exonerated from the narration/brand. To make the hype of any story depends on the formulation of the strategy and of course, its deliverance. It is on how the critical elements of success are integrated into creative campaign to deliver just that simple loaded message.
    To be successful you ought to make your target believes in you and your story/brand. Remember, ‘Yes We Can’, the brand delivered a historic presidency.

    People always need something to believe in. ‘Yes We Can’ bellowed almost in every corner/gathering. In the brand, the audiences saw their own values, hopes, and dreams prosper. They developed and deepened emotional connections to the campaign, and turned the tables to the success of the unknown. What an odd success story, that has arisen new stories.

    This is a story of inspiration; it should urge small businesses into energy to compete even against large scale businesses in order to gain an edge.

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