Brand storytelling is employing a narrative to connect and engage with your audiences to shape your brand’s identity and perception in your user community. It is a format of marketing that relies on authenticity and humanization of the brand so that you can connect with your audiences on a more personal level. The best stories center on emotions and experiences and that is why they matter so much. A great story will inspire your audience and keep them waiting for more. Brand storytelling should be a central part of your marketing strategy.
Why is Brand Storytelling Important?
Stories are a part of the human experience, written or spoken. We connect with people whom we have never met through stories. We even passed some stories down through decades. Not only is storytelling a way to connect, but they are also a way for people to find inspiration and advice through other people’s experiences. And therefore brand storytelling is so incredibly crucial for a brand’s success and its connection with the community. Incorporating brand storytelling into your email marketing will do wonders for your brand. You can easily convert leads to buyers with a simple string of emails.
Why Should You Use Brand Storytelling in Email Marketing?
Emails are a great way to connect with your users and start communication with them. Email marketing is one of the best ways to reach an audience. It is easy to measure, it’s affordable and you can target your messages. You can improve brand loyalty and build an emotional connection with your audience if you use brand storytelling in your emails. Regardless of whether your emails have newsletters or sales campaigns, employing storytelling will increase user engagement across the board.
Elements of Brand Storytelling
There is no one way to create stories that impact people. There is no one-and-done formula. Learn from your previous stories and do better with the lessons you learn. Keep working on your storytelling; it is a skill that you can learn. And most importantly, it is something that can improve with time and practice.
There are, however, three things that every story has:
A successful story will have characters solve a conflict and find a solution to it. Think of it as: your character wants to achieve something (the end goal) and something is stopping them (the conflict).
1. The characters and style
Every character has an origin story: why they are the way they are. A reason that makes them the main character, someone worth following. Think of a narrative that is unique to you (not original). Something that sets you apart from the rest. This will be your key strategy in modeling your brand into a charter. Think of your brand history as a character’s backstory. Give them a history and a conflict to solve.
You can use your brand’s communication style and tone for the character to keep things consistent. You can even dip into your audience’s traits and characteristics to make the character more relatable. Your customers are people with interests and passions. So treat them as such and base your characters on them. The more your character embraces your audience’s core traits, the more they are likely to attract similar people.
2. The conflict
The thing that makes a story worth reading is how the character overcomes conflict and the way they work on their flaws. A conflict creates a hero. A character can only step up if there is a problem to solve. Without a conflict, there is nothing left for your character to solve or pursue.
You should be able to describe the conflict that your brand is trying to solve. If you can describe and explain it well, then you can get to trying to solve it. Your audience needs to understand what you stand for to relate to and support you. Are you trying to battle the climate crisis, or are you bringing attention to women’s empowerment? Are you trying to improve the standard of sustainability or are you trying to make products more accessible?
3. The resolution and message
Now that you have your character and a conflict that the character is trying to solve. You need to focus on your plot and message. Your character might have the world’s best or most relatable character, and an exceptional conflict. You will not reach your audiences if your communication is lacking. The entire point of a story is to communicate with your audience.
You need to detail the way you are going about solving the conflict. For example, the climate crisis, does your product have a low carbon footprint? Is your business run by women that make products for women? Are your products reusable or compatible? Are your products cheaper or more durable or made for people with disabilities?
What is our brand trying to solve? If you create a brand that is geared to help with the climate crisis, you can center your message on how sustainable or reusable your items are. If you center your product on inclusion, make sure that you practice what you preach.
How to do Email Marketing with Brand Storytelling
There are various formats or formulae that you can use in your email marketing. Which format you use depends entirely on what you are trying to achieve and your user base. Here are a few formats you can use in your emails.
It stands for:
- Attention (bring your reader’s attention to your character)
- Interest (what is the character doing and why?)
- Desire (what should they root for your character?)
- Action (how is your character helping your reader?)
Attention: there is a reason that stories don’t start with “once upon a time” anymore. Your first line should grab the attention of the reader. You will have very few chances to get your customer’s attention, so don’t let them get away.
Interest: now that you have your reader’s attention, the next step would be to generate interest. Get to the point as quickly as you can, don’t dally about. Be precise and concise in what you are offering and why.
Desire: tell them why they need your product. Will it make their life easier or better? This is where you sell your product. The best way to convert potential customers to buyers is to provide testimonials or give them proof. If you are a marketing agency, show them how you drove app installs or improved customer retention with statistics and drive the point home with testimonials of your previous users.
Action: add a call to action (CTA). what do you want your readers to do at the end of the email? If you are performing an awareness campaign or are writing up a welcome email, your CTA would be to have them visit your website or social media accounts. So you will add your website or social media links. Remember, your CTA should apply to the purpose of your email. You can’t have an awareness email with a link to the promotion page of your products.
- Problem (what is the conflict and why is it important?)
- Agitate (how is the conflict affecting people?)
- Solution (how is the character solving the conflict?)
Problem: the first step is to identify the conflict. What problems are your customers facing? The readers who have a similar problem will continue reading and those who don’t will skip past. This will mean that you are efficiently narrowing down your audience in the thicket. Be sure to promise a solution or cure to keep the reader engaged.
Agitate: get the reader invested in solving the problem. If you have a company that makes products with a zero-carbon footprint, go into the climate crisis and press into the issue. This is where you get people to care about the people and what you are doing about it.
Solution; soothe the emotion that you brought. Make sure you do not take up too much with the Agitate part, you don’t want the readers to lose interest. Give your solution to the readers and tell them why it is effective.
3. 4 Ps:
- Picture (what is the conflict?)
- Promise (what does your character aim to do?)
- Prove (how is your character achieving it?)
- Push (how can the reader help the character?)
Picture: define the problem. What is the problem, what is casting it, and how can the character solve it? Create a connection between the reader and the problem. You can tell a story about how the founder was facing the problem and how it affected them.
Promise: talk about your product (the solution). What does your product do and how is it solving the problem? If you have a company that designs affordable and sustainable women’s wear. Tell your audience that you are solving the problem fast fashion is creating. You are reducing clothes that go into landfills and making sure that your products are accessible to all women.
Prove: show them numbers and testimonials. Give them solid proof of how your products are solving the conflict/problem. Give them statistics on “before customers had our products and after customers started buying from us”.
Push: add CTAs. guide the reader on the action you want them to take. Awareness emails? Give them a link to your website. Lead generation aim? Get them to sign up for your newsletter. Conversation campaign? Link your sales page or give them a discount code.
With these formulae and tactics, you can write a plethora of emails that employ brand storytelling. From welcome emails, promotional emails, and lead generation emails to achievement emails.
A Few Key Factors of Brand Storytelling
Remember that brand storytelling is a marketing tactic and you should treat it as such. You are telling a story to your audiences to increase relevance, and brand loyalty and to create an impact on your sales.
1. Authenticity is the main component:
Through the ages, many stories have been like others or stories that have the same concepts. It is almost impossible to create an entirely original story when there are thousands of stories coming to life every day for thousands of years. So, don’t pull all of your focus on creating something original. You want to be authentic. Be true to yourself and your brand. That is how you get customers that relate to you and your story.
2. Treat your brand like a character:
Every character in a story has an arc, a background, and something that makes them relevant to the progression of the plot through the story. No one wants to read a story where the main character has no presence. The key to inserting your brand into a story is to make it into a character. You can create a story and revolve the plot around the characters. A character is a person. And such characters provide a humanized and personal touch to business communication that a brand lacks.
The more rounded your character is, the better it will resonate with your audience. You don’t want a character that falls flat and doesn’t convey a strong message. Give your character traits and characteristics, and make them as 3 dimensional as possible. Character building is very important, something that you have to get out of the way in the beginning.
- Why is your character (brand) important?
- what do they bring to the table?
- Things that make them relatable?
- What are their flaws?
- What are their strengths?
Think of your audiences. What do they like? How are they? Their flaws and strengths. Basing your character on your audience will create a character that is relatable to the people you are targeting.
3. Consistency is the sweet spot:
The key to marketing a brand is to have consistency across channels and campaigns. Brand Storytelling is no different. Similar to your campaign strategies, your narrative strategies for the brand story should have consistency through the various channels. Are you telling a story about the brand’s founder? Or of the employees? How did the products first start and how did they develop?
No matter what story you decide to tell, you need to remember to incorporate your brand’s communication techniques and tone. The more in brand your storytelling is, the more in character your brand’s character will be. You need to make sure that your audience can easily identify your brand’s characteristics in the stories you tell.
Brands that Excel at Brand Storytelling
Nike has to be one of the best footwear brands that hinge their marketing on brand storytelling. Their entire communication strategy relies on enticing motivation in their users. Nike shares engaging customer stories on their social media platforms to connect with their users. They use stories that create an emotional connection and move the customer. The stories don’t sell the product; they sell the experience of owning a pair of Nike shoes. Like this ad, or this one, especially this one.
Fenty is an all-inclusive makeup brand that has carved a niche for itself in the beauty industry. Rihanna (the founder) defined the company as: For women of all shades, personalities, cultures, and races. The core of the company is to represent all demographics, ethnicities, and skin shades. The company has crafted a narrative that is unique to them: identity and representation. They define the conflict as underrepresentation in the beauty industry. We know how biased the industry is towards fair-skinned, thin people. Rihanna is battling this problem with her inclusive beauty products. She launched a line of foundations that encompasses all skin tones, from the lightest to the darkest.
This is one of the most popular platforms in the marketing world because of its take on storytelling. Most people who use Airbnb are not using the platform for the technology of brilliantly written lines of code. No, they are using it because the company highlights the success stories of their customers.
Airbnb talks about people who own the home and people who have started there. The business entirely runs on testimonials, and there is a good reason for it. Testimonials are one of the easiest ways to build trust. Who are you going to trust? Impersonal statistical numbers or someone who has used the product?
No one can tell you a story better than people who have been there. And that is why Airbnb uses customer-created content (pictures and quotes) when talking about its services and offerings.