What role does storytelling play in marketing and advertising? It’s a fair question and hardly a new one. A quick web search reveals piles of opinions, articles and studies that demonstrate not only how powerful storytelling can be, but how applicable it is to brands looking to enhance awareness and customer loyalty.
I actually had a meeting last week where I got into a discussion with a video producer about this very subject. In her opinion, and I can’t say I disagree, the best advertising campaigns take consumers on an emotional journey – not only differentiating the brand from competitors and educating about products, but appealing to customers’ wants, needs and desires.
Which, of course, begs the question of how the heck do you tell a compelling brand story? By what means, in which forms and in what voice do you use to elevate your brand to something that your customers not only feel drawn to, but trust.
I don’t mean to oversimplify, but I find the following formula pretty handy when I begin to develop a brand-focused advertising and marketing program:
X + Y = Z
OK, I know that looks like math, but follow me here for a second. If,
X = what your brand stands for and/or what values you want to communicate
Y = how you will illustrate your point
Z = the form in which the tale is told
then, X + Y = Z adds up to a compelling brand story. As an example, let’s use one brand many people are familiar with, if not personally then from their television advertising: Apple. Using this formula:
X = Apple stands for technology that isn’t intimidating, is user-friendly and just feels good to use
Y = This is illustrated by happy customers with smiling faces using Apple products to better communicate with those people that they care about
Z = And we’re going to tell it in the form of a TV commercial
This model isn’t only applicable to big brands either. You can (and should) use it too. Whether its video on your website, a new entry for your blog or a direct mail piece – its all the same: to tell a compelling brand story you need to have a clear vision for what you want to communicate (X) + how you will illustrate that point and/or fulfill the promise you’re making (Y) and select the right format for delivery (= Z).
Even better, this formula can deliver a variety of expressions and ways to communicate your core brand values to customers on a repeatable basis. It gives structure to test different approaches, to see what resonates best with your audience and variables to experiment with.
So, here’s my question: what are you doing this month to tell a more compelling brand story to your customers and prospects? Are you using the X + Y = Z formula? If not, why? If so, how is it helping you exceed your goals?