Brand storytelling that is vivid, compelling, well structured, and purposeful is timeless. The way that we share stories, however, constantly evolves.
To complicate matters, old methods of sharing stories don’t disappear. Paperback books haven’t gone away; they’ve been supplemented with tablets and readers. Likewise, brand storytellers must embrace multiple platforms and channels, each with its own strengths and limitations, each with its own devoted fans.
Ignore the future of storytelling at your own peril. You may inadvertently shut out a key audience or a prospective client.
We’ve discussed at length the DNA of storytelling and how we can use it to build loyalty and trust. When we talk about the future of storytelling, we must address both the timeless fundamentals and the challenges of embracing them in a fast-moving digital landscape.
Where’d the fundamentals go? Nowhere.
We’re all constantly learning and re-evaluating how we connect with people. However, to suggest a “return to fundamentals” in the future of storytelling is to acknowledge that brands might have left storytelling behind in favor of a marketing strategy that’s largely quantitative – focusing on trends, numbers, outcomes. This works for some. But it’s not the foundation of a memorable and lasting brand.
You can’t write an award-winning novel simply by plugging data into an AI and waiting for it to spit out a finished product, like a vending machine. Ideas need time and space to grow. People must connect with their peers and audiences to bring these ideas to life.
It’s a creative process, not an assembly line.
Ushering your brand into the future of storytelling is a daunting proposition when you’re juggling creation and distribution through a process that often changes midstream, with multiple internal and external stakeholders weighing in, and world events influencing our decision-making in real time. Here are some thoughts on how to craft a brand story that incorporates the fundamentals and the future.
Start at the beginning
What products and services do you offer, and why? What’s unique, and what isn’t? What do you value? Who inspires you? Any content creator on your team should know the answers to these questions about weave these insights into their work.
Your brand didn’t get where it is today by simply sailing off into the sunset. Challenge and conflict are what drive us to embrace change and innovation. Make these challenges part of your story, so audiences will understand your journey and make it a part of theirs.
“The fundamentals” aren’t hard-and-fast rules for brand storytelling. They’re time-tested guideposts for creativity and understanding. Novelists and essayists are experts at nonlinear storytelling. That’s because they understand which rules aren’t actually rules, and how they can break them in order to elicit a reaction. If you learn and truly understand story structure, you can do the same.
Likewise, stay on top of distribution trends. Learn about immersive technology and try out an Oculus. Educate yourself about Instagram Reels and Clubhouse. With your ongoing research in mind, take a close look at your brand story in progress and figure out which senses it appeals to. This can help you determine the ideal delivery medium and platform.
Is it highly visual? Use photography and video to draw people into a scene. Distribute on TikTok or YouTube.
Is it sonic/aural? Consider podcasting, which embraces the best qualities of radio broadcasting but with broader reach and a longer shelf life.
Is your story data driven? Use infographics to quickly communicate complex points in a way that ordinary people will digest quickly. Share them on Facebook or LinkedIn.
Are testimonials key to your brand identity? People connect when they see and read honest, genuine personal accounts. Oral histories can inspire a blend of print, digital, visual, and audio content for a variety of platforms.
It takes a village to tell a brand story. Each member of your team has something to contribute. Support each other by checking your assumptions at the door. The more you stress test your ideas during development, the more they’ll stand up to scrutiny from executive stakeholders, clients, and potential customers.
Evaluate and evolve
Metrics obviously play an enormous role in determining our success: Great content isn’t actually great if people don’t see and respond to it.
Work closely with analysts to determine what worked and why. Use these insights intelligently.
Educate your leaders and team members.
Plan for the future: How can we replicate the success of this content without simply replicating this content? (Remember: not an assembly line.) How are these insights different from past insights? How are they the same or similar?
Don’t erect barriers between the various functions of your operation. Transparency will multiply insights and bolster intellectual ownership.
These are just a few considerations when it comes to telling a brand story that will stick. Much will depend on your company culture, including your ability to embody your mission and values internally as well as externally.
Incorporating all these considerations might feel like a tall order, but they’re truly imperative in today’s brand landscape. Success hinges on authentic, meaningful, practical, and compelling brand storytelling.
Consummate Prose has the tools to help you discover and share your unique brand story. Contact us today to begin your journey.