5 Best Practices for Effective Brand Storytelling


Gone are the days of issuing one-way press releases and purely selfish “all about us” content. These days brand storytelling is status quo, and the only way to earn consumer trust, ditch that salesy veneer, and stand out from the ever-growing crowd.

Bottom line: Without a story your company is nothing.

But brand storytelling—specifically, knowing what stories to tell and how to tell them—can be extremely challenging. Today, 60% of B2B marketers and 56% of B2C marketers report that their biggest challenge is producing engaging content (Content Marketing Institute).

To master the art of brand storytelling like the Coca-Cola Company and Johnson & Johnson, here are five best practices to help you improve your content strategy and increase engagement

Learn first hand how Johnson & Johnson built their corporate newsroom during our webinar: The Evolution of Brand Storytelling.

Best Practice #1: Authenticity Rules

Storytelling should convey not only what a company does, but also who a company is and improving brand storytelling involves tapping into the power of emotions. Good, authentic storytelling makes people feel, and feelings lead to sales because buying is personal. Logic keeps decision-making on an even plane while feelings cultivate brand affinity.

Gallup research recently demonstrated that emotionally loyal customers are willing to stick with a brand even if presented with meaningful and available alternatives. Consumers with strong emotional connections to retailers will visit their stores 32% more often and spend 46% more money than customers without emotional bonds.

For stronger sales and customer connections, focus on developing stories that touch on these seven key emotions:

  • Fear
  • Frustration
  • Hope
  • Excitement
  • Anger
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Desire to be first

Best Practice #2: Seize the Moment

In an effort to show—not just tell—the world what makes them unique, companies like Johnson & Johnson have shifted toward a more journalistic approach to corporate communications. Adopting a newsroom mentality consists of constant brainstorming, collaborating, and creating based on an understanding of trends and current events. In order to “newsify” your communications, identify the problem, stay relevant, remain accountable, and take a stand.

  • Identify the Problem: Consumers won’t stick around if a message doesn’t capture their attention immediately. You can win people over by showing right away that you feel their pain—and provide a solution.
  • Stay Relevant: What’s everyone talking about these days? Is there something people should be talking about, but aren’t? Hitch your wagon to a shared social experience whenever appropriate. Oreo famously responded to a partial blackout during Super Bowl XLVII with a simple yet astonishingly popular tweet reminding fans they can still “dunk in the dark.”
  • Be Accountable: Just as the news media must recognize their responsibility as journalistic watchdogs, you must also recognize your responsibility in society. Let people know you’re a pillar of integrity in this regard. Talk about the impact you’re making in local and global communities. From sustainability to volunteer efforts and giving back, there’s a lot to cover here.
  • Take a Stand: People are especially loyal to brands with a conscience. While companies have traditionally steered clear of anything controversial, consumers today want the truth. A Nielsen found 81% of millennials expect their favorite companies to make public declarations of their corporate citizenship. Don’t be afraid to take a stand on issues that pertain to your industry or services.

While there is no “one size fits all” newsroom style, approaching your content distribution with a real-time mindset, and tailoring this approach to fit your particular brand, will go a long way in keeping your message and your company relevant.

Best Practice #3: Publish Effectively

Technology is a critical component for telling the brand story—from initial concept to continuous analysis of results. You need technology that allows you to:

  • Create, Curate, and Manage: Websites hosting multiple pages, images, and conversations managed with a platform that lets editors publish content and respond to consumer engagement quickly and easily.
  • Distribute and Amplify: Brands need a platform that enables them to publish across a variety of channels, amplifying existing content while maintaining a consistent experience.
  • Analyze and Optimize: A successful brand marketer analyzes how and where content is consumed, delivering personalized, relevant content via the right device. With the right platform in place, marketers can identify what’s performing and what’s not, and adjust content delivery accordingly.

Best Practice #4: Embrace Change

Users today rely on multiple channels to get the information they want, in the style they want, when they want. This means that marketers and content contributors have to become masters of those different channels and types of content. Remember to:

  • Change the Channel: As new devices continue to be introduced, and people become more reliant on them, behavior patterns and display and experience needs evolve. Even the most compelling story means nothing if it can’t reach audiences where they are. Consider deploying your stories in a variety of different ways across various channels without diminishing quality.
  • Change the Content Type: The proliferation of different devices and channels is changing the way people consume information. Brand storytelling has evolved beyond just the written word. Don’t be afraid to test the waters and measure the results to see what forms of content resonate the most with your particular audience.

Best Practice #5: Measure and React

Just because storytelling is creative doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be scientific. Your brand story is a work in progress and it’s important to measure the reach and success of each story component to discover which topics, types, and channels perform best. Make sure you're paying attention to visits, sessions, channel-specific traffic, social metrics, bounce rates, conversions, leads, and any other metrics that are important to your particular business.

Brands have the ability to inspire through creative content and complementing this creativity with the right technology is a big opportunity. Unfortunately, it's common for brands to encounter technical challenges in delivering robust, engaging content to their target audience even when following storytelling best practices. Learn more about the intersection of technology and brand storytelling in next week's blog.

How to Master
Brand Storytelling

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