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Once upon a time, a brand, far, far away …

What is a story?

“Storytelling is the conveying of events in words, and images, often by improvisation or embellishment. Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and to instil moral values.”, is how  defines storytelling.

Why do we tell stories?

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou

We recognize data patterns (E.g. human faces, numbers, music notes) and extract information by assigning meaning to these patterns (E.g. your father’s face, mathematics, Beethoven’s 5th Symphony). We use stories to make sense of the world as they are also recognizable patterns.

What do stories do?

Stories have allowed us to inadvertently experience virtual reality for thousands of years. When we are presented with verbal information an area in the brain called ‘Wernicke’s area is activated. This area is responsible for the comprehension of speech.

If we perceive or experience the information as uninteresting, then that is about all that happens. When we hear a story however, additional areas of the brain are activated. If a scrumptious apple pie appears in the story, your sensory cortex is activated, causing you to smell and taste the dish – as you are now. If there is motion in the story, your motor cortex responds.

How can content marketers use stories?

Your brain has the power to make you experience stories as though they were real.

You are in effect the main character of each story you hear. This is super cool. It means content marketers can tell their brand stories and each ‘listener’ in the target audience can be the leading actor.

Stories influence our way of thinking. Telling absorbing stories can actually change the way an audience thinks about, perceives and even behaves, towards your brand.

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” Charles de Lint

How do you develop a brand story?

Brand storytelling is not a 5,000-word article or presentation covering your performance metrics or the features of your products. Brand storytelling is conveying useful and interesting information in a narrative.

As most information is not pre-packaged in a user-friendly story format, as a content marketer, you will most probably need to start with a handful of facts. (E.g. Our content generation is more effective than competitors’, our design will improve your positioning, our brand profiling will assimilate your brand).

These concepts are not stories. They do however form the basis for a great storytelling opportunity. By introducing setting and situation to your concepts, you can take your target audience on a storyline journey signifying who you are and what you offer.

Where do you begin?

You READ – Courtesy of Hubspot

  • R – Research Your Target Audience
  • E – Establish Your Story
  • A – Add Details
  • D – Distribute

See Hubspot for a storytelling formula.

The myriad of digital platforms available means that we have many options for how, and where, we display our stories. If they resonate with your target audience, you can use articles, videos, posts, infographics or a host of other formats to engage your audience and drive conversations.

Stories are an excellent marketing tactic as they are universal and flexible. People love a good story, because it helps them to make sense of the world. Stories ignite our brains and influence our lives. Told well, your brand story can add value to people’s lives and to your business.

Happy Story Telling!

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