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Why Storytelling in Marketing is Important

Posted by Valerie Nolan on May 1, 2019

These days it can be difficult to make your brand stand out from the crowd. So many aspects of marketing are over-saturated, while a seemingly endless array of media platforms can make it complicated to hone in on an approach. Luckily, particularly when it comes to video, storytelling in marketing is still one of the most successful, tried-and-true methods of reaching your audience. But why?

Storytelling 101

At the simplest level, storytelling is a process of communication that utilizes some form of narrative. But storytelling is so much more than simple conversation with a plot.

Think about how ingrained storytelling is throughout the history of mankind. It’s not limited to specific mediums, time periods, cultures, or countries. Storytelling is a universal art form that has a unique language that can easily be understood, no matter who is experiencing it.

Stories can be based in fact and truth, or embellished with fiction. They can entertain us through humor, drive action through fear and anger, and create community through emotion and shared experiences.

Ultimately, while storytelling is one of the oldest forms of communication, it’s also one of the most powerful. It’s something that can be utilized to improve branding and marketing efforts, especially for video, which is so inherently narrative-driven as a medium.

Create an Emotional Connection

Great storytelling can create some of the most powerful connections between audience and storyteller, or in this case, audiences and a brand’s service or product. Why do you think so much of Hollywood film-making has been based on remakes the last 30 or so years? Nostalgia is a powerful emotion to tap into, and one that can be repeated over and over again.

But great original storytelling can create authentic emotional connections as well. It doesn’t always have to be on this giant scale. After all, most brands aren’t producing 2-hour movies as content.

Take the IBM advertisement above. It efficiently fits a potent message in just under 3-minutes. Framed as an open letter to the technology industry as a whole “Dear Tech” takes the viewer on a journey through a variety of different perspectives, places, and voices. The speakers all differ in age, gender, nationality, and industry background (as well as some star power with a sneaky Janelle Monáe appearance).

From farmers and environmentalists, to engineers, students, and corporate leaders, the letter unites everyone with a common desire to achieve more. So, how does it actually drive emotion? For one thing the viewer might see themselves in one of the speakers and industries. Additionally, the stylish editing, fast-pacing, and musical build-up also help to inspire a feeling of hope.

It makes you trust IBM and their intentions as a brand. And it took less than 5 minutes to accomplish that feat.

Drive Engagement

Storytelling can be very powerful when it’s collaborative. Allowing the audience to participate in someway with a particular campaign through narrative helps to create that sense of community and belonging. And with today’s digital mediums, brands can take advantage of that community engagement in powerful ways.

Take the Airbnb spot above. Clocking in at around 40 seconds, it’s a video that literally explains the existence of the company’s Youtube channel. But it taps into that powerful tone of shared user experiences.

It invites guests and hosts to share their unique travel experiences or host spaces that can provide those experiences. In doing so, it invites the audience to actively participate in the community. In a stylish, cinematic way, the narrative drive here is: “Our story is still being written, and we want you to join us in writing it.”

This kind of user generated content campaign might not work for every company or industry. But there is an important lesson to learn here. Fostering an authentic, loyal community through narrative is a great way to pursue your digital marketing efforts.

Tell Authentic Stories

So, what else goes into making truly great storytelling that audiences connect with? Both of the examples we’ve included have shared one basic element: authenticity.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with really excellent fiction. Some of the oldest, most influential stories are based in fiction. And fiction can create strong communities with emotional ties just as well as nonfiction (looking at you, Game of Thrones). But it’s also a lot more difficult, from a brand-building perspective.

Often what works is the truth: telling real stories about the real people that interact with your brand. It’s another form of social proof that builds audience trust and inspires that real connection. And through video, it’s possible to take that documentary-style approach while still providing entertainment with skillful, stylish editing and post production.

Take the Spotify video above. It not only connects the audience to a platform that they’re most likely already familiar with, but explores some of the partnerships they have created that also support big community efforts. The video serves to show how easy it is for advertisers to join in that community and utilize the platform, while also showing viewers that not every ad is a simple cash grab and inspire more action.

It serves to humanize an otherwise faceless brand that you might only interact with through an app on your phone. And when it comes down to choosing a music-streaming service, maybe considering what else a provider stands for would make a difference in the decision-making process.

Start Telling Your Story

Storytelling is one of the world’s oldest forms of communication  because it is one of the most powerful means to carry a message. No matter your industry, your brand can improve its digital marketing and video production efforts through simple storytelling and narrative-building approaches.

Most methods of storytelling are comprised of skills that can take years to develop. But if you start with the basics and experiment, you’ll learn something new with each project. Eventually you’ll be regularly driving user engagement with authentic stories that emotionally inspire.

If you already have your master narrative-driven video project vision in mind, but need the best crew to help execute it, get in touch with us at Crews Control. No matter where you’re shooting, we’ll connect you with the best local crews and help you execute your next video project every step of the way.  Cinematic techniques are their first language.  Get your free quote today!

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