Inspiration Station Vol. 22 – Storytelling

Did you know that according to Stanford University, stories are 2,200% easier to remember than facts and figures? Why? Two words. Evolution baby.

Storytelling is a strategy that just cant be beaten. You’ve probably heard it come up in business over the years… And you’ll continue to for many more years to come! And for very good reason. Our minds are hardwired to best process our experiences in an easily digestible format: the story. Compelling stories are a powerful way to make a meaningful connection with your audience, forging a relationship that goes beyond product or service. Brand storytelling fuses the facts with the emotions that your brand evokes. It fosters loyalty.

Through the next few examples, you’ll see a common theme in brand storytelling; story first, product second. You must make your audience the hero.

1. Apple – Think different

Apple really took off after Steve Jobs began working with Pixar and realised the power of storytelling. Transformed by the pros, he understood story was everything. Apple quickly became customer-centric and began to captivate audiences. Today, they tell a story that makes their customer a hero. A creative who thinks differently.

The first campaign went from nine pages in the NY Times to just two words on billboards: Think Different. Apple began to make their messaging simple and relevant. They stopped featuring computers. Instead, they tapped into their customers’ stories. This year has seen many brands do the same, by putting our stay at home heroes in the spotlight.

From showing how the Apple Watch has literally changed people’s lives, to using perspectives to “see things differently” – Apple has a wealth of chapters in its 44 year story. Recently, we saw the return of everyone’s favourite campaign… “The Underdogs”.

A key element of effective brand storytelling are protagonists who your audience can relate to. Once people see themselves in a story, they’re emotionally invested and immediately connect with that narrative. Your brand and it’s offering will soon follow.

2. The Land of Land Rovers

Land Rover are experts at controlling their niche within the automotive market, but they really nailed it with “The Land of Land Rovers”. The campaign tells the true story of two small towns between Nepal and India where a fleet of 60-year-old Land Rovers are vital for safe and regular transport between the two villages.

It’s so effective because not only is it real, but it perfectly illustrates how hardy and trustworthy the vehicles are. It adds a human element that shows how the product is an essential part of life for the locals. It assures the viewer that if the vehicle is dependable under those conditions then it can handle anything they throw at it – and the new models must be even better! This is the perfect example of “show, don’t tell”

Anything based on a true story is going to hit home that little bit more – and if you can demonstrate the effectiveness of your brand through a breathtaking story; then it will stay with people forever. Like all great epics.

3. Google – Year in Search

From the unique stories hidden in the Google logo each day, to its search funtionality itself; Google tells everyone’s story. By using data to put the user at the heart of everything, Google are also experts in data-driven storytelling. A great example of this is their annual ‘Year in Search’ video, which uses the most commonly searched for phrases to form a narrative of the previous year. In just a few minutes, the films’ moving footage, makes for a powerful perspective.

The films rank in the top 1% of ads due to Google’s ability to harness data to identify which moments will best engage its audience and evoke a strong range of emotions. Last year, the campaign focused on the different types of heroes around the world. The video captivated audiences by taking ordinary searches and creating a theme of empowerment. We can only imagine what the 2020 edition will look like…

By giving meaning to our search data and bringing it to life with a heartwarming narrative, Google makes the audience feel like they are a part of a larger movement – delivering a highly effective brand storytelling campaign that packs an emotional punch.

4. AirBnB

Although AirBnB may be having a rough 2020, storytelling lies at the very heart of their marketing and overall success. Just check out this short, powerful animated tale here. The platform relies on accounts from both hosts’ and guests’ own experiences (storytelling in itself) – but the brand leverages it’s users’ to tell engaging stories of community and local hospitality through a multitude of videos, bringing to life the things their audience care about: authentic, local experiences.

AirBnB quickly responded to overcome the lockdown imposed challenges on tourism by launching Online Experiences, a new way for people to connect, travel virtually and earn income during the COVID-19 crisis. They continued to tell their story by connecting the global community through activities on a virtual setting.

By looking after their hosts, not to mention those most affected by the pandemic, through various initiatives; AirBnB ensured their community’s stories continued to be heard around the globe.

5. Spotify & Podcasts

Spotify are killing it when it comes to storytelling. As a music streaming platform, with its recent focus on the podcast market and it’s “Wrapped” feature, they’ve really levelled up. All because they’ve gone beyond the songs to harness the power of storytelling.

The annual “Wrapped” feature allows users to look back on their listening insights from the year before. It’s become one of Spotify’s more anticipated releases, as it allows users to explore their own musical journey. But it’s not just that. It neatly reinforces their brand message: Spotify is more than just another streaming music app. It tells a story that Spotify can help users evolve their musical interests.

Their podcast audience has grown by more than 50% since last year too, with a 39% increase in listened podcast hours each quarter! It’s a booming industry and it’s only just getting started. Podcasts offer a wealth of personal stories, with brands developing loyal followings and intimate relationships with their audience as a result.

People are turning to podcasts to discover their tribe. This presents an unparalleled opportunity to tell your story in a personal space, to a hyper-engaged audience.

6. Instanovels, Snap & Short-form

Narratives can spread like wildfire with the right type of content, shared in the right kind of way. Channel 4 and Snap Inc. have announced a new partnership that’ll see short form edits of C4 content air on Snapchat Discover. Yep, you can now watch household favourites such as Hollyoaks from Snap. There’s even an AR Lens which allows you to create your own cliff-hanger ending (complete with theme tune and credits!). The partnership allows C4 to better tell their stories to young audiences – supercharging their social footprint.

Similarly, the New York Public Library has uploaded entire books, such as Alice in Wonderland and A Christmas Carol, to its story highlights on Instagram. Featuring custom illustrations, animation, and engaging features (like an area for your thumb to scroll without blocking text!) – the result is a highly effective, highly-accessible, and binge-able format that meets their audience where they spend the most time. The “Insta Novels” campaign has since grown NYPL’s following by over 75%, with the tales having been read more than 300,000 times!

Older, established brands can surprise audiences by harnessing new technologies and channels in their brand storytelling strategy. Don’t be afraid of trying something new, just deliver your story in a way that makes people smile.

7. Twitch, Gaming & Branding

As we’ve seen, a strong brand story always appears in several places. Twitch began as a livestreaming platform built around gaming. But, as their community grew, so did their marketing value. Twitch is expanding into other areas, averaging more viewers than many tv channels. It’s now an effective place to tell your brand’s story to an untapped audience: the hard to reach 18 – 34 year olds. KFC for instance continues to tell the story of Col. Sanders’ finger lickin’ empire through KFC Gaming and having a presence on Twitch!

The evolution of a brand’s design tells it’s own story too. Last year we helped Twitch bring their refreshed branding to life at Cannes, Gamescom and Paris Games Week! They began 2019 on a journey to update the brand to better elevate their communities to the world stage. They’re proud of their audience and how far they’ve all come together. Their community is unique. It’s evolving alongside the brand. So to tell their stories and empower them, they needed a new approach to brand design.

Don’t underestimate the power of Twitch – it’s not just for gamers anymore. With 4.7 million users, it’s only just getting started too. It’s the ideal place to tell your story to the audiences of tomorrow.

We’re in the business of telling stories. You’ve probably heard our own as we’ve been known to communicate: Live – bringing brands and their values to life for audiences around the globe…

We’d love to demonstrate our digital storytelling and see what tale our creative and strategy teams can come up with for you. We’re sure that we can help create a truly effective brand narrative that resonates with both your internal and external audiences.

Ultimately we want to provide a fun solution that benefits your business and motivates your people. It’s so important right now to be authentic and to speak honestly. It’s important you tell your story.

More than a brand experience agency, we help companies communicate, motivate, engage and express their brand personality.

Get in touch

Brand Experience Agency | London | Dublin | NYC | Digital Events | F2F Experiences | Hybrid

+44 (0)203 960 2000