As a little kid, learning a lesson meant a story from the Mahabharata or the Ramayana. Through these timeless books, I was taught lessons to last a lifetime. How can one ever forget the moral stories of Birbal? How about the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales? There are stories all around us and one is never tired of stories. The heroes in stories inspire us by the numerous ways he/she deals with challenges. It cannot be denied that it is the oldest form of disseminating information, entertainment and forming meaningful connections.
Why must brands tell stories?
The reason lies in the very structure of a story. With a powerful narrative, a story often creates followers who are so loyal that they tend to share the story with others. This brings in a larger audience and that too organically. There is no denying that organic is the best way. This is similar to the way you would retell stories that you have listened to in the past. My children know all the stories that I heard and loved in my childhood. Someday, they will be retold.
Of course, the stories that stay with us are the ones we can relate to.
How do you tell a good story?
If you are able to tell a good story, you'll definitely gain a fair advantage. I can go on about the structure of a story and rant about how it ought to have a good beginning, body and ending. Think about it though: What really attracted you to a particular story? What made it better than another one that you heard? For me, it has been a mix of the following:
I have always loved stories that have been able to connect to me as an individual. If the subject matter and style interests a person, then half the battle is won. Remember to tell a story keeping the audience in mind. A simple example can be how the type of stories we tell kids and adults are worlds apart. This is the same for Men and women, Young and Old, Teens and Adults, and so on.
Another aspect is inspiration. A story needs to have the power to inspire. Brands can reimagine their long term goals and connect it with what they are passionate about and inspire people with their ideas. This not only forms a ‘connect’, but will also have a long term impact on choices made by consumers.
I did shun structure in the beginning, however, structure is important for clarity of message. If the structure of the story fails, then the message will not get across even if the intention is noble. A structure has to be so good that people wouldn’t even realise that it was structured in the first place. Structure also includes your choice of characters in the story to be told as well as the execution.
A story must make us feel. Emotion. Pain. Love. Anger. Happiness. No matter what the message of your story is, connect it with the emotion that you want your audience to experience. If your brand is an NGO and you want people to donate – your feeling could be pain that drives one to act. It could even be happiness in giving to others. Once you have your story ready, connect it with an emotion in order to make it a successful campaign.
Last but not the least, convey the message in the story. Often times we see videos and texts that are a complete waste of time. An underlying message is what makes the story worthwhile. We tell children moral stories so that they learn from it. The lesson could be honesty, teamwork, sharing or any other. In marketing, the stories that you tell, need to drive people to act. Ensure that your message is clear and the consumers know what is expected of them.
Every brand has a story. If you don’t have one, make one!
We will tell you how in our next blog!
A communications professional with almost a decade's experience in the industry, in PRHUB, Raji Sarath handles an array of clients from diverse sectors (Retail to Technology to Personal Branding) in Social Media, PR and the Digital Space.