Storytelling is the single most important vehicle for navigating our way through life and understanding other humans – so it’s no wonder everything from marketing to mass entertainment capitalises on its powerful potential to connect.
From cave paintings and Shakespeare’s plays to Netflix dramas, the story form has adapted over time, but always keeps audiences on the edges of their seats.
It electrifies the empathic touchpoints that humanise your brand, build loyalty and spur sustainable success.
So it’s high time you started telling your story – here’s more on the why and how.
Why use storytelling?
For starters, humans have such a deep connection with the story form that it’s practically fused into our DNA.
For TV screenwriting guru John Yorke, ‘story structure is hardwired into human perception: all stories are essentially the same because they reflect the way we make sense of the world’.
Story structure can manifest itself in many ways – from three and five act forms to the 12 steps of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. But in every instance, three essential elements emerge – a hero meets their opposite, somehow absorbs or assimilates it, and is transformed forever by the experience.
So by tapping into a structure that customers across disparate cultures have innately recognised for millennia, your marketing merges with their deep-seated desires to answer life’s most perplexing questions.
Storytelling is also a great way to set you apart from your competitors because your story, and the way you tell it, should be unique to your business.
By sharing your brand story in brilliantly authentic and original ways, you’ll dynamically differentiate yourself with messaging that’s original and authentic
Additionally, a good story told well evokes a strong emotional reaction from readers and this is particularly important in marketing, where 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious.
Sharing your business journey with your customers brings you closer to them, breathes life into your brand and transforms it into a tangible entity that customers can relate to.
How to use storytelling
It’s clearly worth sharing your brand story, but how exactly do you do incorporate storytelling into your content?
Start by approaching your business story in the same way you would with a work of fiction – define the key players in your business journey and describe them convincingly to your audience.
For instance, you can publish eye-catching staff profiles on your website that blend personal and professional background facts. By presenting everyone from the founder and CEO to frontline staff as four dimensional humans with desires, drives and dreams, your customers have a cast of characters to empathise with at every twist and turn.
Aligning your stories with your business mission and values can also prove effective. So if you prize innovation above all, tell them about burning the midnight oil for weeks on end to perfect a new product. Consequently, your described actions are exemplifying a dedication to core values, which is more potent than merely declaring your commitment to your mission – demonstrating the ‘show don’t tell’ approach that supports sublime storytelling.
And since the best stories provoke strong emotions from readers, you need an inciting incident to instantly hook customers into your tale, like explaining the eureka moment that initially inspired you to invent your product, and perhaps an explanation of the personal and professional challenges you faced in bringing it to market.
Don’t forget that highlighting your failings along the way can be beneficial too – everyone likes an underdog that has its day and every hero slays dragons before emerging victorious.
Finally, for a formal storytelling structure that might help you identify gaps in your content and decide where different forms may mould into your story arc and narrative, take a look at the Content Marketing Institute’s Brand Hero’s Journey.
A continuing drama
If you get to grips with story structure and use it to connect with customers, your business could last as long as continuing dramas like Corrie and EastEnders.
From waxing lyrical about the Big Bang moment when your brand burst into existence, to your evolutionary struggles, moments of existential angst and endless quest to satisfy demand in a constantly changing marketplace, your audience will await each new episode with bated breath.
When you want you and your customers to live happily ever after, you need to commit to telling and reiterating your brand story in endlessly creative and engaging ways.