6 Tips for Being a Better Brand Storyteller

From TED talks with a personal spin to NPR darlings, The Moth, storytelling is undoubtedly the branding buzzword du jour, gaining prominence with marketers and agency pros alike. But in an environment where so many people are trying to cut through the noise, how can brands be distinctive in the stories they tell? It’s simpler than you think.

1. Be personal. While the best storytellers aren’t necessarily the best performers, the best stories are almost always about failure, overcoming adversity or facing some seemingly insurmountable challenge. Think about Steve Jobs getting fired from Apple or Avis’s epic second place status campaign. Showing vulnerability may feel iffy for brands, but it can be a relatable way of connecting and tying it back a story format keeps it deeply rooted in a bigger theme and message.

2. Be honest. Transparency is key. If your brand is three years old, trying to go the hand-crafted/ heritage route won’t be authentic. Of course, you can be creative and can even hand over the reins, like GoPro has done by allowing fans to tell their own stories using the product. Just always be true to who you are.

3. Have an arc. As we know, you can’t tell a story in one quick hit. You can shift the sequence of beginning, middle and end, but you need all the parts. That said, start in the action and keep your set up minimal. Moth storytellers are challenged to keep their stories under five minutes (six, if it’s really awesome), so keep things short and sweet.

4. Be specific. It can be easy to speak in sweeping platitudes when it comes to your brand, but you need to get down to the nitty gritty if you want audiences to keep up. Giving details not only helps set the scene, but makes your story feel real and relatable. You can create an engaging dynamic by starting really small and then taking a step back. Which leads us to the next point…

5. Talk about the future you want your audience to envision. Where you want your brand to be in 10 years? Storytelling is about imagination, and when you get let audiences start filling in the blanks on their own, they become part of your story themselves.

6. Having a message is only the start. You need to know when and where to share it (and which medium best fits your story). Would Real Beauty Sketches have had the same resonance as an article published ten years ago, without the context of the full Dove campaign for Real Beauty? Probably not. Whether you’re telling a story that reveals your purpose or proves why you’re unique, delivering the message with the right timing can make the difference between content that’s simply memorable and content that’s remarkable.

 In one of the most watched TED talks of all time, researcher Brene Brown says “stories are just data with a soul,” and now more than ever, brands have the opportunity to turn their own insights into content that inspires audiences and builds loyalty. Stories are cultural and social capital, giving brands a way to be more authentic while showing audiences a glimpse behind the curtain and a view into their future. How can Onespot help tell yours?

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