3 Things That Make for Great Storytelling in Content Marketing

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Every brand publisher and content marketer is a storyteller these days. That’s because our brains are wired to connect with compelling stories, making the information in those stories more engaging. Studies even show that messages delivered as stories are 22X more memorable than facts.

Brand storytelling also leads to marketing ROI. After analyzing the impact of brand storytelling on the financial performance of 42 publicly traded companies, researchers found brand storytelling to have a significantly greater impact on brand engagement than traditional advertising. As a result, companies that used storytelling earned 1,900% more social mentions than traditional branding/advertising messages.

But while everyone is trying to reap the business benefits of storytelling, it’s clear which brands have a real knack for it. Here are three things we’ve identified that make great storytelling in content marketing with examples from successful brands.

Problem solving: Under Armour
Content marketing stands out from traditional marketing due to its intense focus on customer needs and how products and solutions can solve their problems. This can be in the form of tutorials or how-to content that users are likely to search for, but problem solving can also be the core pillar of a brand’s story. Rather than emphasize the features and benefits of your product or solution as your brand story, focus on your customer’s problem and how your brand can help or inspire them to overcome a challenge.

Under Armour’s #IWillWhatIWant campaign is a great example of storytelling designed to solve problems and challenges. In this case, Under Armor used storytelling to respond to cultural perceptions of the brand while addressing a known challenge with its womenswear division. Under Armor has been perceived as an extremely masculine brand and struggled to design and market female apparel in a way that was empowering, stylish and appealing. They developed a content strategy that focused on female strength and endurance, featuring ballet dancer Misty Copeland, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, supermodel Gisele Bundchen and others. The content showcased these athletes’ stories and how they overcame adversity to become some of the most successful female athletes in their fields.  

3 Things That Make for Great Storytelling in Content Marketing

Connection: Unilever
Effective storytelling helps consumers connect with your brand by creating an emotional response that triggers empathy. When consumers feel empathy toward a brand, they build a social connection with it and identify with your brand, allowing them to be fully engaged in your story. This helps them dig deeper to understand what your brand can offer and can take action.

Unilever’s Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was extremely successful at helping consumers build a connection with a brand using empathy. The aim of the campaign was to “educate and inspire girls on a wider definition of beauty and to make them feel more confident about themselves.” The story connected with its audience’s deep concerns about their appearance and self confidence and addressed the insecurity and self-esteem issues of young women. Customers could empathize with this, and therein connect with the brand’s story. The outcome of the story was to inspire customers to feel good about the way they are, which would lead them to share the story with others.

3 Things That Make for Great Storytelling in Content Marketing

Information: Simple
Our data shows that consumers strongly prefer content that informs and educates as opposed to content that purely entertains or inspires. This is why content marketers should be striving to create more educational and informative content in the form of how-to content, tutorials, recipes or data-driven content to attract and engage audiences. But how does educational content make for great storytelling? It starts with having a strong voice and brand point of view that permeates each branded asset and channel.

We love how Simple tells great stories to share its modern viewpoint on banking and personal finance. The blog features content on everything from money and budgeting tips to industry insights to true, human-centered stories on personal growth, wealth and finance.

Check out our infographic on The Science of Storytelling for more insight on how consumers connect with content.