Storytelling is a crucial part of any marketing strategy, even in today’s digital world. With so much content being streamed and downloaded into our daily content diet, it’s more important than ever to distinguish yourself in a sea of competitors. We may be centuries from the days when sharing stories around the fire was essential to survival, but people still think narratively.
Across the board, businesses are realizing the power of storytelling. It’s become the hot new skill in the business world. The irony of today’s world is that there are so many more avenues to disseminate your brand’s story, but it’s even harder to get people to pay attention.
Brands not only need to tell their story but also “activate” customers in order to tell their stories for them. Let’s take a look at four brands, big and small, that are taking this active approach and crushing it with their video storytelling.
When it comes to soap, there’s not much potential for excitement in marketing. That’s why, back in the early days of television, many soap companies advertised during drama-filled shows that soon became known as “soap operas.” The target demographic was mainly women back then, and to this day, many advertising campaigns are centering “real” stories from women.
When Dove started its “real women” campaign back in 2004, the company’s focus on redefining beauty led to a 700 percent increase in the sale of Dove products in the first half of that year. In 2013, Dove created an online ad in which a real-life FBI sketch artist drew two portraits: one based on a woman’s description of herself and another based on a stranger’s description. The difference was apparent, and the ad attracted over 66 million views.
Dove knows that stories can be a powerful motivator for men as well, and Dove has started including men in their brand storytelling in the past few years. Dove created the hashtag #RealStrength, designed to appeal to men’s macho sensibilities while allowing them to admit there is a softer, more caring underside.
This was illustrated beautifully with Dove’s Men+Care ad campaign “There to Care,” released last year. The message was that taking care of yourself and those around you is a sign of strength today.
The lesson for other brands is that even if you have an uncompelling product, you can engineer a positive feeling around the product itself by being authentic and telling stories. Dove’s product is simple, and so is its message.
One of Airbnb’s strengths is its ability to create stories through the connections people make using its service. The appeal of Airbnb is getting to know the city on a more personal level than you might if you were to stay at a hotel. Airbnb utilizes video storytelling to show the “who” behind the places you may be staying.
Instead of having Airbnb tell you their story, it has its customers share their own. They even have a section of their site dedicated to “Stories from the Airbnb Community.” The company rebranded itself recently with its “Belong Anywhere” campaign, which featured short films about the lives of Airbnb hosts and what staying with them could be like.
Airbnb’s most recent campaign shows a couple, Saif and Kareena, as they visit different locales throughout the world, including Windsor, England. This short video (with over seven million views) shows how their Airbnb rental allowed them to do all sorts of interesting things while taking a trip to Windsor. This type of storytelling is short, sweet, and to the point. It says, “Look how much fun we’re having, and you can too if you use Airbnb.”
Sometimes simple stories about your products work best. Take Everlane, for instance. Everlane is a digital apparel brand that first built a strong following on Snapchat before migrating the bulk of their marketing to Instagram Stories. Their previous experience in the Snapchat format has given them a leg up on the competition when coming over to Instagram.
What’s the key to Everlane’s Instagram success? Their short and simple behind-the-scenes stories about their products. Everlane prides itself in being incredibly transparent about its material sourcing and merchandise pricing, right down to the $.11 it takes to transport the materials.
They also refuse to markup products as much as other brands, thus creating a sense of corporate honesty. Everlane even hosts a “Transparency Tuesday” event on its Instagram story to showcase anything from product development to job opportunities within the company.
These types of marketing events on social media actively engage the consumer and create a devoted community around Everlane’s products. Each week, Everlane takes to Instagram Stories to ask consumers for questions. Everlane team members then answer those questions in a fun and engaging way while showcasing new styles being released that week.
Consumers feel like they are getting exclusive deals. Everlane achieves all this by encouraging consumers to help tell the brand’s story and promote the core ethics of the company.
The New York Times
You may not expect the New York Times to be innovative in its digital storytelling. Yet, they routinely use Instagram Stories as a way to complement their news articles with new visuals and interesting perspectives. The story previews act as an in-between for their long-form content, also available in Instagram’s web browser.
The prestigious newspaper utilizes its high-quality photography and intriguing overlaid text in order to hook the viewer and make them read more articles. The New York Times’ T Brand is also launching a full-service content studio. The Times realized that integrating their digital content with print content was their way to survive the digitization of media, and they’ve seen results.
How can you make this work for your brand? If you have written content, then promoting it on Instagram stories or even Facebook with powerful imagery can bring new life to your content. Each one of the brands mentioned above is embracing the digital age and the opportunity for video to create engaging storytelling, and your brand can too.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a big brand with millions in the marketing budget or a small brand pinching pennies. What matters is telling a good story. Create an engaging video that conveys emotion and shows your product’s impact on people’s lives—in 2018, authenticity sells.