There is a revolution upon us.

While content marketing has long been a key player in the marketing world, we’re currently seeing a fundamental shift in how it’s used that can redefine the success of businesses and individuals alike.

Embracing this revolution is paramount for staying relevant, reaching target audiences effectively, and establishing a meaningful and enduring connection in a world where communication channels and consumer preferences are constantly evolving.

In our recent Content Summit, we heard from key players in the industry (namely Ann Handley from MarketingProfs, Maury Rogow from Rip Media Group, Sally Bollig from Etsy and Karla Hernández Zaldívar from Booking.com) about some of the latest trends and innovations in the content space, with technologies such as video and AI taking center stage.

But in this era of information overload, those who adapt to innovative communication and content strategies are not just keeping pace with change—they are pioneering new avenues for engagement, influence and success.

Let’s take a look at how your brand can leverage storytelling for success.

The Power of Compelling Brand Narratives

Consumers are no longer swayed by conventional advertising methods; instead, they seek meaningful interactions and narratives that align with their values. Research has found that 71% of customers recommend a brand based on their emotional connection to it, and this shift in consumer behavior underscores the need for a departure from conventional marketing strategies toward storytelling that is not only innovative and captivating, but also genuine and reflective of a brand's ethos. Whether you’re talking to people in B2C or B2B industries, you’re still talking to people. And this is why your story is so important.

Brand storytelling is a powerful tool that goes beyond traditional advertising, creating authentic connections between businesses and their audiences. It’s where companies narrate the essence, values and unique identity of their brand in a compelling and relatable way, encouraging their audience to be a part of it.  

It’s not just about promoting products or services, it delves a bit deeper into the emotional and human aspects that resonate with consumers. In this narrative-driven approach, the brand becomes a character in a larger story, inviting customers to be part of a shared experience rather than just passive observers.

Marketing is a mix of art and intent. It shouldn’t just be about numbers and thinking about things from a factual standpoint, it should be artistic too. The best thing about storytelling is it’s a mix of both of those things - we want to drive results but we also want to connect with the people we care the most about reaching.

While we want to be authentic in our communications, we also can’t overthink it. It’s important - especially during the early stages - not to focus too much on the structure, but instead on the actual story.

Another expert, Maury Rogow, CEO at Rip Media Group, told us that people now expect more and more from the brands they love, and the interactions they have need to be excellent. The distinction between real value and perceived value becomes evident when someone invests in your narrative, serving as a clear indicator that they not only recognize the difference, but they also like and trust you.

The Psychology of Consumer Connection

As the marketing landscape continually evolves, there is a heightened demand for more substantial, more daring, and more audacious stories. In a world oversaturated with content and messages, it is the narratives that stand out—those that capture attention, evoke emotion, and leave a lasting impression—that truly resonate.

Airbnb is a great example of this, with their “Belong Anywhere” campaign using emotional storytelling to bring about a sense of adventure and discovery. They used customer stories in their campaign from all walks of life, showing how Airbnb connects people across the world with one another and builds communities.

With 68% of consumers saying that brand stories influence their purchasing decisions, it’s clear that there is a psychological element to brand storytelling. It's not just about selling a product; it's about crafting narratives that tap into universal emotions, desires, and motivations.

By incorporating psychological aspects into storytelling, brands can create a resonant chord with their audience, triggering emotions that go beyond the immediate gratification of acquiring a product. Whether it's the allure of nostalgia, the satisfaction of overcoming challenges, or the aspiration for a better future, psychological storytelling creates a shared emotional space where consumers feel understood, valued, and intricately connected to the brand.

Maury Rogow explored five specific emotional levers that hold the most power when it comes to telling stories - STUFF.

  • Sexy: make it exciting and sizzling
  • Touching: make it nostalgic
  • Unique/unexpected: everyone remembers a unique story
  • Funny: make your audience laugh
  • Fear: give people a deadline, a fear of missing out – create FOMO

When you use at least one of these, your brand ensures that their story is memorable for their audience, and one that they want to be a part of.

By exploring how people connect with stories over products and integrating psychological elements into these narratives, brands unlock the potential for profound consumer connection. It's not merely about showcasing features and functionalities; it's about crafting stories that reflect the human experience. In doing so, brands cease to be mere entities offering products; they become storytellers weaving tales that evoke emotions, inspire loyalty, and forge lasting connections.

As Ann Handley pointed out, new technologies such as AI will allow for more mediocrity at scale, with brands capable of pushing out endless streams of useless content to their audience en masse. But the brands that can master the art of storytelling are the ones that will capture people’s attention – with AI acting as a support system to help marketing and communication teams become more efficient at sharing their stories, instead of spreading dull messaging at speed.

5 Examples of great brand storytelling

Want to get some inspiration from brands that do it well? Take a look at our top 5 examples of great emotive brand storytelling.

1. Parisian Love - Google

This heart-wrenching advertisement doesn’t even have any real characters in it, but what it does have is a story. Taking us on a journey through one person’s trip to France that changed their future, we’re reminded just how much we lean on search engines like Google to assist us in our everyday lives.

2. Find Your Greatness - Nike

This inspirational video shows us that you don’t always need a huge budget to get your point across. Sometimes you just need a good message.

3. Everything You Touch - Skittles

A good story is all about being memorable, and what could be more memorable than this advert from 2008. While they might not tell you much about the product itself, you know this is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

4. Like a Girl - Always

We love the message of this advert, showing us how important it is to promote confidence in girls from a young age.

5. Moments - Volkswagen

Although this advert was to tell us about Volkswagen’s new safety features, they do this in a way that really engages the audience, making them understand exactly why they’re so important.

Building Communities and Brand Success through Social Relationships

Community engagement on social media is a cornerstone of effective brand storytelling, providing a platform for meaningful interactions and fostering a sense of connection among users. In the digital age, consumers don't just want to be passive recipients of information; they crave engagement, seeking a two-way conversation with the brands they support.

Research has found that customers who have had positive social interactions with brands online are 71% more likely to recommend them, and 90% of people with a social account use them as a way of communicating with brands.

Actively involving your audience in your brand narrative not only strengthens the sense of community but also turns them into advocates and co-creators of the story you're telling.

One practical strategy for building and scaling engaged communities on social media is by using video content. Videos have proven to be a dynamic and highly shareable medium that captures attention and encourages participation. Whether it's behind-the-scenes glimpses, product demonstrations, or user-generated content challenges–videos provide a visually compelling way to convey your brand story and encourage community members to share their own narratives.

In fact, video is reported to have a 92.3% audience reach among internet users worldwide, with product videos becoming a go-to for B2B businesses. Tania Rahman, Social Media Director at Fast Company and Sean Duggan, Filmmaker and Advertising Executive at September Swell Productions have shared with us some of the best ways to use video to reach target audiences.

One of the key takeaways from this discussion was to consider user behavior on social media from the very beginning - think how your audience will view and engage with your content across different platforms so you can plan your videos accordingly.

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When we discussed how to build audiences at scale with Sally Bollig from Etsy and Karla Hernández Zaldívar from Booking.com, they pointed out how important it is to be genuine and transparent in your communications. Consumers are now hyper-aware of what marketing and advertising activity looks like. Audiences are all more attuned to it, especially Gen-Z. By creating content that people believe in, you engage with them on higher levels.

There are a tonne of businesses out there that are doing great jobs at leveraging their social platforms to communicate with their customers. LEGO is a great example, using a mix of community offers, user-generated content and a strong social media presence to build and nurture a strong online community with their audience and fans.

Challenging & Evolving Your Brand Narratives: Strategies for Your Brand

In the contemporary landscape of brand management, the concept of challenging and evolving brand narratives is crucial. No longer confined to static and dull storytelling, brands are recognizing the need for narratives that are dynamic, adaptable, and capable of resonating with a rapidly changing audience. This shift emphasizes that a brand's story doesn’t have to stay the same, but can be shaped and refined over time.

One of the key ways to understand what stories your audience will respond well to is by using social listening. Expert, Melanie Gaboriault, Hootsuite’s Senior Global Head of Corporate Communications explains that your customers are telling you their needs, wants and their biggest pain points all day long. It comes down to us to listen and really tap into our social media teams to get this data.

Experimentation really is the linchpin in the evolution of brand narratives. Brands that experiment with diverse storytelling formats, channels, and tones are the catalysts for innovation and learning within the industry. With real-time analytics and consumer feedback nestled into the storytelling process, brands can gauge the success of their experiments at every step, meaning improvements can be made constantly.

But while it may be tempting to jump on new trends just to be part of the conversation, it’s important that you align your stories and conversations with your brand values. This was a key point raised by Sally Bolig from Etsy and Karla Hernández Zaldívar, from Booking.com, who explained, you should focus on  finding topics and issues where you can lead or add value. Make sure your messaging is relevant to your audience and communities - and remember, not every brand has to say something on every topic.

Your step-by-step guide on how to challenge and reshape your brand narrative:

Step 1. Understand your starting point

To know where you need to get to, you first need to understand where you are now. Conduct a thorough audit of your current brand narrative, taking into account the key elements, messaging and storytelling approach that define your brand now, and where you want to go with it.

Now it’s time to take a deep-dive into your target audience’s preferences, behaviors, and needs. Have a think about what’s happening in the market too - what do consumers expect from a brand like yours? How will this inform your narrative?

Step 3. Identify strengths and weaknesses

It’s useful to understand what’s currently good about your brand narrative, and where you think there are weaknesses. Pinpoint any areas that need refinement to better align with your objectives and the expectations of your customers.

Step 4. Explore emerging opportunities

Keeping up-to-date with different trends in your industry is also crucial. This could be technological advancements or cultural shifts - anything that can help you to differentiate who you are as a company from everyone else in your field.

Step 5. Craft a compelling story arc

Your story should be something that doesn’t just reflect who you are now, but also the journey you’ve been on. There should be a beginning, middle and end, reflecting your evolution and engaging in the emotions of your audience. This is what invites them to be part of that journey.

Step 6. Choose your channels

Now you need to decide how you’re going to amplify your message. Are you using social media? Email? Web? Selecting the right channel for your brand story is a critical decision that can significantly impact how your narrative resonates with your audience. Each channel has its unique strengths and audience demographics, so it's essential to align your brand message with the characteristics of the chosen platform.

Step 7. Choose your format

Whether you choose to promote your story through blog posts, social media updates, podcasts, or video, each format brings its unique strengths. Assess the scalability and versatility of the chosen format to ensure it resonates across diverse platforms. By tailoring your brand story to the right format, you not only enhance its accessibility but also cater to the varied ways your audience engages with content, fostering a deeper connection with your brand.

Video can be a particularly impactful way to promote your story. While it may have seemed like an expensive and out-of-reach option for brands in the past, they can now be created in-house, using AI tools like PlayPlay's AI Video Assistant to make it easier than ever to create an amazing on-brand video in minutes.

Step 8. Be flexible and adaptable

No story is rigid. You need to build flexibility into your storytelling, allowing it to adapt to changing circumstances, feedback and any other opportunities that might come your way. This adaptability ensures that your narrative remains dynamic and responsive to the evolving needs of your audience.

Step 9. Engage the wider team

Don’t forget - your story isn't just about you! It’s about everyone in your business (like your employees) and connected to your business (like your audience), and this process should be a collaborative one. Make sure the relevant people have the opportunity to provide their perspectives and insights, giving a holistic and well-rounded approach.

Step 10. Test your story

Before you schedule a full-scale rollout, test elements of your narrative with internal stakeholders and a selection of your customer base to gauge effectiveness. You can then use this feedback to iterate and refine your narrative further, making sure that it resonates authentically with your audience.

Step 11. Monitor impact

Once you’ve launched, keep a close eye on the performance of your story. Is it reaching the right people? Are they reacting how you’d expect? KPIs such as audience engagement, brand sentiment and sales metrics should always be monitored to get a good understanding of how successful your story is. There’s no shame in needing a bit of tweaking to get it right!

Take charge of your brand story with PlayPlay

Storytelling is a transformative power for any brand. It transcends your products and services, engaging with your audience and helping them to connect with you at a new level. It’s what makes you human, and what helps you stand out from the crowd.

It’s true, your story is your superpower. And you need to tell it. Why not use this as the nudge you need to take a look at your own brand narrative, and how you can develop it into something bigger, bolder and braver with your first brand launch video!

At PlayPlay, we’re all about helping companies tell their story. Our video-creation solution enables businesses to create impactful, engaging and memorable video content in a matter of minutes and in-house. Helping you engage and convert your audience by getting your story and message across in the most efficient and effective way.

Do you want to find out more? Try it for free today.