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What’s your (brand) story?

Shanghai, China, November, 10,2014. Written By Nabil Ibrahim, Edited by Edgar Salmeron, Neat Interactive.

Content Marketing is only good as the story being told. Brand stories are not merely fillers on a website or a brochure, but actual stories carefully crafted to reach audiences at an emotional level. The stories should contain facts, feelings and interpretation of an idea that the audience believes in.

Brands such as Red Bull, Coca-Cola, Colgate, Kraft, and General Electric are now tapping into story-telling; they are the new A-list Hollywood directors that incorporate lifestyle and culture into compelling stories.

On October 14th 2012, Red Bull blew content marketing out of the water when Felix Baumgartner dove from the edge of space for a 128-000-foot free fall. This led to 8 million people watching the live stream on YouTube. Red Bull’s effort was clearly a content-marketing strategy to get people hooked on the Red Bull brand and story. Every marketing panel at every marketing conference talked about Red Bull’s publicity stunt. It was no surprise that they were the undisputed King of Content Marketing in 2012.

The Coca-Cola Company then devised a plan in November 2012 to follow in Red Bull’s steps by turning to content marketing. They rebranded their website and posted culturally relevant content on a daily basis, driving 1.1 million visitors to their site per month. Both Red Bull and the Coca-Cola Company capitalized on story-telling to enhance their brand name, reputation and audience. These stories created strong loyal connections from the customer to the brand.

Oscar award-winning actor and producer Kevin Spacey spoke to 2,600 marketers and said, “Good content marketing is not a crap shoot—it has always been about the story.” So how do we tell stories?
Here are a few steps:

1) Audience

First and foremost, know your target audience. How do they consume media? What situations do they emotionally relate to? Will the story generate their interest? Be culturally relevant to the audience’s lifestyle. Ultimately, your brand has to create solutions or simplify the audience’s life.

2) Emotional Connection

Sephora has transitioned from your typical beauty retailer to something much more important in the eyes of its core customers by creating the perfect emotional connection. Sephora’s website has become all things beauty for 25-34 year old females, where the customers give advice and support to each other on the “Beauty Talk” section of their website. Moreover, Sephora’s digital beauty toolkit includes Instagram, Pinterest and its own iPad app. Sephora is not just a brand name that sells beauty products, but a brand holding an important place in the lives of its customers at an emotional level. People do not buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons.

3) Authenticity

Authenticity requires that you know what your brand stands for. What are your brand values? When creating your story, be true to your brand. Audiences will know when you are not being original especially with everything now posted online and accessible to everyone. If you identify your brand values, then your story will be authentic and you will convey those values to your audience.

4) Provokes Conversation

Develop a conversation with your audience. Ask questions and make compelling stories. Ben and Jerry’s marketing campaign involved audiences sharing their best “euphoric” moment using the hashtag #CaptureEuphoria on Instagram. This created conversation between a community of ice cream lovers and the brand where people felt their voices were part of the story.

5) Tell a bigger story.

Go beyond the brand. Nike’s “Find Greatness” or Adidas’ “Impossible is nothing” theme are not just about running shoes, cleats or workout apparel. Both themes go beyond the brand; they are about motivating and inspiring people to improve and they are about creating emotional resonance. Be bold. Tell a bigger story.

Once upon a time people grew immune to ads. Once upon a time brands began connecting with audiences at a more emotional level by creating brand stories. What will your (brand) story be?

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