What is the importance of storytelling in gaining clientele and brand image?
That was the question I was asked yesterday. Quite a valid question, don’t you think? You read any article on content marketing, and almost all of them would be underscoring the value of storytelling and painting a strong narrative for your content marketing strategy.
This is what a quick Google search on “storytelling + content marketing” threw up.
Storytelling is the future of Content Marketing!
That is the first result. So, why is it that storytelling is being given all this importance?
It can help you connect with your target audience in a way thats more profound, has more permanence, and therefore — immense brand recall!
Have you seen one of those ads that play every second minute during commercials. The ones that are loud, flashy and make no sense? The ones that make you cringe every single time it comes on? Yes, we have all suffered way too many of those.
Now remember the one ad that made you smile. One that made you feel some warmth inside — if even for a fraction of a second. Which one do you think you related to? And even though it would be simply impossible to erase the cringeworthy one off your memory, which one do you think you’ll remember fondly, and one that left a lasting great impression on you?
The reason those rare few ads are able to do that is because of their ability to help us relate to the narrative being painted. Now that is great story telling.
Let me give you a few examples.
One Last Summer — Coca Cola
Your average teenagers sharing their accounts of that last summer they all will spend together before they head off to colleges. Now that is a message that will make the young feel warm and miss the school days of not so distant past, and the adults nostalgic about the times they spent with their childhood friends. Some of them may even pick up the phone to call up a friend they haven’t spoken to in a while. That’s the power of good storytelling.
Was Coke doing it for altruistic reasons? Absolutely not. The product placement was quite visible, sometimes a little bit too much on the nose, but fortunately it did not overshadow the underlying theme. Great ad! Do watch it.
Puppyhood — Purina Puppy Chow
Now this one is my favorite. Purina Canada — I tip my hat to you sir.
Why? Because it is amazing!!! :-D (Okay, I may be slightly biased. I am a dog person, but then who isn’t. And would you just look at that puppy.)
The whole series is all about scenarios anyone with a dog would be able to relate to. Whether it is the pup’s complete and blatant disregard for your personal space, or their food pellets strewn everywhere on the floor, or the pups just going crazy on the grass. And the way it has been portrayed — it is just fantastic!
And the product placement? Absolutely subtle.
“Are you trying to eat my finger? Oh, you must be starving. Let’s get some food”. And then enters the puppy food shots, with no closeup shots of the actual product at any time. Just wonderful. (Okay, maybe half a second of a shot of the package, but it just fits right in as he drops the bag to get some food.)
Why I have been praising it so much? Think about this — it must have been more than 20 months since I last watched these, and had completely forgotten about the brand (We don’t get Purina where I stay, so I could never order from them; otherwise you can bet your dollars on me having been a customer.) So how did I find it for this story right now? And how much time did the search take me? Less than 10 seconds. I just searched for ‘puppyhood’. Now that’s some brand positioning and recall at play.
Anyone who wants to learn how to produce magnificent content, this whole series is a must watch.
Permanent Roommates — Ola (and before that Commonfloor)
Okay, so this one is slightly different. Content creators The Viral Fever were coming up with a web-series and they asked ‘property search portal’ commonfloor to associate with the show. Now, the inital premise of the story made sense for CommonFloor (since the couple were to search for a house to stay at), but that went out of context pretty soon. The show was actually able to find perfect synergy in Uber’s competitor, Ola. It was not just a brand/business sponsoring a web-series. Ola could get integrated within the show. Every time there was a need for a character to travel, whip up the app and book a cab. Sure, the product placement was there (which is why I will place this example in maybe a similar category as Coca-Cola, a rung below the whole Puppyhood series). But the series was well made, had likeable characters, a good plot. So all in all, a good move.
Now, I haven’t watched the whole series. Neither do I have the data on how much did this association work out in Ola’s favor. But if I had to take a bet, I would say:
- Given the popularity of the web-series amongst the youth, Ola would have been able to more or less give them a demo on how they can use different features of the app (old, as well as newly introduced).
- It would have certainly helped Ola gain quite some new users as well.
- The funny “Ola driver” who was more or less a regular cast in some of the episodes I saw — he would have been the topics of many discussions amongst friends discussing the show.
SUCH IS THE POWER OF STORYTELLING
- It helps you talk about your brand without being too invasive about the overall process.
- It buys you additional time that users spend with your content as compared to a traditional advertisement.
- Since there is a story involved (and emotions — whether comic or drama), it leaves a lasting impression.
- Amazing brand recall.
- Done well, it helps you walk your prospective customers through all that you do.
- Creates a persona for the brand. (Watch the Puppyhood series. You will get the vibe that this is a brand that really cares for your puppies)
So, what story are you going to tell to your consumers?