Once upon a time…
What are you in the mood for? Something to make you laugh, smile or cry perhaps (I’ll try to avoid the latter)? Something with a moral takeaway? These days, storytelling isn’t just about entertainment – it’s a strategic priority for brands that want to emotionally engage with their consumers.
Our clients are always asking us to help them tell a story – to optimise brand engagement and to better connect with their audience. And for good reason…
Just consider the last campaign you told a friend or colleague about. I bet it was one that struck a chord with you on some level – be it a character you felt a connection with or a scenario you could relate to. Stories – big and small, happy and sad – are one of the most powerful and compelling tools used to drive brand loyalty. As Fast Company recently noted, it's a scientific fact that we all love a good story.
A novel approach
Who didn’t wipe away a tear (or two) after watching the 2011 John Lewis Christmas ad (which still can’t be beaten in my opinion)? Or what about Virgin Atlantic’s "Flying in the Face of Ordinary" ad that showcased employees who go above and beyond to deliver exceptional customer experiences, every day?
While both of these examples are a few years old now, the timeless theme of storytelling continues as more and more brands realise that spinning a good yarn – and making it customer-centric, relevant and, above all, personal – is crucial in developing their identity and getting their message across.
Show and tell
So what’s the key to successful storytelling? Who does it really well? Apple, Cadbury and Walkers came out on top last summer according to a poll commissioned by Aesop. For me, this year’s clear winner is Cadbury. The company’s “Free The Joy” campaign kicked off back in January with a Logistics Manager being put on hold and lip-syncing to Baccara’s Yes Sir, I Can Boogie – and now they’ve gone and got James Corden involved (the happiest face ever). By showing how their products turn everyday scenarios into spontaneous moments of joy, they connect with their audience and really bring the brand experience to life (after all, who doesn’t break into song when Dairy Milk is involved?).
“Showing” is seemingly what it’s all about. Don’t just “tell” the story. Characters are key (need I mention meerkats?) to conveying drama, emotion and, ultimately, brand personality. Bassett’s cleverly uses its packaging to explain how Liquorice Allsorts were invented after a salesman accidentally dropped a tray of samples in 1899. And design itself can be used to inspire a narrative – to turn inanimate objects into personalities capable of evoking the most surprising emotions. Like Aether’s “thinking” Wi-Fi Cone speaker, which certainly captured the imagination of the team at The Telegraph last week…
It would seem that great storytelling really does take all sorts.
- Brand value