It’s no secret that social media has changed the marketing game. Your brand can reach someone with just the click of a “post” button – not to mention the fact that you’re able to get more data than ever before on your audience’s habits.
But it takes smart strategy and creativity to bring your brand to life for your target audiences online. After all, it’s going to take more convincing than just sharing your product and saying “buy this!”
This is where your brand’s story comes in: Your audience wants to know more about you as a brand, who you are and what you stand for. You need to be able to tell a story and bring your products to life in the context of that story. Not only does this paint more of a picture of your business, but it also builds an affinity between your audience and your brand, as well as the product itself. In this post, we’re diving into some of our top tips for using storytelling in your brand, so that you can create a real connection between your audience and your brand.
1. Let Your Brand’s Voice Do The Talking
How many posts do you scroll past before you actually stop and read a caption? Probably too many to count. But there’s more to getting someone’s thumb to stop than an eye catching photo. Your caption - or ad copy or page titles or whatever marketing collateral you’re writing - should be a distinct representation of your brand and should have a unique voice.
Your brand voice brings your brand to life for your audience, making it sound more like a human (and less like AI). Humans are wired for connection and people are more likely to trust a brand that sounds personal. A brand voice that is a consistent, human voice will lead consumers to trust a brand – and over time, that trust will build your brand’s authority in the market.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the right keywords or throw other best practices out the window – but instead, apply your brand’s voice to those best practices and you’ll show your audience right where they fit within your brand’s identity.
Let’s look at Slack. Slack is a digital HQ, designed around communication and connection. With both of those foundational for human needs, Slack has to have a brand voice that feels personal and makes their product feel authentic to who they are. Their voice is clear, developed and shows their personality. They are also consistent in using it across all of their communication – from social media to their website and beyond.
Their social media is one great example of how they bring this voice to life. How often do you find yourself saying phrases in the workplace like, “let’s circle back” or you’ll “bump that email”? We all have overused catchphrases, which is what makes this post feel so authentic – Slack understands their audience’s overuse of corporate jargon, so they use it as an opportunity to engage their audience. By identifying the existence of “collaboration catchphrases” in the workplace and then playfully putting together a poll, Slack is embodying their brand voice.
Source: Slack LinkedIn
Another way their brand voice comes to life is in the FAQ section of their website. They bring their consistent brand voice to the copy, outlining the answers in a personal, conversational tone. Slack isn’t afraid to own their personality, rejecting standardized FAQ jargon to provide their audience with answers that feel more personal. They very clearly know exactly who they are targeting, understanding how their audience communicates and then their likely pain points. Together, this consistency in their conversational (and oftentimes humorous) brand voice and their ability to continuously tie it back to their product and mission builds a trust with their audience to let them know they are committed to helping you break down common communication barriers in the workplace.
Read more from three brands using storytelling in their marketing and how you can implement that for your own brand.
Another example of a humanized brand voice is GoPro. Their voice and personality show up throughout their marketing as they use actual user-generated content from their customers of how the product can be (and is!) used.
Source: GoPro Instagram
Sharing photos and videos of their product in action on their social channels demonstrates how brand voice extends beyond the actual words you write – it also includes the content your brand is actively sharing or creating. GoPro shares photos and videos from customers using the product in action, providing real faces of people who trust GoPro’s product. This creates authenticity and connection for their audience within that content. In addition, their content builds a story of the people using their product in adventures worldwide, drawing you right into their mission and letting you know they are a brand you can trust when it comes to adventure.
2. Remember That Storytelling Is Not Just Selling
Okay, hear us out. We know your goal is to make a sale. But content that doesn’t always have a direct pitch still serves an important purpose. While you need to be able to make a compelling case for your product, it’s just as valuable to use storytelling throughout your customer journey to build a relationship with your audience. After all, you can’t go right in and ask a prospective customer to try out a demo. You need to build that relationship with your audience to establish authority with them – use your brand voice to dive into topics that you know will resonate with your audience!
Then, use content to move your audience through the sales journey. Blend storytelling while introducing the idea of your product as you move them through the funnel, building a relationship and giving context for your product along the way. Let’s take a closer look at what content through the sales funnel can look like.
Top of Funnel Storytelling
At the top of the funnel, use storytelling to bring your future customer in. Identify a frustration or consequence from a problem they might be having. Draw upon what you’re hearing people talk about in the market as a starting place for this and give some examples or insight on how to approach the frustration they might be having, which will also help your audience see they aren’t alone. This starts to build that relationship with your future customer, because you’re demonstrating that you know what they might be facing.
Middle of Funnel Storytelling
Once you’ve drawn in your prospective customer and they’re moving into the middle of the funnel, create content that talks about a specific problem or opportunity. Use storytelling to outline the problem, connect your audience to it and then dive deeper by providing ideas for solutions to the problem. Your solutions should overlap with what your product aims to solve (and you can mention that!), but you don’t have to make the hard sell just yet.
Bottom of Funnel Storytelling
As your prospective customer moves into the bottom of the funnel, you want to tell the story of your product and how it is the best solution to their problem. You can do this in a variety of ways, including creating content that specifically highlights features of your product that address their problem or sharing stories from customers who used your product to solve a similar situation. At the bottom of the funnel, you also want your content to be encouraging a potential buyer to take the next step in getting a demo or setting up a conversation with a member of your sales team.
If you use storytelling throughout your customer’s journey, by the time they’re seeing a sales pitch, you’ll already have a relationship with them and chances are you’ve gotten them excited about your product. Want a good example of where storytelling is used well? Take a look at Airbnb. Airbnb leverages storytelling to draw in their audience, as they focus on stories of exploring the world, drawing future hosts and guests into the experiences they can have when they travel with Airbnb.
Airbnb’s Brand Storytelling Example
At the top of their sales funnel, Airbnb uses storytelling to address certain fears or feelings their audience might be having.
One example of this is in an ad they ran in 2021, which told a story of some “shaggy guests” enjoying a getaway at an Airbnb and highlighted all of the activities they did while they were there. At the end of the story, we see the shaggy guests turn into a human family as they walk out the door, meant to highlight that though we are different (and may be staying in someone else’s home), we are also all alike.
Although there is a quick pitch for people to become an Airbnb host, they blend it together with storytelling to share a subtle yet powerful story about the values of humankind. Airbnb uses this ad to tap into the potential fear someone might have of new situations, environments or interactions and they tell a story that provides an example of why that fear might not be necessary.
In the middle of their sales funnel, Airbnb uses storytelling to name an opportunity and then provide themselves as a potential solution within that opportunity.
A recent ad presents the idea of an empty nest as an opportunity to have an Airbnb. The ad clearly defines that opportunity by presenting a situation people may be able to relate to (having a kid going off to college) and then reframing it as an opportunity to have an Airbnb.
In a very short amount of time, Airbnb has used this ad to tell a story of having extra space in your home and connected it to a potential solution of hosting that space on Airbnb. This is a storyline that will likely resonate with many viewers of the ad and conveys the value of Airbnb in a very natural way.
Towards the bottom of their sales funnel, Airbnb tells a very quick story, recognizing that someone who is already at this stage needs less convincing of the value of the product and needs to be taken to the product itself quickly.
Take a look at this Instagram post from Airbnb:
Source: Airbnb Instagram
Airbnb has categories available as a way for people to find unique places to stay. With the understanding that the customer they are talking to with this content has likely already decided to take a trip, Airbnb is making the case in this post that they have the best offering for this person’s stay.
The customer they are talking to has probably decided to take a trip to a warmer location. Airbnb knows there are a lot of options of places you could go with warm weather, so they highlight the “Amazing Pools” category to help set their product offering apart from other places that customer might be looking. The visual creative in this post tells even more of the story, as the diver travels through each pool and highlights just how many differing options Airbnb has to offer. Though the story is quick, through this post, Airbnb makes a very clear case for what sets them apart from all of the places a traveler could stay just based on the variety of offerings alone.
While everyone’s storytelling will look different depending on their sales funnel, it’s important to remember that the story plays an important role in your customer’s journey. Use it to first build a relationship and establish trust with your audience and then take them deeper by connecting the story to your product. And we would be willing to bet that if you do, you’ll see more buyers ready to buy at the bottom of the funnel!
3. Honesty (And Authenticity) is the Best Policy
In the age of social media, it’s common to see brands and people curating perfect feeds online. And it makes sense – as a brand, you don’t want to show yourself as anything less than great. After all, if you’re not the best at what you do then why would anyone buy from you?
But you’ll also see that a lot of customers will trust a brand that’s more honest. When you’re being authentic, the audience knows that you’re not just trying to sell them something. Instead, you’re building a relationship with them and showing them exactly who you are.
How does this work in practice? Burt’s Bees has baked transparency and authenticity into everything they do. And the brand’s consumers can see that laid out in their impact reports. These reports highlight the goals that they’ve hit and goals they’re working towards, demonstrating their brand’s commitment to transparency and showing up authentically.
But they didn’t just stumble into this. Burt’s Bees knows who their customer base is, and with that knowledge, they have crafted a story that will resonate with their target audience. Their social media features real people using their products, the “why” behind the products, and more about their brand as a whole. That includes sharing about their brand co-founder Burt Shavitz.
Source: Burt’s Bees Instagram
In this particular reel, they highlight society’s long history of unachievable beauty standards and how that was an intentional part of the development of their logo. It’s an authentic way of telling their story – and an example of a brand going against the grain of perfection to deliver a message they know their audience will love.
Interested in learning more about how brands navigate authenticity within crisis? Check out lessons learned from these seven brands.
Now, Pick Up The Pen And Tell Your Brand Story
Storytelling can make a difference when it comes to your brand. When you tell a story, you’re making a real connection with your audience, helping them see themselves in your brand and, ultimately, why they should buy from you.
Looking for more tips to help your brand stand out? Head to this blog on defining your core brand values.
Jenny Han is a writer for Academized Reviews and Essay Services. She covers marketing and brand building for new businesses. She’s also a blogger for Assignment Writing Service.