Skip to main content

Digital Marketing

What Makes a Good (Brand) Story?

What makes a good story? Is it a dynamic hero, or a surprising plot? Credible conflict, or a fascinating theme? It’s hard to imagine that anything but divine intervention could be responsible for a hugely popular novel or film, and harder still to quantify the level of adoration that meets some YouTube video, blog posts, and Vines.
In recent years, we’ve seen the digital marketing industry embrace the term “storytelling” and use it to describe virtually any piece of branded content that emerges online. NewsCred has predicted that, “Existing marketing silos will fall apart as content, data and technology emerge as the only way for brands to reach consumers through storytelling.” With publishers like The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Condé Nast investing in branded content studios that produce sponsored posts and native ads, there’s pressure on this strategy to deliver.
In theory, it should. Stories have the power to evoke an emotional response that, in marketing, can result in brand affinity and loyalty. For this reason, marketers are taking a closer look at storytelling in an effort to understand its nuances and craft better content.
There’s no secret formula for success. But there are a few guidelines that, when followed, can pilot virtually any story into consumers’ hearts.
Every brand story needs conflict. Think of conflict as the thing that keeps audiences perched on the edge of their seats. Conflict is the problem that your hero has to overcome, and the tension that keeps the narrative moving forward. In Jack Daniel’s Bar Stories, a collection of short stories and videos amassed from bars across the country, the conflict takes many forms: a bartender who’s asked by two female customers to keep a strange secret, the appearance of an African lion in a pub in Iowa. Conflict can be bizarre or true-to-life, fiction or non-fiction, as long as it has audiences wondering what will happen next.
Make a hero of your customer. Brand stories might be designed to create a positive perception of your brand, but make your company or product the hero and you’ll come off looking self-absorbed. Instead, take a cue from London’s John Lewis and its #MontyThePenguin holiday video. In it, a little boy becomes a hero to his stuffed penguin and imaginary friend when he gives it a companion – purchased at a John Lewis store – for Christmas. Little wonder that the video has racked up more than 22 million YouTube views.

A story has to make you care. This missive comes courtesy of Andrew Stanton, filmmaker and writer of every “Toy Story” movie along with WALL-E” and “Finding Nemo.” In his TED Talk  on storytelling, Stanton implies that every storyteller should strive to make viewers connect with the message and become invested in the outcome, such that they can’t turn away. Storytelling is about “wonder,” he says. When a story generates that in a meaningful way, audiences can’t help but care.
As with any marketing tactic, your ability to produce something effective is directly tied to your grasp of the medium. To write a brand story that entertains and persuades, give it the characteristics that have proven so successful for books and movies. Consumers will take it from there.

Perficient Author

More from this Author

Follow Us