The Power of Storytelling

By September 6, 2017Stories

The way in which we communicate has come a long way. From grunting at each other and carving on cave walls to barely having to open our mouths to tell a work colleague about our weekend as we furiously type over WhatsApp.

But our human nature hasn’t changed. Our desire to hear and share stories has remained after all this time. Storytelling has existed before the alphabet was even dreamt of. So how and why has this age-old tradition not only survived but remained at the very forefront of our daily lives?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, a story is:

“An account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.”

Stories evoke emotion, they’re memorable, they entertain us and they can spread far and wide. That is exactly why storytelling has survived and why marketers have been using them to their advantage for decades…

In 2007, two designers living in San Francisco were struggling to pay rent on their apartment. A large design conference was coming to the city and they knew hotels would fill up fast so they decided to turn their loft into a lodging space. They didn’t want to post the space on Craigslist as they thought it was too impersonal. So, they quickly put together a simple website with pictures of the space and the promise of a home-cooked breakfast in the morning… And so, Airbnb was born.

By 2016, over 140 million guests had stayed at an Airbnb listing and over 3 million properties were listed on the site worldwide. This incredible achievement was the result of Airbnb absolutely nailing their brand storytelling.

Firstly, Airbnb created a symbol for its logo, a symbol of belonging that they called Bélo. It was created around the idea that Airbnb stood for more than travel – belonging stands at the core of the company.

The #LiveThere campaign was Airbnb’s first major global campaign. It addressed the growing dissatisfaction around the standardised tourist offerings and gave tourists a sense of belonging in that they could ‘live like a local’ while staying at an Airbnb property.

Airbnb build authenticity by using true stories from their audience, as well as evoking emotion through a sense of belonging which build messages about the brand that people can connect with. And we’re right back to human nature… people remember things they care about. It’s a simple as that.

So, what can you achieve through brand storytelling?

  • Increase engagement with your target audience
  • Create a loyal community
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Differentiate your brand

A story transforms your product or service from a commodity to a brand that people support, follow, love and share! That’s all well and good I hear you cry… but what are the elements of a good brand story?

Here’s our guide to brand storytelling:

The Hero – the most successful brand storytelling comes from putting the customer at the heart of the story. Your story must relate to the customer journey for it to be authentic and believable.

The Stake – Aligning the goals of your story with the goals of your customer helps to create a personal connection. What is at stake for your customer? And how can you make their wants and needs align with the story?

The Adventure – The story must explore what your brand stands for and how it differs from your competition; an opportunity to deliver your unique value proposition and express your brand promise.

Storytelling is the most powerful tool to make your brand come alive in the minds of your target audience. A story is a journey and that’s exactly what you have to do with your product or service; create a story for your product or service that your audience can relate to and the journey begins.