In a recent Forbes article ‘The Seven Elements Of Great Brand Storytelling’, John Gumas talks us through how brands can use storytelling in their branding, and why it’s such a powerful tool.

Stories are 22 times more memorable than a list of facts.¹

This is important, since being remembered is easier said than done in a world where consumers suffer from ‘information saturation, including branding overload’. Further statistics help to build a case for why storytelling can help with this:

Research from GWI and WARC shows that 52% of Americans surveyed feel too many ads have a negative impact on brand perception. Research from Edelman also indicates that 81% of consumers need to trust the brand they buy from, and a Sprout Social report shows that 77% of consumers buy from brands they follow on social media.

Gumas contends that storytelling is the answer: it engages consumers, inspires trust, and increases brand awareness. 

The better the brand story, the better the chance it will cut through the noise and grab attention.

Here are Gumas’ seven elements of brand storytelling: 

1. Weakness and need. The protagonist has some kind of flaw or an underlying need, such as where to buy car insurance or how to deal with dandruff. Think of your target audience or customer as a protagonist and identify their weakness or need.

This is essentially why your company exists: the service or product you offer is the answer to this need. 

2. Desire. It’s desire that drives the protagonist to action. However, the desire may not be the same as the need. For example, the protagonist may need to deal with a dandruff problem, but the desire is to look appealing with great-looking hair.

Does what you offer go beyond satisfying a need? If so, that’s part of your story. 

3. Opposition. Someone or something must stand in the protagonist’s way. An opponent, like a business competitor, may want the same thing. You must highlight what makes your product better than the competition to overcome opposition.

This is your chance to highlight your USP: the thing you can offer that is crucial to the protagonist’s success. 

4. Plan of action. The protagonist in the story must have a plan to overcome the opposition and fulfill their desire. Your product or service should represent the plan and offer the easiest solution for the customer to achieve their desire.

The protagonist wouldn’t get far without the help of others: your job is to provide them with a roadmap. 

5. Climactic crisis point. The climax comes when the confrontation with opposing forces reaches a point of maximum frustration. The customer now must choose your brand over the competition.

This is where success hangs in the balance, and the protagonist must make the right choice. 

6. Self-revelation. Following the climax, there also is a point of self-revelation, when the protagonist realizes what they wanted was not what they needed. This is the point of transformation when the customer acknowledges that the product satisfies their wants and addresses their underlying need.

This step should happen naturally if your product or service lives up to the legend you’ve created around it. 

7. New equilibrium. The conclusion of the brand story signals a fundamental change. The customer’s worldview has changed, and they must act accordingly. In a commercial, this is often depicted as a sense of happiness and well-being for choosing the right brand of detergent or toothpaste. Promoting that newfound sense of satisfaction should be the goal when making any marketing or business decision.

The protagonist has completed their journey, and—having found success—they encourage others to follow their path, none of which would have happened without story. Gumas writes:

Storytelling is as old as humankind, and telling a story correctly can build empathy with your audience. When you tell a story, you take the listener or viewer on a journey, and when the elements are woven together, that journey can result in a transformation and, ideally, action.

Once you’ve carved out your brand’s story, you’ll need to tell it, and make sure it’s heard by the right people. This is something Novagram can help you with: ensuring that your website, branding, and design communicate the same narrative. 

Let us help you tell your story. Get in touch today.

[1] This widely-cited statistic is explored in more depth here.

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