The quality is right, and so is the price. Nevertheless, the decision is made in favor of a different product. Customers no longer just buy the best or cheapest offer – but experiences and emotions. Brands that tell stories become the winners of the market.
Storytelling is not a trend, but an integral part of modern communication strategy. For a brand to come to life, it must become identity-forming and give the company a face. How does that work? Storytelling is about telling a story about the brand and the product. Instead of a simple presentation of the offer, an attempt is made to visually illustrate and convey the company’s values as well as the product’s central idea. In this way, the corporate philosophy is communicated and customers are addressed emotionally.
Simon Sinek justified his Golden Circle approach by saying, “People don’t buy what you do – they buy what you do it for.” For once, you can put yourself in the role of the consumer and review your previous purchasing decisions. You quickly realize that the feeling conveyed by the product was often the decisive purchase argument. When we have to make a decision between two products, we prefer the one to which we feel more emotionally attracted. Products no longer stand for themselves alone. They are part of a brand world and the consumer must be able to identify with this. In a competitive environment littered with rivals, the company’s “what for” is a crucial USP. Applied to practice, this means focusing on one’s values and communicating them in a credible manner. To do this successfully, the density as well as the quality of the story must be right. Only if they are emotional and credible and trigger something in people, they unfold their effect. To do this, the story must be tied to an event that becomes the trigger for the purchase.
Telling stories with a product is one side, transforming it into the digital world is the other. The digital transformation has pushed classic advertising formats into the background and new channels into the foreground. It is impossible to imagine the marketing mix without social networks such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. The digital world offers numerous opportunities for content marketing in the form of storytelling: Stories are only credible if they are told authentically. Social media channels are the ideal platform for this. Direct access to the community and the ability to publish content in a variety of formats creates a closer connection between the target audience and the brand. By interacting with his followers, they can be directly made a part of the story. The whole thing is reinforced by the integration of influencer marketing. Stories live from the fact that they are retold and spread. If you use the reach and the community of the influencers, you thus increase the attention. Companies can also take advantage of user-generated content: For example, if you integrate the TikTok network into your communication strategy, you can ask your community to create videos around a certain motto or hashtag. In this way, users engage specifically with the brand and its message and automatically become loyal to it.
Developing a story across all channels promises great success. The consumer becomes part of the story in the multimedia environment. He becomes an active part of the story and builds a closer relationship with the brand through contact points that keep coming up. What does that look like in practice? Schwarz+Matt created characters for a manufacturer of recyclable sanitary paper. Instead of standardized names, the products have been given real first names, which can be found both on the website and on the packaging. At the same time, the characters tell stories from their previous lives. For example, consumers learn that the “Frieda” paper roll previously stood on a shelf as perfume packaging. In the form of audio plays that are played in the sanitary rooms, the user is thus immersed in another world and the topic of recycling and sustainability is made tangible for him. This experience remains in the memory. The products were emotionally charged. Once the consumer has become part of a story, his interest in the brand grows. In the social networks, he can dive deeper into the world of the characters and experience the stories of the other “products”. This form of storytelling not only draws attention to the brand’s offering, but also expresses the company’s values. Storytelling is therefore also an effective measure for getting the company’s message out there and positioning itself in this way.
So how do stories have to be formulated so that they land with the target group? To create brand awareness and not only attract customers, but retain them for the long term, you can use the Golden Circle as a template. This one focuses on three elementary questions: Why do you do what you do? How do they implement it? And what exactly do you offer? Behind the why or what for are, as explained earlier, the motivations, the values and the visions of the company. The question of how should explain the approach, processes and implementation. Finally, the solution, i.e. the finished product, is presented. If you deliver these answers in the form of an authentic story, you reach your target group emotionally.
Authenticity is a crucial factor in storytelling. Companies that talk a big game but have not anchored their values in the company are quickly exposed. Storytelling can only succeed if the “what for” is lived and permeates all processes in the company. This is where we should start fundamentally: What makes us so special as a brand? What can we really do really well? Only when these questions have been answered can the values be defined.