Corporate Eye

The Importance of Brand Storytelling in 2013 and Beyond

business man writingOver the past several years, brand marketers have navigated through an onslaught of changes that have re-shaped many of their tactics. We’ve lived through “the year of social media,” “the year of content,” “the year of curation,” and more. These changes are here to stay, and at the forefront of everything brand marketers do today is storytelling.

Building a deeper emotional connection between a brand and it’s audience of consumers through storytelling is no longer a consideration. It’s a strategic imperative. To that end, I’d argue that companies should be looking for both content engineers (the strategic data-driven leaders) and content creative directors (the strategic creative leaders) to become integral senior management positions within the larger marketing team. Together, the scientist and the creator can be a powerful team.

Unfortunately, few companies have come to recognize the need for these two leadership roles, and they’re struggling to develop brand marketing success beyond the status quo. It’s a new way of thinking about marketing, which in the past, has been ruled by the demands of the sales team. I’d argue that the marketing team should be the driving force with this strong leadership team of creative thinkers and data junkies. Only time will tell if large companies figure it out and make the necessary changes.

In the meantime, how can brand marketers effectively increase awareness, recognition, sales, loyalty, and advocacy through storytelling? It starts with the brand name and carries through every customer touch point. These stories should appeal to consumers’ senses through visual, auditory, and even cerebral content that is engaging, meaningful, and emotional. Brand stories shouldn’t make people feel like they’re being sold to. Instead, they should lead consumers through a journey over time.

Brand stories should make the brand seem more human, accessible, and real. They should support what the brand stands for and reaffirm what people already believe in a unique way. In other words, don’t push the company’s wants and need at consumers. Instead, pull consumers to your brand by allowing them to see and feel their own beliefs and feelings in your brand story.

In 2013, focus on creating brand stories that tap into emotions, make people think, support their beliefs, and move them to action. Ensure your brand story is consistent across all consumer experiences with your brand, and remember, consumers are unlikely to believe your brand story if you and your employees don’t believe it. In other words, internal branding is a critical first step to sharing your brand story with the world.

Image: Kristja

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
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