According to Cindy Diamond, Group Sales Director at Mediamark (Kagiso Media), good storytelling is at the core of some of the most successful marketing and advertising campaigns of the past few decades. The secret lies in creating a meaningful link between your brand and the consumer’s reality, dreams and aspirations.

Our ability to tell stories and make emotional connections with others is one of the things that defines us as human. From the first cave paintings and oral folk tales to today’s Hollywood blockbusters, stories have remained central to building intimacy and trust.

We live in a world where it’s becoming increasingly hard for brands to decisively differentiate themselves based on features, pricing or customer service. Brand storytelling has the potential to create a diversion in a sea of sameness.

The rise of multichannel has empowered consumers to engage with more devices, channels and touchpoints – often at the same time. The challenge is to tell a coherent story in a fragmented media landscape. What’s more, customers no longer see themselves as passive consumers of content. Through social media, the opportunity exists to interact with, disrupt and even reshape a brand’s narrative.

Four tips for brand storytelling in a multichannel world:

1. Play to the strengths of each channel

When a brand wants to lead the launch of a campaign with a strong storytelling component, it is critical to match the right media type and the corresponding components of the story. We instinctively understand that comic books, novels, movies, and plays all tell stories, but tell them in different ways according to the tools and techniques they offer the creator.

When it comes to marketing, you can tell brand stories on any channel, but not in the same way. For example, it is difficult to share a ‘moment of self-discovery’ on a static billboard. Rather match this part of the tale with radio or other audio media to spark listeners’ interest.

The job of ‘matchmaking’ requires a deep understanding of the range of channels selected, their consumer profiles and nuances in consumer behaviour as well as how each can be woven into the larger brand story.

2. Be authentic

A brand story should attempt to build on real-life experience or at least make use of the tools of fiction to make its point. What you’re looking to achieve is that the brand story tells a deeper truth about your product or brand, its values and the role it plays in the consumer’s life. A good story resonates because it has an emotional truth to it – and that emotional truth should be rooted in the purpose that drives your brand.

3. Invite customers to be part of the story

No longer do customers want to sit on the sidelines as you tell your brand stories – they want to interact; they want to share their opinions and they want to co-create.

Brand in-hand experiences are great ways to bring people into the story. And once they are part of the story themselves, they’ll be even more compelled to share it with others.

4. Use data, AI as well as you own ‘gut’ to drive personalisation

The combination of the three allows us to gain real-time insights about end-user behaviour, interests and demographics. You can also use these insights to target the right messages to the right people at the right time and on the right channel. Measurement tools need to be determined upfront in order to determine the impact of the message imparted, at the time it was imparted and on the medium chosen.

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