Brand storytelling – not just important, but the only way forward

Engaging in brand storytelling isn’t just an important modern marketing strategy, it’s vital, writes Uber Eats’ Ryan Reynolds. As audiences evolve and expand across global landscapes, the benefits of capturing their attention through stories and emotion shouldn’t be underestimated.

Ryan Renyolds 150 BWStories that work to provoke emotions are a universal language that can be used across platforms, hitting consumers from all walks of life, ages and backgrounds. With audiences inundated with media through every possible platform, using storytelling as a way to stand out is the best way to cut through the noise and target the heart of your demographic.

The core of social media remains as a way to engage in social connection. People don’t log into their Instagram or Facebook accounts to see billboard-like advertising. They use these apps as a way to remain in-touch and social in a digital era. In order to engage large audiences in such a social way, brands need to create stories, adapting to this social style of marketing. 

An engaging and emotional connection is often what draws in and captivates an audience. People are inherently more interested in reading or following a story, as opposed to simply reading statistics and facts. This is the case particularly in today’s age, where consumers are actively avoiding advertising as much as they can. When was the last time banner advertising caught your attention?

We’re in an age where programs such as Adblock are constantly in use to hide or minimise the number of traditional advertising audiences are exposed to. Audiences may be more self-aware when it comes to ignoring traditional advertising, but they’re as engaged as ever with social media, making emotive storytelling the ideal platform to target the modern consumer. Transactional advertising is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and to survive, brands need to adapt.

If you think back on your own experience with advertising, you’ll agree that campaigns using stories or case studies stick out clearer in your mind. An example of memorable advertising is Toms and its use of a unique company story which entices people to join a cause. The story of Toms could ultimately see it chosen over a competitor, because of this emotive and engaging content that inspires change – showing consumers the benefits of their purchases and urging them to become involved. 

If you’re unaware of the story behind this revolutionary footwear brand, Toms introduced a groundbreaking ‘one for one’ concept model – with every purchase of Toms shoes, the company donates a pair to a child in need around the world. This model and level of engagement gives its consumers the power of purchasing with purpose. This feeds into the social element, with Toms’ customers having a simple purchase of shoes reminding them that they’re a part of something much bigger. Toms marketing goes further than just selling shoes – its selling a movement, and people love to be involved.

Brand storytelling is a way to build a genuine and loyal connection with consumers. In my current role as global social and content marketing lead for Uber Eats, I’ve seen that marketing nowadays goes beyond the classic kind, where a company used to share a story about a product with the hopes to engage interest by simply presenting something to buy. Instead, it has now shifted to sharing stories of the people behind the product.

An example of this strategy is a campaign Uber Eats did where we shared stories about the restaurants on our platform, or the drivers who delivered the food. The focus of this campaign was to share emotive stories that don’t get the limelight that they deserve. Once consumers hear of these stories and case studies, they begin to understand the impact that has been made by supporting a brand, giving them a sense of importance by being involved, while understanding the larger picture of their involvement at the same time. 

In this day and age, people are constantly bombarded with content. If you want to cut through the noise, it is becoming increasingly important for brands to forget the obvious elements and go deeper. During my time in Australia, I saw a great example of a big brand creating an accessible and engaging story, which was Nike.

The little initiatives it implements on the ground gives consumers a chance to be a part of Nike’s story – this is particularly evident in its Nike Run Club. Using ambassadors in every major – and even smaller – cities around the country creates a club mentality, allowing its audience to forget about the big corporate America Nike. The Nike they know and love becomes something much smaller, and something that they are involved with at a ground level. This kind of proactive and targeted brand storytelling emphasises a personal connection between consumer and brand. In this example, we see that the more invested these runners feel in Nike, the more inherently loyal they become. 

It has been proven that messages delivered as stories are 22 times more memorable than any other type of marketing. Having a message that will stay on your consumer’s mind is naturally going to improve the efficiency of communication channels to your audience. One major way brands fail when implementing a storytelling strategy is not keeping it authentic. Audiences are smart enough to see through content created purely for content’s sake – so keeping authenticity in everything you do as the number one rule when creating a close relationship with your consumers. 

Ryan Reynolds is global social and content marketing lead for Uber Eats

Further Reading;

Image credit:Jad Limcaco