Over a millennium ago, storytelling was the primary means of making ideas memorable and actionable. Owing to its primal roots, storytelling is a powerful, timeless means for conveying important information. Drama, engagement and emotions help people remember and trust brands, according to research.
“Human memory is story-based,” is the first principle of storytelling behavior. “If you can harness imagination and the principles of a well-told story, then you get people rising to their feet amid thunderous applause instead of yawning and ignoring you.”
By telling your brand story in a compelling way, you help people remember it when the time comes for them to make purchasing decisions. That’s why storytelling is the cornerstone of many successful B2C marketing campaigns. But B2B can also benefit by learning from successful B2C storytellers.
If you’re looking for ways to boost the power of your B2B brand through storytelling, consider these six principles deployed by B2C brands to build better and more compelling brand stories:
When you use storytelling in your marketing, you can help your audience identify with your characters. This approach has been instrumental in Nike’s success since the launch of its first visual storytelling effort in 1988 with its “Just Do It” spot. In particular, when consumers engage with a story about overcoming obstacles, it’s because their mirror neurons have been triggered.
Mirror neurons help us feel what others feel. As a result, they make stories relatable and motivate action. Nike perfected this axiom in its “Become Legendary” campaign, where famous athletes tell motivational stories. Nike never mentions its brand name in the commercials. Instead, the company is telling stories of real people, like Michael Jordan, to appeal to our feelings and values.
Make a stronger human connection in your brand storytelling through actions like these:
If you’re going to design hotels that appeal to globetrotting millennials, you’re going to have to step outside of the traditional hotel box. That’s Moxy in a nutshell. Owner hotel stalwart, Marriott International, describes the destination: “The Moxy experience kicks off with a bright, airy and buzzy lobby, featuring modern furniture that invites guests to relax, feast their eyes on the state-of-the-art video wall, or connect and catch up with friends in the ‘Plug and Meet’ gathering area … guests are greeted with a complimentary ‘Got Moxy’ cocktail upon arrival.”
To tell its brand story, the international hotel chain aimed to be relatable to millennials using the hashtag: #AtTheMoxy. The marketers crafted an entertaining video series, “Do Disturb,” which featured the host dishing up her best cheeky antics with social media influencers who are well-known celebrities to this generation. Every episode tells the Moxy story.
Make your brand story more relatable through actions like these:
Most insurance commercials are told from the perspective of the quirky spokesperson, educating viewers with simple stories about the quality of the insurance companies. Allstate flipped that approach on its head with the introduction of Mayhem in 2010, creating a narrative around a bad guy.
Allstate’s “Mayhem” showed the bad things that happen to good people, a story that most viewers could relate to — and thus, desire protection from. What helped make Mayhem last is how the copy enabled the compelling character to weave between the narrator and the instigator.
Leverage narration in your brand storytelling through actions like these:
What’s more universal than the feeling of belonging? Everyone wants to find their tribe, that group of people who think and live as they do. Few marketers speak to this universal need better than SoulCycle in its brand storytelling.
SoulCycle offers a transcendent tribal experience with each workout. In its brand story, it states the promise of real motivation and a sense of belonging while also motivating its target audience: “We are a fitness community raising the roof at our own cardio party. The rhythm pushes us harder than we ever thought possible.”
Leverage universal messages through actions like these:
Positioning itself as the alternative to the high-priced eyewear industry, Warby Parker doesn’t just sell quality glass frames and sunglasses. It invites its customers to become a part of the brand’s movement with a socially conscious brand story. The company donates a portion of its monthly profits to its nonprofit partners to make basic eye care and affordable eyewear available to communities in developing countries. This philosophy helps create lifetime commitments from customers.
As stated in its brand story, “Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses, which means that 15 percent of the world’s population cannot effectively learn or work. To help address this problem, Warby Parker partners with non-profits like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.”
Inspire social consciousness in your brand storytelling through actions like these:
Told effectively, your company’s story has the power to motivate and drive people to take action. Apple leveraged this opportunity when it created a unique holiday, “Share Your Gifts” campaign, using Pixar-like storytelling, designed to liberate more creatives from their own self-doubts and fears.
The campaign inspired and motivated artists, designers and others who create by teaching the lesson that sharing your talent, rather than locking it away, while sometimes terrifying, is vital to personal happiness. Viewers were reminded that the outcome of that risk would most likely be transformational. The story worked because nearly everyone can relate to the regretful feeling of under-utilizing their skills or not following their passions.
Motivate action in your brand storytelling through actions like these:
Unlike many other marketing methods, storytelling holds the power to elevate your marketing program to levels of success. There’s no reason for B2B organizations to let B2C reap all of the benefits. Learn from successful campaigns and see how you can incorporate the right storytelling insights to connect with, inspire and motivate and your target audience.