This article was originally written for and published by Digital Spark Marketing.
Stop interrupting what people are interested in, and be what people are interested in.
We hear lots of talk these days about the power of brand storytelling—and why it’s so critical for businesses and brands as we continue to rush forth in the digital age.
But like so much of this other stuff that is discussed in the marketing and branding realm, storytelling has always been important. It has been the essence of the greatest and most successful communications since the beginning of man.
It can be daunting for a marketer to plan out a piece of brand storytelling – and yet it looks so easy when it is done right. The 5 companies below range in popularity but the lessons in there apply to all brands; there is so much to be gained from examining exactly why the stories were so effective.
Guinness is no stranger to effective brand storytelling. This video reached three million views within four days of online release. This is another exercise in concise brand storytelling with a big heart – the concept sees a group of guys playing wheelchair basketball. A simple plot; a game of wheelchair basketball followed by a pint of Guinness. The twist is that only one of the men in the group is an actual wheelchair user – the rest, it seems, are his friends who are playing wheelchair basketball so that they can all play together.
So what on Earth does this story have to do with Guinness? It is when the voiceover kicks in that the storytelling really ramps up though: “Dedication, loyalty, friendship – the choices we make reveal the true nature of our character,” says a gravelly voiced chap.
The choice the men in the ad make to play wheelchair basketball is testament to their character, and so is the choice they make when they are at the beer taps. It almost tells viewers to be the best person they can be, and drink the best quality drink they can get their hands on. You simply cannot argue with that as a memorable and evocative piece of brand storytelling – and the image of the group walking (and wheeling) away from the court will stick with you .
Have you noticed that the world of marketing is changing? And rapidly. Traditional media vehicles are losing effectiveness as people communicate in new and different ways. Mass audiences are fragmenting into small segments.
Developing a point of difference is harder than ever. This Guinness marketing story demonstrates that Guinness marketing has certainly noticed.
And Guinness marketing has adapted and come up with some cool new marketing stories. This new ad from Guinness proves that beer commercials can be so much more than guys and bars.
“Empty Chair” tells the story of a bartender who leaves a pint of Guinness at an empty table every night amongst birthday celebrations and sports team’s victories. No one sits at the table, and the woman shoots a dirty look to anyone she catches eyeing one of the empty chairs.
Without fail, the frosted glass is there each and every night. It’s a powerful image that serves as a sign of hope for the bartender. But we aren’t exactly sure who the beer is for until the very end. Everything comes together when a soldier finally returns home to claim his Guinness.
The spot finishes with the tagline “The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.”
Simple yet powerful way to add meaning to the story.
If you haven’t seen this Google story, you can watch it here …a short 3+ minutes.
The story is this: a man in Delhi tells his granddaughter about his childhood friend, Yusuf. He hasn’t seen Yusuf since the Partition of India in 1947, when India and Pakistan became separate countries and the two friends were forced to separate. The man’s granddaughter arranges for the two to meet again.
This story is about as emotional as it gets. Stories like this provide a chance to experience a variety of emotions without the risk of those emotions themselves. Emotions like wonder, fear, courage, or love can be tested out in the minds of those as they listen to a story.
If you really listen to your customers, like Google has, you can leverage their stories to drive your creativity. By analyzing their stories of how your products and services fit into their lives, you can gain valuable insight into their needs and desires, which can be hugely beneficial to other aspects of your business. Like product design and development and ongoing marketing strategy. The reunion has done that well don’t you think?
The story is simple and direct. It’s beautiful, and honest, and true. The photography is spectacular. The music adds to the very good acting.
We recently viewed a Dawn Liquid Detergent story told in one of their advertisements that caught our eye for several reasons. An effective TV ad that combined traditional advertising with advocacy advertising and creative storytelling. Something you don’t see very often.
Have you seen this Dawn story in their TV commercial? If not, you should invest 1 minute now and check it out. It will prove beneficial in reviewing their great story.
Interesting information, well presented, showing emotion, always holds attention, yes? Keep in mind that people don’t watch ads … they watch what interests them. Your stories must be interesting to your target communities.
This story message certainly grabs and holds attention based on emotion, superb visuals, and great issue advocacy.
New Bell of South Africa
Have you seen the remarkable branding story from this South African business? It was created to market and build the brand. It is a very simple story. It advocates learning to read no matter your age or status in society.
To us it creates pure magic with the story, the visuals, the music and the emotion. If you haven’t seen it, watch it now, it is only 2 minutes and it will inspire you. It is certainly easily in our top 5 of all time.
What makes this story so remarkable? Of course the whole thing was staged. Who cares? It certainly accomplished its objective to build on the brand. Over 1 million views so far for a business from South Africa that most of us have ever heard of. Of course, you can’t design a story for going viral. But you can target for being remarkable and engaging.
There is no better story example I ever seen than The Lego Movie. As I sat in the theater to a packed house along with 3 of my grandchildren, I marveled at what I was witnessing. Kids laughed. Everyone was thoroughly entertained.
All because a brand had managed to create a masterful story, using their product as the star, and at the same time created what is the most effective 90 minute commercial for a “toy” we’ve ever seen.
But the reaction of my kids is no surprise really. If one analyzes the film, it’s quite apparent what makes it so very effective:
It’s actually a good movie—incredibly well written— for kids and adults.
The product is the entire movie. Every scene is masterfully created with Legos.
There are deep messages happening within the movie, all of which are uplifting and easy to get behind:
- There is a “builder” within each one of us if we only believe
- We’re only as limited as our imagination allows us to be
- You’re never too old to create magic
Can you see why these brands have hit such huge home runs with their tales? They are quickly becoming the mecca of “story telling done right” for brands big and small going forward.