9

min read

Why Video Is The Future For Brand Storytelling

Stories play a very important role in how we all learn. For brands wanting to attract people to their stories, video is the obvious solution to quickly win over hearts & minds.

KNOW HOW

Why Video Is The Future For Brand Storytelling

Stories play a very important role in how we all learn. For brands wanting to attract people to their stories, video is the obvious solution to quickly win over hearts & minds.

9

min read

Published:

August 25, 2020

The path to hearts and minds.

A few years back, we started paying attention to a rising trend gaining traction among marketing communities. The concept is Brand Storytelling – the idea that through stories, brands have the power to forge emotional connections between their products and their community of consumers.

By reflecting issues and values that are important to consumers through stories, brands are able to send a strong message about where they place value. And in an ecosystem where brands can be canceled because they don’t align with the moral values of their consumers who sniff out inauthenticity with the voracity of a bloodhound, video storytelling emerges as one of the most effective ways to clearly & quickly communicate where a brand stands on big issues.

We wrote this post to give you a greater understanding of the basics of brand storytelling, and set you down the path of marketing with authenticity.

Compelling brands have always had a great story to tell.

Early advertisers knew this. Through a fog of tobacco and inflated ego, the ad men and women of the Madison Avenue “Golden Era” crafted print & TV campaigns that directly influenced the buying habits of Americans. Their tactic of choice: unearth the most interesting stories behind a product, and succinctly illuminate the benefit to the consumer. These early ads comprised mainly of eye-catching graphics, a gripping headline, and “607 words of factual copy.” They were simple, elegant, and responsible for the meteoric rise of some brands, and the extinction of others. Effectiveness aside, these ads served up interesting storytelling in a short binge-able format, and laid the foundation for brands as storytellers.

Stories ignite our curiosity and excite our brains. On a very primal human level, stories have been the preferred way for communities to harmonize on values and spread information to each other. When they can speak to an audience on an emotional level, stories are even remembered better than facts alone.

On a very primal human level, stories have been the preferred way for communities to harmonize on values and spread information to each other.

We learn best through stories.

The tradition of storytelling as a form of education has helped shape our level of attention to details. We look for moments of conflict and tension in stories as guide posts. They act as learning points, and teach us valuable lessons we can apply to our lives. Understanding how the heroes of the story navigate conflict teaches us what to do if we find ourselves in a similar situation. So, It’s in our best interest for survival to remember stories and the lessons they hold. It’s this reason that stories are up to 22x more memorable than facts and figures alone.

Stories also help audiences self-identify with a brand.

Take, for instance, the Porsche-backed Instagram “magazine” Type7. All of the mythos and allure behind the Porsche brand is presented in this suavely curated collage. The visual tapestry is that of vintage Porsche 911s, exotic travel hideaways, geometric architecture, modern art, ...and rockets. This dreamy portrait of Porsche ownership is backed up with compelling stories that add depth and context to living the ideal luxury lifestyle. These signals of luxury attract not only fans of the Porsche brand, but anyone who has an interest in the other facets to the Type7 persona.

The more people who see a bit of themselves in a brand, the greater the chance they’ll eventually become customers. (Starting my vintage Porsche 911 savings fund now.)

And stories define value.  

We believe that the true value of a product is defined by its story. Take the Emeco Navy Chair for instance. This largely unremarkable industrial chair with its bent square tubing and brushed bare aluminum finish doesn’t conjure up the cutting edge design that typically comes with its $575 per chair price tag.

Initially built for use on submarines in 1944, the Emeco Navy Chair needed to be light-weight and virtually indestructible. When engineer Wilton C. Dinges threw his prototype chair out an 8th story window to demonstrate the durability of his design, he landed the Navy contract and a spot in design history. The brand continues to tell the story of this lasting craftsmanship by highlighting the 77 steps it takes to create the Navy Chair by hand.

Illustration of video storytelling you can binge-watch. Woman hugging her adorable dog, friends clinking drinks for a cheers, man on bicycle.

Brand Storytelling with Video

Video is a potent tool for brands to tell stories, and should be a central piece to any brand storytelling strategy. It’s also our favorite medium for helping brands tell stories. There is plenty of science that demonstrates the power visuals have on our decision making ability. We are capable of processing visuals and video much quicker than other forms of storytelling. Additionally, telling video brand stories with an episodic content model helps retain your audience’s attention for a prolonged period of time.


The 4 basics elements of Brand Storytelling.

When we think of the basics of brand storytelling, we focus on four main story pillars: values, heroes, conflicts, and triumphs.

1. Values

At the heart of every great brand story is a set of clearly defined values – big ideas that make up the identity and personality of the brand. Brand values are typically used as a guiding light for company culture, however brands that embrace their values find a way to infuse them into every interaction customers have with the brand. In storytelling, brand values lay the foundation for narrative perspective, and influence why a story is told in a particular way.

Take, for example, this storytelling video from Patagonia. In it, we learn about a young mountain biker named Brooklyn Bell who explores topics of inclusion and representation in the sport she loves. Nowhere in the story are we told what Patagonia’s brand values are, but by celebrating a hero like Brooklyn we immediately understand that Patagonia places a high value on inclusivity and access to the outdoors.

2. Heroes

For a story to really resonate and connect with an audience, it needs to have a hero people can see a bit of themselves in. Heroes are who we cheer for and empathize with when they face seemingly impossible conflicts. So, it’s a bit of a head scratcher when we see brands attempting to make their products and services the hero of their marketing stories. Products and services can play a supporting role to overcoming conflicts and areas of tension, but when you’re looking for a hero to your brand story the first logical place to turn is to your customers.


Heroes are who we cheer for and empathize with when they face seemingly impossible conflicts.

To accompany their suite of tools designed to help entrepreneurs build and grow, Mailchimp launched Mailchimp Presents: an entertainment platform filled with inspiring podcasts, documentaries, and multiple original series. This content doesn’t celebrate Mailchimp as the hero of the stories. Instead, the focus is placed on the entrepreneurs and small business owners that embody their ideal customer and the challenges they’ll likely face through their business journeys.

3. Conflicts

Without conflict, there is no story. Stories are chocked full of important life lessons for the audience, and conflict is what sets up those lessons. When conflict and struggle is missing, there stops being a reason for an audience to stay engaged. Great stories respect the importance of conflict, and set their heroes down a path of rising tensions, with each new conflict presented being greater than the previous one. Through this, audiences are given compelling reasons to stay engaged with the story.

For storytelling brands, there are many opportunities to explore conflict. When telling a story about a brand, lean into the struggles and challenges that have had to be overcome along the way. Emphasizing the different setbacks and existential close-calls builds a story pretty much everyone can relate to.

Of course, the most relatable conflicts are going to be those of your customers. The challenges they face, and the ways they overcome those challenges, help to solidify the purpose of your brand and products.

4. Triumphs

Everyone loves a happy ending. While its true that not every story in life and on screen has a happy ending, it’s essential in good storytelling to give your audience some form of resolution and leave them at a more positive place than when they started.

In her TED talk, Nancy Duarte explores why some presentations and arguments resonate more with an audience than others. By examining story structure and classic dramatic structure, she realized that the most persuasive talks bounce between a “what is” statement (or the status quo), and a “what could be” statement. The gaps between those two statements represent the conflicts that must be overcome.

Effective brand storytelling follows a similar model, where a status quo is established, and conflicts are tackled by the hero until there is an eventual triumph. Throughout a story, there may be many different moments where triumph is the reward for conflicts. When crafting a brand story, these triumph moments give you the perfect opportunity to subtly show how your brand’s product or services aided in overcoming the obstacles.

Some things to remember.

For all the ad money spent reaching customers, one of the most effective way for a brand to grow is from word-of-mouth. Family members telling other family members. Friends sharing their favorite new purchase with their friends. People love telling stories as much as they love hearing one.

Brand Storytelling can be thought of as a way to kick-off the cycle of word-of-mouth. So, perhaps the biggest thing we can stress is that you must make your customers the hero of your stories. Give them a staring role in the action, and celebrate people your community can see themselves in.

If you’re not taking charge of your brand narrative through storytelling, your customers will.

If we can leave you with anything, it’s this: If you’re not taking charge of your brand narrative through storytelling, your customers will. Stories give your audience social capital they can share with their friends and family. As a brand, the stories you share end up being the stories your community will share.

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