Since the time of cavemen, we’ve told stories. In fact, one of the great advertising campaigns of the recent past has been Geico’s Caveman campaign. They were such great storytellers for Geico, they briefly (and mercifully so) had their own TV series.
|Bruce D. Murdy, president of Rawle Murdy Associates Inc.|
As we toiled through the recession during the past few years, storytelling was put aside, as marketers focused more on features, prices and competitive comparisons than telling a brand story. But we’ve recognized that to add value, to set your brand apart, you must have a compelling story to tell.
Every brand has a story. There are various types of stories to tell — you just have to frame the story that best fits your business. Think about it; one of the earliest story forms is overcoming adversity. Did your brand start from overcoming some adversity? Or another, a story about a “quest.” Did your company start by searching for a better way? While there are all sorts of story types, there’s one that fits your brand well.
Why do stories work so well? Some suggest there are specific “brain theories” that help us understand better by helping ground the product or activity with real world experiences. There’s another psychological theory that’s called the “neural coupling” effect, where in the best cases, the storyteller’s and the story-listener’s neuron-wave patterns were surprisingly similar when a story was being told. No matter the reason, we certainly know that a good story entertains, engages and informs. And isn’t that what the best advertising does?
While some readers may be thinking that “storytelling” is fine for consumer businesses, it doesn’t work for business-to-business communications. And while it may be true that far-flung stories don’t work as well, unless you want to reduce your brand to commodity status there still needs to be a smart and focused story about it.
I’ve also found it interesting to note that storytelling is not medium-dependent. For years, many (myself included) believed television was the single greatest way to tell a story. Sight, sound, motion all weaving an emotional bond between advertiser and prospect. However, we’ve seen great ways to engage your audience online with great storytelling opportunities. And publishers of online magazines, struggling for revenue sources, are now struggling with “native” advertising, which fully embeds ads in the editorial content of online magazines — the ultimate storytelling opportunity. However the medium might evolve, I hope you agree that the fundamental need for storytelling is current for today’s consumers to understand and relate as it was — well — for cavemen.
So, what’s your story?
Bruce D. Murdy is president of Rawle Murdy Associates Inc., a Charleston-based marketing, advertising and public relations firm. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.