“Tell me the facts, and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth, and I’ll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.” – A Native American Proverb
How many movies do you know word for word and how many of them have caused you to consciously act or change a life view as a result? If this resonates with you, then you already know the importance of great storytelling: touching people to their core and evoking an emotion, which makes them recall the story and be genuinely affected by it.
We are living in an age of digital disruption, where we now spend more time on our devices, than we ever have before. In the digital age, the customer is not only right, but is also empowered, leveraging a hyper-connected online community that shares thoughts, feelings, opinions, ideas, thereby eventually influencing the buying decisions of others.
Approximately 92% of customers trust their peers over traditional advertising. With this in mind, today’s e-commerce and retail businesses must find increasingly engaging ways of communicating their messages with their target audience – and customer-driven brand storytelling is an incredibly powerful outlet.
Brand storytelling is a form of brand communications that is executed through digital marketing that drives genuine emotional engagement, resulting in better business performance and increased brand loyalty. And if you want your retail business to thrive in tomorrow’s world, sharing your story with your audience in lots of creative, inspirational ways is not optional but necessary.
Social distancing measures enhance the need for human connection. Screens and digital applications help us keep in touch with our families and business relations. New social media trends form a source of entertainment. Creativity and generosity are the foundation of many initiatives that bring people closer together, in a safe way.
COVID-19 requires brands to rethink their storytelling drastically. And while many companies see this crisis as an economical low point, there are also opportunities to grasp in these unusual times.
Yaw Dwomoh, CEO of Idea Hive, Specialist Brand storytelling agency based in Johannesburg, said: “Branding and brands simply do not exist anymore without ensuring digital is central to how they are communicated, advertised, consumed and shared. These key factors see brands needing to ensure there is a strategy that considers the right digital mix in support of the brand position through carefully purposed storytelling. This way businesses can strengthen their online position in the marketplace and thrive in the digital world.
“Brand storytelling sets the foundation of every company’s marketing strategy by creating connections with consumers, so they want to incorporate the brand into their every day. … For a brand to best tell its story, marketers must consider what makes the most successful brand narrative and how it will tie in with their digital platforms.”
“People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.” – Terry Pratchett, novelist
It is time to combine the digital and story
As the new age dawns, the everyday adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology will rise significantly. Harnessing the power of immersive storytelling, Swedish flat pack mogul IKEA leveraged the technology of Apple’s iOS 11 ARKit to develop and launch IKEA Place.
This immersive and entirely innovative application gave users the power to virtually place furniture in the various rooms of their house and get an understanding of how it will fit in with their existing decoration scheme.
The brand, which boasted €35 billion in sales in 2016, explained that the app marked ‘a significant milestone in IKEA’s digital transformation journey’, boosting brand awareness and helping the furniture giant to remain relevant in the ever-evolving world of online retail.
Not only does IKEA empower the customer by putting them in the driver’s seat, but it also helps them to conclude the story by choosing the furniture that features in their homes. A fully immersive experience that yields tangible results.
As technology becomes more sophisticated, we expect to see some mind-blowing immersive brand storytelling initiatives from retailers in the not-so-distant future.
We know the brain is wired to processes visual imagery. When we look at how the brain retains information, words are processed by our short-term memory, whereas visuals go directly into our long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.
When we communicate, our job is to move from the complex to the simple. Because the brain is more naturally wired to engage with the human, with the relatable, with a story than with just data, information, and complexity alone.
Great stories create interest and capture attention. Great stories instruct and communicate meaning. Great stories involve us. And importantly, a great story inspires. It connects not just with the eyes of the head but with the eyes of the heart.
Brands need to be sure that they are not getting lost in the sea of sameness. To avoid getting lost and instead of going into hiding, brands must ensure that they communicate in the ‘New Normal’ world so that it is not just meaningful but effective too.
We don’t have the luxury of a ‘shot in the dark’. Brands now more than ever need to partner with specialised Brand Storytellers who have made it their business to understand this new digital world we are living in and its relation to purposeful brand storytelling.
This is an opinion piece by Yaw Dwomoh, CEO of Idea Hive.
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