One of the main objectives of marketing campaigns is to inspire and engage consumers by translating insight into a big idea. But sometimes, these campaigns can miss the mark, wasting their brand's time, money, and energy! To prevent costly and potentially losing connection with consumers, marketers have the job to seamlessly weave the Story in a way that keeps consumers engaged and helps to build an emotional relationship with their audience at scale.
To avoid dull, monotone ads, marketers should try not to be stating the main idea in the campaign blatantly. Yes, of course, we want the Big Idea to be clearly understood! But, we don't want to tell the consumer what it is, and we want to intrigue them and get them thinking. To create a campaign that keeps the consumer interested in your brand, find a way to incorporate your Big Idea into a brand narrative.
The Big Idea is the key takeaway that the brand wants consumers to get out of any brand campaign. The overarching theme links the consumer to a critical human truth, insight, or brand purpose. It should be a simple yet powerful thought that the marketer uses to drive emotional and visceral reactions through messaging. Not only should the Big Idea be central to the campaign, but it should also be recognizable and congruent across all touchpoints.
Creating a brand narrative around your Big Idea is easy! All you have to do is follow the guidelines to develop a purposeful story while keeping your brand's key messages and truths at the center. To begin, remember to keep it simple, keep it simple, keep it simple! Not only are people so busy during the day that they don't have time to spend more than a few minutes or even seconds trying to understand your brand narrative, but each generation's attention span is getting shorter and shorter. Marketers need to keep the Story punchy and straightforward! It should grab attention right away and keep it for the duration of the ad to maximize active engagement and ensure consumers receive the entire message.
Any good story needs an introduction, climax, and resolution, or more simply put, a beginning, middle, and end. The consumer should follow a clear story arch and watch as your brand can help its hero establish and solve a problem using your products. The Story doesn't need to be an elaborate tale, and an entire story can be told in seconds or even through still images such as print or social media posts.
Say you are working on an ad campaign for a running shoe. Can you think of a few examples of how a billboard or a print ad can tell a complete story? If not, don't worry, it seems more complicated than it is! Here is an example of an easy way to tell a story using still images. Say our hero lives in an impoverished neighborhood. There is an obstacle they need to overcome. It's simple, it's relatable, and it's easy for consumers to sympathize with it. Now let's say our hero's escape from their situation is running. What is the thing that takes them through the streets of their city and helps them quite literally run away into better things? Your brand's running shoe! Show the hero wearing the shoe and running from their overgrown, trash-littered sidewalks straight through the finish line of an Olympic track and field event.
What's the Big Idea? Your brand's shoes will keep consumers performing their best to achieve their goals. Consumers will realize the Big Idea without the brand ever stating it directly. It's a feeling! A sensation! When you tell a story, the consumer will feel like living it right with your heroes. They will feel the daunting pull of the runner's situation clawing to hold them back, they will feel the anticipation of waiting to see if the runner will make their escape, and then they will finally feel the joy and freedom when the runner achieves his goals. That feeling of triumph is what they will associate with your brand. It's a sensation that the consumer can only achieve through the connective power of purposeful storytelling. It will make them fall in love with your product!
So, once you've established your initial Brand Story, It's essential to continue the Story through several touchpoints to create a complete, immersive experience for the consumer. People are more attracted to things simply by recognition. The more they see your Brand Story, the more they become familiar with your campaign, the more they will believe it and love it. That doesn't mean showing the same ad repeatedly across different platforms but modifying or continuing the narrative.
Create short tik to snippets of the runner running through the streets in the shoe. Create Instagram posts of the runner celebrating with their family after crossing the Olympic finish line. Create experiential events in inner-city neighborhoods to donate the shoe to underprivileged runners. Do you see how these executions are different but contribute to the overall brand narrative? Keep the messaging consistent and use these touchpoints to relate your more extensive campaign to that one Big Idea. This immersive experience offers more exposure to consumers and makes them feel as if they are entirely in the Brand Story. After they see the Brand Story played out on screen or in print, and then elements from that story start to show up in their reality continuously, they will feel like they are living your brand narrative. It will amplify their relationships with the brand and connection to your products.
Telling a story through your brand executions will allow consumers to feel more connected to your brand. Coupling neurons in our brains create a dynamic experience while listening to a level where the listener's brain activity syncs up with the brain activity of the storyteller and makes sense of trust connection. Brands can harness this sensation to build relationships with consumers! To learn more about this sensation and create a purposeful brand narrative, check out my blog on The Art and Science of Storytelling here.
Always be true to your brand. While it might be easy to get carried away in your Story's details, remember to always keep your Big Idea at the center of the campaign. If you start to drift off into the narrative you have created, remember to use your brand's voice and message to ground you. It's okay to develop brand stories out there, and sometimes the best ones are! But don't stray from the primary purpose of your campaign.
Brand Stories are catalysts that help you get your message across emotionally and engagingly, not to make up things about your brand that aren't true. Use your Brand Story to create trust with your audience, and you will attract a much broader demographic while creating an unforgettable campaign.