Some of the best brands use the power of storytelling to engage audiences. Whether they’re launching a new product, educating audiences—be it customers or internal stakeholders—or managing a crisis, storytelling can enhance every piece of brand communication. In fact, we argue that the most engaging brands are those who actively make room for storytelling, especially in an unexpected context and across multiple touch points.
When milk alternative brand Oatly came under fire after welcoming a controversial investor, the brand demonstrated an excellent use of storytelling in crisis management. They reminded people of their humble beginnings, drawing a comparison between the decision to sell their product in mass-market grocery stores to looking beyond green investors for funding. The statement not only invited audiences to understand their origin story, but they also reminded readers of their bigger purpose: to promote plant-based products and ultimately maximise their positive impact on the planet. Finally, they were able to use their genuine and witty tone of voice to underline what people should expect from Oatly.
What are brand stories?
You usually know it when you see it—be it Red Bull’s adrenaline-packed branded content fueling its bold, push-your-limits brand idea or Zappos’ numerous stories of its employees’ over-the-top commitment to customer service. These recurring narratives move beyond the brand’s commercial interests, and instead evolve into brand stories by adhering closely to the strategic messages and pushing the brand’s wider ambitions.
Through distinct and engaging story content, brands can build awareness, foster customer relationships, articulate their uniqueness and thereby increase loyalty. In addition to content, consistency is key—the more consistently a brand incorporates brand stories into their communication, the more audiences will start to attribute these narratives exclusively to their brand, adding to what makes them quickly recognisable.
Why brand stories are crucial?
There’s a reason why we gravitate toward stories. As human beings, we are wired to receive and process information this way, meaning audiences are more likely to remember and internalise content told in narrative form. And in today’s digital-driven society, where we are time-poor and bombarded with content, brand stories cut through the noise and build a connection.
At the most fundamental level, brands exist to connect businesses and people, and a powerful story is one of the most effective tools to do so. Gone are the days of storytelling as a tactical tool for one-off campaigns, solely pushing commercial interests. Audiences expect more from brands, asking, how can you entertain me, intrigue me, leave me inspired? Brand stories, done right, can be the answer.