I recently read about Secret Deodorant’s new casting call for its “All Strength, No Sweat” campaign, which plans to use inspiring stories from real-life women while unveiling four new products.
Storytelling is all the rage these days. And it’s quickly ingrained itself throughout CPG, as a marketing tool brands must have in their toolkit. But what is it? As Celinne Da Costa writes in Forbes, “Brand storytelling is the cohesive narrative that weaves together the facts and emotions that your brand evokes.” What’s more, she adds, “Brand storytelling is no longer a nice to have. It is a need to have, and what will ultimately maximize your business’s visibility, profit, and impact. Treat it as a compass for your marketing strategy, and the result will be a brand that is as profitable as it is captivating.
Brands are using this powerful marketing tool for the three Cs (as I call them)—catching, connecting, and convincing consumers that their products are exactly what they need. Grey Goose, for example, understands the power of content as a way to catch, connect, and convince people that Grey Goose is the brand of vodka for them. They launched a digital series of one-on-one conversations with Hollywood celebrities, and before that, they launched the series Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel with the hope that it will “spark culturally relevant conversations that galvanize audiences through subjects that are universally relatable.”
The Canadian arm of Huggies diapers is another brand that harnessed storytelling to increase their brand visibility, and they did so by tapping into their name, with a mission to “leave no baby unhugged.” The company used research from hundreds of studies that showed the benefits of hugs—they help stabilize babies vital signs, improve brain development, and more—and centered their storytelling campaign around educating moms on the importance of skin-to-skin contact, as well as building up a cadre of volunteer huggers in Canadian hospitals.
Rounding out examples of brands that are doing storytelling right, Maltesers, a popular brand of chocolate in the UK, centered a campaign around the fact that 80 percent of people with disabilities feel underrepresented by the media. To bring it into the mainstream, the company launched a series of commercials that told the stores of disabled individuals, as inspired by real life. Not only did these commercials increase sales for Maltesers (an uplift of 8.1 percent), 57 percent of consumers said Maltesers is “changing the way people perceive disability.”
These are just a few of the brands that have seen success from the use of storytelling, and countless other CPG brands are heading fast and furious down the storytelling path.
But if you’re still not convinced your brand needs to embrace storytelling as part of your marketing plan, here are three reasons why you should be.
1. It forces you to focus. Storytelling helps you engage better with consumers, and can create a deeper connection, but not if you can’t get to the point quickly. You only have a few seconds to grab a consumer’s attention and hold it long enough to relay your brand’s attributes. You’re not sitting around a campfire sharing long, rambling stories of yore, after all. If you have 30 seconds to tell a story, you have to really hone in on those brand attributes that are imperative to share and tighten that connection with the consumer.
2. It sets you apart. Does your brand have an interesting origin story? Are there things about your brand that none of your competition can match? Of course you do, and of course there are! But unless you can craft the delivery of those attributes in an interesting way, your customers may never know. And that’s where storytelling comes in. Instead of force-feeding these interesting tidbits about your brand to your consumer, going for the hard-sell, if you will, when you share them via storytelling, you differentiate yourself from the competition, bringing consumers in as you share a piece of yourself, and inviting them to do the same. You’re not telling consumers what they need, you’re helping them expand their world.
3. It puts your consumer first. In the age of personalization, where consumers want any and all information tailored to meet their needs, storytelling allows brands the opportunity to do just that. If one of the essential points of storytelling is to connect with consumers, a brand can’t share just any old story, or a story consumers have heard so many times they could practically tell it themselves. Brands need to think about what their consumers want to know, and what they need to hear, and curate their story to meet those needs.
When a brand wants to catch, connect, and convince consumers, storytelling is the marketing tool of choice today. If you’re not using it for your brand, chances are you’re missing out on so many opportunities to show your consumers that they matter, and that you’re listening.