The 3 Elements of Effective Brand Stories

Cartoon by Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist.

Stories have a way of sticking with us.  They’re enjoyable, relatable, and understandable – and these qualities ultimately make them memorable.  The context of the story provides linkages and framework that connects information, enabling us to recall a full set of information that we’d be probably be unable to memorize by rote.

For these reasons, storytelling can be an immensely effective communications tool for brands.  To be effective, though, stories need to be enjoyable, relatable and understandable.   In fact, these three components are the keys to developing an effective brand story.

Enjoyable:  If the message doesn’t provide some sort of enjoyment to the person reading (or viewing or listening to) it, it won’t be effective.  However, enjoyment can take many forms.  Stories that touch, teach, empower and inform can all be enjoyable.  A good test for enjoyment is a positive answer to the questions “Am I glad I read that?”  And “Would I recommend that [content] to others?”    To deliver on enjoyment, a story has to give something of value to the reader in exchange for the reader’s attention.

Relatable:  Even the most out-of-the-world stories are relatable.  Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker were underdogs.   British fantasy writer Terry Pratchett grounds his copious work in satire we all recognize.   Enduring characters like Scarlett O’Hara speak to us across centuries because of their human weaknesses.   Within every successful story is an element or character that the reader feels connected with, and that connection is personal.   Those connections are found in effective business storytelling, as well.   As you craft your brand’s story, keep the target audience firmly in mind, and weave their point of view into the story.

Understandable:  If you’ve ever read or viewed a piece of content that has lost the thread and left you scratching your head, wondering that the whole point of that exercise was, the importance of “understandability” isn’t lost on you.   Simply put, brand stories need to have a point, and they need to be clear and focused.   If the central plot wanders down tangents or doesn’t arrive at a logical end, the audience won’t take the action the brand is hoping to inspire or arrive at the conclusion the brand hopes to convey.

Google+ Hangout On-Air Storytelling Series: Using Storytelling to Drive Business Goals

To learn more about developing impactful and effective stories for your organization, join our Google hangout next week on Wednesday, July 24 at 10:00 AM Pacific; 11:00 AM Mountain; 12:00 PM Central; 1:00 PM Eastern.

Join Blair Caplinger (@bcaplinger), founder and principal of Telling Media and Ginny Pulous (@ginnypulos), of Ginny Pulos Communications and PR Newswire for an interactive discussion on business storytelling.  In this Google+ hangout,  we’ll discuss how having the right story can positively impact the conversations you’re having with customers, prospects, and other key influencers. Learn why story is important to business, where business stories typically fail, and how to create and tell stories that drive your most important leadership, brand, sales, change management and PR objectives.

For more information and to register, click here:  Google+ On Air Storytelling Series

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of content marketing, and is the author of the e-book “Unlocking Social Media for PR.”  Follow her on Twitter at @sarahskerik

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