Human beings have been telling stories since before the written word was invented. They used the oral tradition of storytelling. Then came pictures and symbols, before moving on to written stories and moving pictures on the big and small screen. Why do we tell stories in so many ways? Because we relate to stories. They allow us to connect with each other and share our culture and experiences. And when told well, stories become an emotional experience.
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Fortunately, stories aren’t just for books and movies. People tell stories all the time. And now brands are jumping on the storytelling wagon, for good reason. You see, consumers want a personal and emotional connection with the brands they buy. This is something you can take advantage of, particularly when you want consumers to know about your sustainability initiatives.
The key to storytelling as a brand is simple – you need to turn as many aspects of your business as possible into a story. With that in mind, you need to consider whose story you are telling and where/how you are telling that story.
You can tell many different stories in relation to your brand. Here are a few:
Customer stories – Customers have stories to tell. Stories about their pain points and how your product helped them. Or better, stories of customers telling about how your company meets their ethical standards in how you operate.
Supplier stories – Who are the suppliers of your raw materials? Who are the manufacturers or the communities that benefit from your brand? It might be a remote village or a farm in a developing country. It might be the whales that live in the oceans. Tell their story.
Product stories – By this we mean the product’s green journey. How was the idea conceived? How was it created? Who was involved in that creation? How was the product shipped? Give the product an identity and infuse emotion into this product’s green journey.
Philanthropic stories – Slightly different than supplier stories, this type of story digs deeper into the social and environmental issues you take on with your brand.
This could be the story of how you are offsetting your carbon footprint, maybe telling about your employees planting trees. Or maybe your employees pitched in with hurricane relief efforts. These are great stories for a great green storytelling. Immerse people in them and let them form an emotional attachment with your brand.
Data-Driven Stories – Take data that makes an emotional impact and spin it into a story. Perhaps you weave the latest pollution data into a story involving one of your products or your shipping practices. Perhaps you take your own data dig a story out of it, a story of the people you have helped or a story of the difference you have made in a community.
Effective Storytelling: how to tell your stories
Once you choose whose story you are telling and what that story will be, it’s time to choose a medium through which to tell it. These days, there are so many ways to tell your story.
Social media is the perfect platform for telling stories because that’s where people spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes a day. You can tweet your story in just a few words on Twitter. You can go bigger and use Instagram and Facebook stories to invite followers into the rich details of the story.
Another thing people love is video. They soak it up at a rate of nearly 5 billion YouTube videos per day! Even if you have a written blog, those with video included score three times more inbound links as blog posts without video.
With video, there is a face with the story, which makes it even more compelling. It can be your face, an employee’s face, a customer or supplier’s face. It can be a child on a farm where your raw materials come from. Regardless, the face with the story will have a huge impact.
Podcasts are another unique way to tell a story. You can tell stories via podcast through interviews, a single person speaking, or a group conversation. Best of all, podcasts can be listened to on the commute to and from work, during a workout, or any other time. There are more than 750,000 podcasts out there, and they have been proven to be a valid format for reaching the consumer.
Your company blog is a fabulous platform for reaching the consumer. You can tell stories in so many ways on your blog. Tell stories of personal experience, either yours, an employee’s, or a customer’s. Interview someone. Include a video story.
Just remember that words are powerful and companies with a blog have 55% more visitors to their website than companies that do not.
Think about the popularity of Pokémon Go. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are taking the world by storm. Pepsi’s Pepsi Max bus stop ad in London is the perfect example of what a brand can do with this technology. They used AR tech to entertain people while waiting for the bus. What did the public see? Alien invasion, a robot, and an attacking lion to name a few.
You can immerse people in any story you want this way. Take them on an adventure to the farm your raw materials come from. Take them inside your factory. People will never forget the experience.
You really can infuse storytelling into everything your brand does. Even what might be seen as boring corporate reports and whitepapers can be dressed up using story. This is a way you can engage people with your sustainability efforts and reach them on an emotional level. It will make an impact that could last a lifetime! If you are interested in learning about other ways to share your eco-sustainable initiatives in order to strengthen your brand, check out our eBook “5 environmentally friendly branding strategies: the case of Carbon Offset“.